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LEADING Hispanics symposium, career fair highlight student research, USDA opportunities

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Fatima Quiroz, New Mexico State University

Fatima Quiroz, New Mexico State University

KINGSVILLE (Feb. 13, 2024) — Texas A&M University-Kingsville’s LEADING Hispanics program hosted its inaugural Symposium and Career Fair Monday, Feb. 12, at the Caesar Kleberg Wildlife Center.

The event was in relation to the $20 million Leading Hispanics to Federal Agency Employment (LEADING: Leading and Enhancing Agricultural Development in the Next Generation) grant awarded to the university by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) back in June 2023. The grant, which is the largest in university history, funds the LEADING Hispanics program designed to create paths towards careers in food, agricultural, natural resources and human sciences (FANH) for high school, undergraduate and graduate students.

The symposium and career fair was the first opportunity for the LEADING Hispanics program to showcase student research through a series of presentations since the grant was awarded in June 2023. Presentations were made by students from Texas A&M-Kingsville as well as students from partnering institutions Texas State, New Mexico State University and the University of Puerto Rico–Mayaguez.

“This gives students the opportunity to show others what they have done and have other people see the importance of their work, which gives sort of a pride to the students,” said Dr. Natasha Mast, associate professor of animal science and ruminant nutrition and grant project director.

“This also is an opportunity for the four universities to finally get together. This is the first chance for all of the students in the program to be able to get together, network, meet each other and see what everyone is doing across the other universities. This is a great opportunity for them because these are people who are going to be graduating and going into similar career fields as them,” she said.


In the afternoon, the career fair featured more than 20 representatives from multiple USDA agencies from across the country that helped inform students about various career and internship opportunities.

“Our career fair is USDA specific,” Mast said. “While our students know what USDA is, they don’t know what USDA has to offer. They don’t understand that USDA is made up of multiple agencies and we have multiple agencies with multiple employees from each respective agency able to say these are the job options and the benefits from these jobs. It will showcase a lot of different options that students might not know about without something like this.”

In addition to program students and faculty from all partnering universities, Mast said multiple high schools from the local area were invited. TAMUK students not involved in the program also were welcome at the career fair.

For more information, please contact Mast at 361-593-2060 or


Category: General Univ , Ag/Env & Wildlife Sci

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