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In Her Own Words: E. Kika De La Garza Fellow Finds Purpose in Motivating the Next Generation

Posted by MD Sharman, Public Affairs Specialist, USDA Office of Partnerships and Public Engagement and Acting Chancellor of Ana G. Mendez University/Associate VP of Government Affairs and Community Relations Syndia Nazario-Cardona in Equity Initiatives
Apr 16, 2024
Syndia A. Nazario-Cardona

Since 1998, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has recognized highly accomplished staff and faculty at Hispanic-Serving Institutions and Hispanic-Serving School Districts through E. Kika De La Garza Fellowships. Participants travel to Washington, D.C. to meet with leaders at USDA agencies and learn about opportunities available to their respective institutions and students.

Syndia Nazario-Cardona, acting chancellor/associate VP of government affairs and community relations at Ana G. Mendez University in Florida, describes how her experience is helping her to support the next generation and make a difference in the educational realm.

My goal is to empower students with valuable information to help them succeed academically and professionally. Thanks to my experience as an E. Kika de la Garza Fellow, I have more information on opportunities for students and professionals in various fields that go beyond what most think is available through USDA.

The E. Kika De La Garza Education Fellowship enabled me to meet with specialized professionals and obtain first-hand information about USDA services and programs, as well as educational resources and opportunities for our university community.

The most rewarding aspect of my experience has been the opportunity to contribute to the development and advancement of higher education initiatives, particularly those supporting minority students. Since the fellowship, I have had the opportunity to describe to the president of my institution how USDA programs can strengthen the mission of the university. I have also presented the benefits and scope of the fellowship to students and faculty to encourage their participation, emphasizing the importance of applying for scholarships, internships and other opportunities within the Department. By disseminating this knowledge, I have been able to contribute to the enhancement of curriculum design and grant development and support student success.

Being able to share knowledge and ideas with colleagues, professors, academic committees and the wider community has allowed me to play a role in creating a positive impact within the educational landscape.

Additionally, forming professional relationships with other fellows has been enriching, as it has provided a platform for potential collaboration and the exchange of ideas. These collaborations could benefit not only the institutions we represent but also the broader educational community.

Having the ability to share this information with colleagues, students and community members has been immensely gratifying. Overall, my experience as an EKDLG Fellow has allowed me to make meaningful contributions to higher education while also fostering collaboration, knowledge-sharing, and positive change within the academic community.

Category/Topic: Equity Initiatives