CORVALLIS, Ore. – Six minority students at Oregon State University will get closer to achieving their career dreams through OSU and the United States Department of Agriculture Multicultural Scholars Program.
USDA grants will provide each student with four years of tuition, a paid summer internship, and a trip to a national career fair, all part of the mission to promote multicultural diversity in agriculture, especially in higher level positions where minorities are underrepresented.
Two of the USDA Multicultural Scholars have specific goals that are rooted in Oregon’s migrant worker communities where they hope to make a difference. Emily Escobedo foresees a career in protecting migrant workers and their families from exposure to pesticides; Omar Miranda-Garcia will focus on improving the health, fitness and nutrition of minority populations.
All six students are part of OSU's Bioresource Research Program, a nationally recognized undergraduate program that engages students in high level, real-world research in agriculture, natural resources, food science, and human health and nutrition.
Besides providing a rigorous science curriculum and focus on research, OSU offers extracurricular support to minority scholars through the student organization Minorities in Agriculture, Natural Resources, and Related Sciences. MANRRS, also supported by the USDA, provides leadership training, peer mentoring and the opportunity to make connections during its national conference and career fair.
These OSU programs, and support from the USDA, have already made a difference for pre-veterinary student Ashley Seeley. Unable to pay for a fourth year of college, Seeley’s goal of becoming a Spanish-speaking vet in Oregon was in doubt. As a Multicultural Scholar, Seeley is now looking forward to completing her pre-vet-med program with a language immersion exchange in Spain and an internship in applied genetics at the OSU College of Veterinary Medicine.
The funding and support from OSU and USDA are intended to remove barriers faced by minority and first-generation college students and provide them with research and leadership experiences to build skills and connections necessary for entering graduate school or professional careers.
"We know that bioresource research training is really valuable," said Wanda Crannell, who advises students in the BRR and MANRRS programs. “Making it available to under-represented, first-generation diversity students, and encouraging them to pursue a tougher major and add more breadth and experience, is going to make them more competitive in their careers.”
OSU's USDA Multicultural Scholars are:
• Danielle Naylor, Harlingen, Texas
• Emily Escobedo, Nyssa, Ore.
• Tiffany Harper, Junction City, Ore.
• Omar Miranda-Garcia, Forest Grove, Ore.
• Martine Torres, Lake Oswego, Ore.
• Ashley Seeley, Salem, Ore.