Diego Tovar, a junior in Colorado State University’s Warner College of Natural Resources, was recently named a Udall Scholar, a prestigious honor recognizing those committed to careers focusing on the environment, Native American issues or health care.
Tovar, who is majoring in ecosystem science and sustainability with a minor in political communication, was one of 55 students from 42 colleges and universities to be selected as a 2021 Udall Scholar.
This marks the seventh consecutive year that a CSU student has been named a Udall Scholar. Since 2015, nine students have received 11 scholarships from the Udall Foundation.
Each scholarship provides $7,000 for the scholar’s junior or senior year of academic study. A 20-member independent review committee selected this year’s group on the basis of commitment to careers in the environment, Native American public policy or Native health care.
“I’m extremely honored to be named a Udall Scholar,” said Tovar, who is from Austin, Texas. “To me, it means that the hard work that I’ve been doing in my community is paying off and making a difference. At the end of the day, that’s all I want to do.”
Udall Honorable Mention
Noelle Mason, a sophomore studying biological sciences in the College of Natural Sciences, was named a Udall Scholar Honorable Mention. Mason, who has a strong passion for animal conservation, was among the Honorable Mentions selected by the Udall review committee.
Mason, who also writes for The Rocky Mountain Collegian, hopes to one day pursue a career in conservation genomics. read more
Promoting equitable experiences
Active within MANRRS — Minorities in Agriculture, Natural Resources and Related Sciences — Tovar helped organize volunteering at the Environmental Learning Center and planting trees in the Fort Collins community. Prepandemic photos
For Tovar, ensuring that people have equitable experiences at CSU and beyond is important.
Tovar is a senator for the Associated Students of Colorado State University, having created the Diversity and Inclusion Caucus to promote inclusivity and the intersectionality of identities at CSU.
“It bothers me when not everyone has a spot at the table to express their opinions and share what matters to them,” he said. “That’s what drives me. My goal is to make sure everyone has the opportunity to do that.”
Tovar also serves as president of CSU’s chapter of MANRRS — Minorities in Agriculture, Natural Resources and Related Sciences. In that position, he has organized several events to help students professionally grow and support the environment.
At Warner College, Tovar has been a stand-out leader, serving as president of the Warner College Council to foster a sense of community for students.
“Having Diego named as a Udall Scholar brings us great pride in Warner College,” said Dean John P. Hayes. “He is a stellar student very deserving of the honor. We know that his dedication as a student and his passion for the environment and leadership will lend to the opportunities and experiences he’ll be granted through the scholarship.”
Inside the Beltway
Tovar plans to attend graduate school after CSU to pursue a master’s degree in public policy, with the hope of one day running for public office.
By all accounts, he’s already off to a great start.
In his home state of Texas, Tovar has worked for U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett’s office, researching the implications of carbon taxing and carbon capture and storage. Tovar sat in on meetings of the House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis, taking notes for the congressman’s team.
Inside the Beltway, Tovar also worked for the Navajo Nation Washington Office as an environmental legislative analyst intern. There, he attended congressional hearings and meetings, compiling reports on the various viewpoints of congresspeople.
“Regulation reversals can lead to so many impacts on so many different groups,” he said. “There’s a huge gap between the industrial and natural that needs to be closed again, and that’s hurting sustainability.”
Bottom line, Tovar said he wants to make a difference in protecting the environment through civil rights and health policies. He said his experiences at CSU have helped him along his journey through the support of faculty, advisers and friends.
“A lot of my college success comes from them and their support, so I really appreciate them for that,” he said. “Warner College works to be inclusive, and that’s shown in the community. I’ve just felt really welcomed here from the start.”
About the Udall Scholarship program
Established by Congress in 1992 as an independent executive branch agency to honor U.S. Rep. Morris K. Udall, the Udall Foundation awards scholarships, fellowships and internships for study in fields related to the environment and to Native Americans and Alaska Natives in the fields of health care and tribal public policy.
Since the Udall Scholarships were established in 1996, the Udall Foundation has awarded more than 1,600 scholarships totaling more than $8.4 million.
Current CSU undergraduate students interested in applying for a Udall Scholarship can contact Eliz Hale at firstname.lastname@example.org.