Auburn University graduates have sponsored the first Hispanic Alumni Endowed Scholarship in the College of Forestry, Wildlife and Environment, or CFWE.
Erica Santana, a 2010 wildlife science alumna, and Sebastian D. Rodriguez, a 2015 natural resources management alumnus, sponsored the endowed scholarship to support the advancement of diversity and inclusion in the college.
“Our experiences and academic journeys at Auburn have compelled us to provide this opportunity for other Hispanic and Latino students,” Rodriguez said.
Historically, Black and Latino students have been underrepresented in natural resources management. The idea behind the scholarship is to increase academic opportunity for these populations pursuing forestry and wildlife career paths, according to Santana. Increasing demographic diversity also increases diversity in experience, opinion, perspective and culture, which is a vital part of managing public trust resources.
“Endowing and providing this annual scholarship is one small step toward evolving resource management into a more inclusive discipline,” Santana said.
Kenneth Day, a 1981 Auburn forestry management graduate, approached Santana, Rodriguez and other alumni to propose the creation of the endowment for Hispanic students, similar to one he helped to create for African American students in 2015.
The two alumni are grateful for the support of Kenneth Day, 1979 forestry management graduate Dana Little and Heather Crozier, the CFWE’s director of development.
“Ken recently had success with launching the African American Alumni Endowed Scholarship and wanted to expand on similar initiatives,” said Rodriguez. “This scholarship really wouldn’t exist without him.”
As sponsors, Santana and Rodriguez have established the funding and will serve as ambassadors to build the endowment in partnership with other alumni and the college.
“This endowed scholarship will create a more inclusive environment in our college and ultimately serve to diversify the fields of forestry, wildlife and natural resources,” said Janaki Alavalapati, dean of the College of Forestry, Wildlife and Environment. “We sincerely appreciate the contributions of our alumni to benefit our students and the future of our industries.”
(Written by Avanelle Elmore)