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Preparing the Next Generation of Agriculture and STEM Scientists

Posted by Mariela Castaneda, USDA Public Affairs Specialist, and Sandya Kesoju, director for Agriculture Education, Research and Development, Columbia Basin College in Initiatives Research and Science
Jul 12, 2023
2022 E. Kika De La Garza Fellow Sandya Kesoju on a tractor

Meet 2022 E. Kika De La Garza Fellow Sandya Kesoju, Ph.D., from Columbia Basin College (CBC) in Pasco, Wash. As the director for Agriculture Education, Research and Development, she oversees the agriculture department’s administrative activities and operations. Among her many duties in this role, she leads efforts to provide experiential learning for students; and collaborates with local industries, universities, federal agencies, K-12 partners, and the community to support programs in science, technology, engineering, agriculture, and mathematics (aka STEAM). She also teaches courses such as applied agriculture research, agriculture internship, and biochemistry lab.

The USDA E. Kika De La Garza Fellowship provided an opportunity to magnify her efforts in a collaborative way through networking with educators and scientists from other Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSIs).

“I represent a field of study seldom seen in collaboration with the STEAM fields,” she said. “Beyond bringing our students a new vision of their future in agriculture and STEM fields, this is a critical step toward setting a deeper dialogue between diverse disciplines.”

In addition to the wealth of information and networking, the fellowship also helped her explore grant funding opportunities and understand USDA career opportunities, enabling her to better prepare her students as the next generation of agricultural and STEM scientists with relevant skillsets.

Sandya continues to pursue her goals at CBC now with a better understanding of the USDA services and resources available to her and her students, who now benefit from a deeper knowledge of career pathways, internships and job opportunities available with USDA agencies.

Thank you, Sandya, for participating as an E. Kika De La Garza fellow!