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June 26, 2007

WASHINGTON, D.C. June 26, 2007 – Faculty members from 17 Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSIs) and one high school were recognized today as E. (Kika) de la Garza Fellows in the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA’s) Hispanic-Serving Institutions National Program (HSINP). Twenty individuals were among those honored.

The USDA fellows program was established in 1998 as part of the USDA-Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU) Leadership Group, a national body appointed by the Secretary of Agriculture and the President of HACU, a San Antonio, Texas-based association founded in 1986. The goal of the program is to advance USDA's relationship with participating HSIs and enhance fellows' professional growth, while fostering workforce diversity and strengthening the nation's capacity to provide high quality education and increased opportunities for Hispanic-Americans.

Fellows, who were selected by the USDA through a competitive process, work collaboratively with USDA scientists and managers in Washington, D.C. to learn more about research and management issues and to collaborate with the USDA on food security, biotechnology, landscape horticulture and agribusiness. Fellows are provided travel and per diem expenses (for lodging, meals, and incidentals), and daily commuting costs during the program, which lasts from two to six weeks, depending on the project.

On Thursday, June 28, fellows will meet with HACU representatives to learn about collegiate programs offered by the association and legislative issues affecting Hispanic higher education.

“We are pleased and proud to partner with the USDA and we are excited about this 10th annual class of fellows,” said Dr. Antonio Flores, President of HACU. “A program such as this gives the USDA an advantage over other Federal agencies, since it creates long-term mutually beneficial relationships between the USDA and HSIs and ensures that Hispanics are incorporated into the agency’s long-term strategic needs.” 

The E. (Kika) de la Garza Fellowship, named for the Texas Congressman who chaired the House Agriculture Committee from 1981-1994, is divided into four categories, each tailored to meet the interests of fellows and provide them with an enriching experience over the course of several weeks. Fifteen Education Fellows were selected from Hispanic-Serving Institutions, accredited degree-granting institutions of higher education with a Hispanic student enrollment of 25 percent or more. One of the honorees is a High School Fellow, representing secondary education. The education and high school fellows learn about the education policymaking process by meeting with officials in various federal agencies, including the Department of Education, Housing and Urban Development, the Department of State, as well as USDA.

Three science fellows were selected; they will collaborate with scientists from USDA's Agricultural Research Service and learn about the latest agricultural research of concern to the Hispanic community. This year the program also hosts its first executive fellow, a university chancellor.

 The 2007 E. (Kika) De La Garza Fellows are:

Executive Fellow:
Cesar Cordero-Montalvo, the University of Puerto Rico-Utuado (Utuado, PR)

Three Science Fellows:
Andres Aguilar, the University of California (Merced, CA); Wilfredo Colón, Universidad Del Este (Carolina, PR); and Segun Ogunjemiyo, California State University-Fresno (Fresno, CA)

Fifteen Education Fellows:
Mark Bender, California State University-Stanislaus (Turlock, CA); Rosa Carillo, California State University-Long Beach (Long Beach, CA); Marlene Chavez-Toivanen, New Mexico State University-Grants (Grants, NM); Herbert Cortez, California State University-Monterey Bay (Seaside, CA); Martha Desmond, New Mexico State University-Main Campus (Las Cruces, NM); Luz Maria Galbreath, Whittier College (Whittier, CA);William Garcia, College of the Sequoias (Visalia, CA); Editte Gharakhanian, California State University-Long Beach (Long Beach, CA); Dan Hostetler, California State Polytechnic University-Pomona (Pomona, CA); Shonali Laha, Florida International University (Miami, FL); Marvin Lozano, Central New Mexico Community College (Albuquerque, NM); Hernan Maldonado, California State University-Fresno (Fresno, CA); Marisela Mendoza, Columbia Basin College (Pasco, WA); Tony Montoya, Colorado State University-Pueblo; and Lindsay Ono, Bakersfield College (Bakersfield, CA)

High School Fellow:
Gary Leger, Robertson High School (Las Vegas, NM)

For additional information on the E. (Kika) de la Garza Fellowship program, visit:  For more information on HACU, visit