Will Hehemann | School of Agriculture, Fisheries and Human Sciences
Sixteen students at the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff (UAPB) are earning their degrees tuition-free thanks to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)/1890 National Scholars Program, Belinda Demmings, USDA liaison for UAPB, said.
“USDA’s 1890 National Scholars Program awards scholarships to students attending the nation’s 19 historically Black land-grant universities,” she said. “The scholarship covers the students’ full annual tuition, room and board, and books and fees.”
Demmings said 1890 National Scholars receive experience interning at USDA agencies and are required to compete for USDA employment immediately after graduation.
“Not only do scholars finish their studies debt-free, but they also leave with work experience and their foot in the door at USDA agencies,” she said. “The experience and the professional connections they gain during internships often set them up for a solid and promising career trajectory.”
UAPB’s current USDA/1890 scholars are Jaylon Robinson, Messhriya Harris, Justin Webb, Charlese Colen, Justice Walton, Jacqueline Price, Hezekiah Kirkwood, Jameka Harston, Courtney Miller Jr., Collin Branch, Jordan Robinson, James Quincy Robinson, Erikton Goodloe, Tyler Garlington, Joshua Holloway and Hallie Roby.
“I am very proud of our USDA/1890 scholars – they all exhibit tremendous dedication in the field of agricultural sciences,” Demmings said. “I know their stories and successes can motivate other UAPB students, as well as students at other 1890 universities, to take advantage of this once in a lifetime scholarship opportunity in the future.”
Meet some of UAPB’s USDA/1890 Scholars
Roby is a sophomore major of plant science. Though she was born in Pine Bluff, she grew up and graduated from high school in Woodbury, Minnesota. She chose to major in plant science after participating in the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service’s AgDiscovery program, which is held annually at UAPB. During the summer camp, soil and plant science piqued her interest the most.
She said, “I applied for the USDA/1890 National Scholarship Program because it offered excellent opportunities for me to excel. I felt confident that I would receive the scholarship after working two internships with Georgia’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) as a soil conservationist.
I was excited once I heard I had gotten the 2022 scholarship. Now, I can continue working with NRCS but in a different field – as a soil scientist with the soil division. My training experience with NRCS has been surveying/designing with the engineers on stacking shed jobs and entering conservation practice payments in the computer.”
James “Quincy” Robinson
James “Quincy” Robinson is a senior major of computer science from Marion, Arkansas. His love of computers started at an early age. In high school he worked at a local tech shop, and later, he enrolled in UAPB’s STEM Academy.
Robinson said he knew the USDA/1890 National Scholarship Program would help him acquire the degree and training that would help him be of service to people. Since joining the program, he has completed three internships with the USDA Agricultural Research Service (ARS). He was trained in web design and software development at the National Laboratory for Genetic Resources Preservation at Fort Collins, Colorado. At the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, he gained experience in running automation tests.
He said, “I was happy to start my next step in life with the help of the USDA and was extremely excited for my internship. I’ve gained so much real-world experience working with them and have learned much about the agency and how things work.
My mentors have been amazing in ensuring I knew the systems not only in ARS, but in other USDA agencies and other federal departments as well. I hope to secure a career with the USDA ARS, assisting them with systems and security updates.”
Hezekiah Kirkwood is a sophomore major of nutrition and food science from Kansas City, Missouri. She will complete an internship as a full-time staff assistant with the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA).
Kirkwood said she chose to enroll in the UAPB Department of Human Sciences because she wanted to help others in her community.
She said, “I decided to apply to the 1890 National Scholar Program because, growing up, I struggled with health issues. Now, I can turn my health around with the proper education given through this scholarship. It provides me with the financial and educational factors to succeed in my goal to not only help myself but also use my education to help my family and those in my community.
After being accepted as a scholar, I feel relieved and accomplished because I now only have to focus on succeeding in my education and getting a degree instead of worrying about money issues. I felt accomplished because I got an opportunity that I’ve been hoping and praying for.
In addition to the full-ride scholarship, I appreciate the opportunity to network with other 1890 scholars and other students in my field, and receiving mentorship from USDA staff, as well as my USDA liaison. I also appreciate the ability to make a change in my career field by contributing to diversity as a dietitian and naturopath or as an epidemiologist.”
Erickton Goodloe is a junior major of agricultural business from Rockford, Illinois. His parents originally guided him towards an education and career in agriculture.
He said, “I specifically chose to major in agricultural business to gain an understanding of the administrative aspect of the industry. Working on the business side of agriculture has given me the opportunity to gain hands-on experience in helping farmers and ranchers manage their operations.
I was thrilled to learn I was chosen for the USDA/1890 Scholarship because it gives me the chance to do what I love without burdening my family financially.”
Goodloe has interned for the National Crop Insurance Services since his freshman year. He was trained as an insurance specialist in Kansas City, Missouri.
The University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff offers all its Extension and Research programs and services without regard to race, color, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin, religion, age, disability, marital or veteran status, genetic information, or any other legally protected status, and is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer.