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USDA Selects 2021 Class of E. Kika De La Garza Fellows

WASHINGTON, June 17, 2021 – The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) today announced the selection of 25 faculty and staff from Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSIs) across the nation as 2021 E. Kika De La Garza Fellows. This summer fellowship program offers experiences in policymaking and research through direct interaction with every USDA agency.

“These fellowships have multiple benefits for minority-serving higher education institutions,” said Lisa Ramirez, director of USDA’s Office of Partnerships and Public Engagement. “The fellows get valuable professional development, they meet federal staff for long-term collaboration opportunities, and then they share what they learned with students and colleagues at their home institutions.”

The fellowships, awarded yearly since 1998, recognize highly accomplished staff and faculty at Hispanic-Serving Institutions. Fellows are selected based on the compatibility of their interests with USDA mission areas, as well as the value their experiences will add to their institutions’ educational capacities.

Beginning on June 21, Education Fellows will attend a one-week virtual program in which they will meet with representatives of USDA. Science Fellows will spend an additional week virtually collaborating with leading scientists from USDA’s Agricultural Research Service (ARS).

The 2021 E. Kika De La Garza Education Fellows are:

  • May Patiño - Humboldt State University, Arcata, California
  • Nickolas Trujillo - West Hills College, Coalinga, California
  • Annette E. Levi - California State University, Fresno, California
  • Maral Kismetian - California State University, Fresno, California
  • Mariaelena Marcano - California State University East Bay, Hayward, California
  • Sarah Naumes - University of California, Merced, California
  • Derek Madden - Modesto Junior College, Modesto, California
  • Krista Vannest - Modesto Junior College, Modesto, California
  • Rosa Lamas Serratos - California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, California
  • Reagen Dozier - Porterville College, Porterville, California
  • Mario A. Flores - Mission College, Santa Clara, California
  • Oluwarotimi Odeh - California State University, Stanislaus, Turlock, California
  • Carrie Peterson - Woodland Community College, Woodland, California
  • Zena L. Buser - Adams State University, Alamosa, Colorado
  • Cyndia Morales Muñiz - University of Central Florida, Orlando, Florida
  • Aziza Darwish - City Colleges of Chicago, Olive-Harvey College, Chicago, Illinois
  • Roberto Vela Cordova - Texas A&M University-Kingsville , Texas
  • Anna Villarreal - Alamo Colleges District, San Antonio, Texas
  • Merritt Drewery - Texas State University, San Marcos, Texas
  • Xijun Shi - Texas State University, San Marcos, Texas

The 2021 E. Kika De La Garza High School Education Fellows are:

  • Noelle Coronado - Chicago High School for Agricultural Sciences, Chicago, Illinois
  • Jaime Jay Alejandro - Edcouch-Elsa High School, Edcouch, Texas
  • Habraham Lopez - Pharr-San Juan-Alamo ISD, Pharr, Texas

The 2021 E. Kika De La Garza Science Fellows are:

  • Ammar B. Bhandari - Texas A&M University-Kingsville, Texas
  • Susan Agolini - Marymount University, Arlington, Virginia

Hispanic-Serving Institutions are accredited and degree-granting institutions of higher education with a full-time Hispanic student enrollment of 25 percent or more. The E. Kika De La Garza Fellowship Program is an important platform for partnership between USDA and Hispanic-Serving Institutions to build awareness of USDA services, resources, and employment opportunities within the Department and the agricultural sector in general.

USDA touches the lives of all Americans each day in so many positive ways. In the Biden-Harris Administration, USDA is transforming America’s food system with a greater focus on more resilient local and regional food production, fairer markets for all producers, ensuring access to safe, healthy, and nutritious food in all communities, building new markets and streams of income for farmers and producers using climate smart food and forestry practices, making historic investments in infrastructure and clean energy capabilities in rural America, and committing to equity across the Department by removing systemic barriers and building a workforce more representative of America. To learn more, visit


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