Brittany Garcia, a Cal State San Bernardino President's Academic Excellence Scholar who recently graduated magna cum laude, is the recipient of a $40,000 scholarship from the Water Resources and Policy Initiatives/USDA Watershed Management Doctoral Scholarship program.
Garcia, who lives in Rialto, was awarded a bachelor's of science degree in health science and minored in psychology. She plans to use the scholarship toward her doctoral studies at the University of California, Davis, where she will be majoring in epidemiology, said Boykin Witherspoon III, executive director of WRPI.
The scholarship was made possible through the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative Competitive Grant from the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture and is part of the WRPI Watershed Management Experiential Learning for USDA Careers Internship Program.
The scholarship was created to provide financial assistance to underrepresented students enrolled in the natural and social and behavioral sciences to increase retention and graduation rates as well as address the underrepresented workforce in professional careers in the food, agricultural and natural resource systems, Witherspoon said.
"When I found out that I was the recipient of the WRPI/USDA Scholarship, I felt extremely excited and honored," Garcia said. "Three years ago when I started working at CSUSB's Water Resources Institute, I could never have imagined all of the opportunities and influential people that I would encounter during my time here at WRI and CSUSB in general. For that, I could not be more grateful and I must thank everyone at WRI for all of their support!"
"Ms. Garcia is a great success story, and it is one that this USDA NIFA-funded program is trying to duplicate," Witherspoon said. "Underrepresented, first generation-to-attend college students have unique challenges, and are underrepresented in the food, agriculture and natural resources workforce, including the USDA. This program is trying to address these factors and create that pipeline that encourages underrepresented students to pursue their graduate degrees.
"Ms. Garcia successfully completed a WRPI-USDA Watershed Management Internship with the Water Resources Institute, worked as a student research assistant on campus and at the Arrowhead Regional Medical Center, did well academically, and all the while overcoming challenges to get to where she is at now," Witherspoon said. "I am proud of Brittany and know she will succeed in her career."
Garcia praised the university and faculty for their help and guidance.
"I owe a great deal to CSUSB for the direction that I have chosen to take my career," she said. "I have received amazing guidance and support from faculty across various departments. I owe everything that I have accomplished here at CSUSB and in the future to those individuals ÔÇô they are my biggest motivation and inspiration."
While at CSUSB, Garcia participated with various campus affiliations, such as the Student Ambassador Society, the Eta Sigma Gamma National Health Education Honor Society, and as a SOAR leader during new student orientation sessions.
Garcia plans to study epidemiology by combining the fields of public health and psychology ÔÇônot only to contain diseases, but to also understand the behaviors that cause them in order to establish a means of prevention.
After completing her formal studies, Garcia would like to work for the government and teach at the university level. She has a desire to conduct outreach to underrepresented students in order to increase the participation of minority or disadvantaged students in the sciences and higher education.
The Watershed Management Experiential Learning for USDA Careers Internship Program was designed to encourage and retain underrepresented California State University students and see them through graduation toward a career with the USDA.
The program provides funding for 50 paid Watershed Management Internships per year. The internships provide an experiential approach to learning in the field of watershed management which helps students gain real-world experience in natural resource protection while developing new knowledge, skills and abilities in problem-solving from a watershed perspective.
For more information, visit the CSUSB Water Resources Institute and the Water Resources and Policy Initiatives website at http://www.calstate.edu/water.
For an electronic image of Brittany Garcia or for more information about Cal State San Bernardino, call (909) 537-5007 and visit news.csusb.edu.