Two Ohio State students have been recognized by the Udall Foundation. Udall recognizes outstanding students involved in leadership, service, and careers related to the environment, and awards $7,000 toward undergraduate expenses to 55 undergraduates nationally.
Regina Loayza, a junior majoring in Environmental Policy and Decision Making with a minor in Andean and Amazonian Studies, has been awarded the Udall Undergraduate Scholarship in the environment category. Loayza will attend the Udall Scholar five-day conference in August in Tucson, Arizona. Lakaya Deegan, a sophomore majoring in Sociology with a minor in American Indian Studies, has received an Honorable Mention for the scholarship in the Tribal Public Policy category.
Loayza plans to attend law school to pursue her goals of becoming an environmental lawyer who holds environmental polluters accountable and advocates for environmental justice after graduating with her Bachelor of Science. Through an internship at the U.S. Senate on Agricultural, Nutrition, and Forestry, Loayza gained a passion for supporting farm workers, especially undocumented workers. As the Ohio State Liaison for the Association of Big Ten Students, Loayza used the knowledge she gained from her internship to advocated for the Farm Workforce Modernization Act (a policy that would create a pathway to citizenship for qualifying undocumented farm workers) and has taken the lead on setting up scholarship funds at Big Ten schools for farm workers and their children. At Ohio State she is conducting research about soil health and regenerative agricultural with Dr. Rattan Lal at the Center for Carbon Management and Sequestration and has taken an active role in the Undergraduate Student Government spearheading the fossil fuel divestment project. Additionally, she interned with Columbus City Council Member Lourdes Barroso de Padilla, the city’s first Latina council member, and won the Esperanza Youth Award for her work empowering Latinos. She has already made major strides toward her goals of advocating for farmers, marginalized groups, and the Global South.
After graduating from Ohio State, Deegan plans to attend law school and work to help people who have limited access to legal advice, specifically members of Native communities who are underrepresented such as elders and young tribal members. She holds a leadership role as the Undergraduate Representative in the American Indian Studies Department working to build a community of indigenous scholars and students at Ohio State. Additionally, she is involved on campus as an active participant of the NativeOSU group and the Second-year Transformational Experience Program (STEP). In a state with no Federally Recognized tribes or reservations, Deegan’s advocacy work in and for Native communities has been vital in supporting Native community at Ohio State.