July 4, 2016

Mesa College Professor Dr. Waverly Ray Selected as USDA 2016 (Kika) De La Garza Fellow

By Office of Communications

Dr. Waverly Ray

Dr. Waverly Ray, a geography professor at San Diego Mesa College, was one of a dozen people chosen from across the country to receive a federal fellowship from the U.S. Department of Agriculture that focuses on colleges with Hispanic-oriented programs.

In a June 12 announcement, USDA Under Secretary for Research, Education, and Economics Dr. Catherine Woteki announced the 27 members of the 2012 class of the E. (Kika) De La Garza Fellowship Program. The fellows will participate in a three-week program in Washington, D.C.  to increase their understanding of the USDA and other federal agencies.

 “It's definitely been an engaging and eye-opening experience,” reported Professor López on day two of the fellowship orientation session.  “There is so much we -- faculty and student advocates -- come away with at the end of each session that will, in the end, help serve the needs of our campuses better, particularly those of us with HSI status.”

HSIs are accredited and degree-granting institutions of higher education with a full-time Hispanic student enrollment of 25 percent or more. Through partnerships fostered by the fellowship program, USDA and HSIs are better prepared to address educational challenges faced by the Hispanic community and to promote services and employment opportunities offered by USDA agencies while diversifying the Department's workforce.

The 15th class of the E. (Kika) De La Garza Fellowship is divided into four categories -- Education, Executive, High School, and Science Fellows. As an Education Fellow, Dr. López will experience first-hand the policymaking process by meeting with USDA personnel and connecting with federal agencies such as the Department of Education, Housing and Urban Development, and the National Science Foundation.

 “I am so proud of Leticia’s achievement,” said Dr. Pamela T. Luster, President of Mesa College. “The entire college will benefit from her first-hand knowledge and experience of the national education policymaking process, and the myriad opportunities and federal programs that can benefit our students as a Hispanic Serving Institution.”

Dr. López holds a Bachelor's degree in Biology and in Spanish from Mount St. Mary's College, Los Angeles. She earned her Master's degree and Ph.D. in Hispanic Language and Literatures from the UC Santa Barbara. She lives with her husband and children in Mission Valley.

San Diego Mesa College gained status as a Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI) 2012. Mesa College is the largest of three colleges in the San Diego Community College District, which also includes City and Miramar colleges, and Continuing Education.

For a complete listing of other fellows and more information on the E. (Kika) De La Garza Fellowship program, visit:

Tags: Dr. Waverly Ray, hsi, Hispanic Serving Institutions, Geography, U.S. Department of Agriculture