IFAS simply wouldn’t be what it is without immigrants.
Dorota Haman and Ramesh Reddy lead departments, Gbola Adesogan fights childhood malnutrition in eight nations through livestock production, Saqib Mukhtar crisscrosses the state to support Extension. Nian Wang may be the most likely scientist to find the silver bullet that slays citrus greening.
We’re a science organization, and science is a global community. All six Americans who won Nobel prizes in science in 2016 are immigrants. We at UF/IFAS have the good fortune of having many international students among our scientists-to-be.
One of the great benefits of being displaced by renovations in McCarty D last year was working in a warren of windowless offices I shared with graduate students.
One of them knocked on my door and told me she was from Watamu, a small coastal village located on the North coast of Kenya that I would be visiting. She’s a dreamer – not the DACA-type, but a dreamer nonetheless.
Isigi Kadagi’s dream is to build a marine research and field station in Watamu, and help connect UF/IFAS to all of sub-Saharan Africa.
She’s not waiting until she finishes her Ph.D. to do it. She has organized a 10-day fisheries stock assessment workshop where UF/IFAS will be present on the coast of Kenya and working with fisheries officials from nine African nations.
Isigi gives UF the opportunity to live out its aspirations of global impact. Her adviser, Rob Ahrens, had no previous experience in Africa. Now, though, through a Kenyan with a dream, he will be immensely enriched. It’s already giving Rob a new dream, to establish Watamu, Kenya, and Africa as destinations for future fisheries students.
Dreamers from around the world like Isigi inspire dreams in the U.S.-born people they have contact with. That’s especially important in our business – higher education. It’s our job to give people the tools they need to make their dreams come true. We do that so much more successfully because of immigrant faculty and international students who see IFAS as the vehicle for achieving their dreams.
We live in a world of geopolitical borders. Great land-grant universities don’t let those borders contain their ideas or prevent their engagement in the wider world. That’s why we must continue to do all we can to make UF/IFAS a home for dreams, no matter from where the dreamers come.