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Diallo Peterson, recipient of the USDA 1890 National Scholar Program.

USDA 1890 National Scholar Program Recipient Reflects on Experience at NIFA

Guest Author
Diallo Patterson, Tuskegee University

The USDA 1890 National Scholar Program, a partnership between USDA and the 1890 Land-grant Universities, aims to encourage students at 1890s institutions to pursue food and agriculture career paths. Recipients receive academic aid and the potential opportunity for work experience at USDA.

Diallo Patterson, a recent recipient of the 1890 National Scholar Program, shares a brief overview of his time spent working for USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture.  

Tell us a little about your path into your current field of study.   

My family history and my experiences as a youth have shaped my perceptions about agriculture and natural resource sciences. My maternal grand and great-grandparents grew up farming in Tennessee to sustain their family and supply the local grocery stores. Witnessing my relatives' appreciation for the land and their commitment to producing quality produce influenced my decision to pursue a food science career.  

Why did you apply to the 1890 National Scholars Program?  

Because food is a vital necessity, my long-term goal is to help ensure food is safely developed for consumption. I applied because working for the USDA will allow me to positively impact agriculture practices that increase crop yield and improve food quality. To help achieve my long-term goal, I desire to have a career at the USDA within NIFA and the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) agencies after earning my undergraduate degree in Food Science from Tuskegee University. During my career at the USDA, I hope to develop new and innovative ways to grow crops, conserve and preserve our natural resources and shape public policy decisions mutually beneficial to farmers, consumers, and private industry.  

Can you share your experience with the USDA agency/institute you interned for? What did you learn during your time with USDA?  

During the summer of 2022, I had the pleasure of interning with NIFA for four weeks and was truly inspired by the groundbreaking impact that NIFA has across our nation. I was introduced to panel reviews and the attention to detail regarding various proposals being reviewed. NIFA is committed to diversity because I represent a cultural and geographic background that is underrepresented in agriculture.  

What advice do you have for students interested in pursuing a similar career path or considering applying to the 1890 National Scholars Program?  

In the words, Hippocrates once said, "Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food." As a USDA scholar, be prepared to be a public servant and continue to provide leadership in the community to improve lives and wellness through the foods we consume. Let us get to work.   

Anything else you would like to add or share?   

Do not limit yourself. Always dream big. Then dream bigger. Nothing can stop you! 

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