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1890 Scholars Program Revealed and Strengthened Skills

Posted by MD Sharman, Public Affairs Specialist, USDA Office of Partnerships and Public Engagement in Equity Initiatives
Apr 23, 2024
Kristina Edwards

Kristina Edwards learned about the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) 1890 National Scholars Program her senior year in high school. One year later, she was named an 1890 Scholar and remained one for the entirety of her time at Prairie View A&M in Texas. “Receiving this honor made me proud of my accomplishments,” she said. “I was excited and relieved. The scholarship made me feel financially secure and enabled me to confidently focus solely on my education.”

Monetary benefits of the program include a full-ride scholarship covering tuition, room and board, fees and the cost of books. Scholars also have the opportunity to participate in internships at USDA.

Kristina became interested in agriculture, specifically nutrition and dietetics, to improve her health and break the generational cycles of chronic disease in her family. She wanted to concentrate solely on nutritional science until she interned with the USDA Economic Research Service and the Farm Service Agency and discovered skills she didn’t even know she had.

“I learned about data analysis, interpreting data, and presenting it in a unique way,” she said. “Those skills I gained in my internship opened me up to things I never thought I’d excel at. I didn’t think of myself as a data or numbers person, but it turns out I’m actually pretty good at it.”

The scholarship also introduced her to the USDA liaison at her university, Horace Hodge, who played a critical role in assisting Kristina with her aspirations. “Even today, I still connect with Horace and keep in touch,” she said. “He made me feel important enough that it felt like having a personal mentor.” USDA liaisons like Horace serve as key representatives for USDA across America, connecting communities, students, faculty and staff, farmers, ranchers, foresters and others to the Department’s programs and initiatives.

Kristina expressed gratitude and shared insight about the program to future scholars. “I’m glad I had this experience because I now have a more well-rounded background,” she said. “Students need to be open-minded and open to working in an area that may not exactly match your background, because you may discover strengths.”

Today she still makes a difference in the agriculture realm, performing data analytics as a fellow for a humanitarian group that provides support in the food security sector. After completion of the fellowship in 2025, she plans to obtain her master’s degree and potentially work for a government agency.

Category/Topic: Equity Initiatives