The Friedman School is pleased to announce that this year’s student Commencement speaker is Nayla Bezares, MS candidate in the Agriculture, Food and Environment program.
Nayla was born and raised on the beautiful island of Puerto Rico. She trained as a problem solver at the University of Puerto Rico-Mayaguez where she earned her bachelor's degree in Chemical Engineering with a minor in Materials Science. After graduation, Nayla found a new home in Wisconsin where she worked as a systems engineer for a large food manufacturing company. Noticing a stark difference between the bountiful food system of the Midwest and that within which she grew up, she was motivated to ask deeper questions about food access and food security based on different zip codes. She found herself working with urban youth in Milwaukee to answer these questions and decided to leave a promising career in the food industry to take an active role in addressing food systems challenges that span from environmental impacts to available food choices.
Noticing a stark difference between the bountiful food system of the Midwest and that within which she grew up, she was motivated to ask deeper questions about food access and food security based on different zip codes.
While completing her master's degree in Agriculture, Food and Environment as an Ellen H. Block Scholar, Nayla was actively involved in the Friedman School community. Under the direction of Dr. Tim Griffin and alongside other students, she helped develop the Tufts Food Lab. With the guidance of Dr. Will Masters and Dr. Ellen Messer, she collaborated in a research project "Resilience and Recovery Among Agroecological Farmers in Puerto Rico After Hurricane Maria" which highlighted the importance of informal networks in developing food systems resilience within the island. Nayla also co-founded Baravena Helados, Latin-inspired whole-grain frozen desserts made with oats, which won the Tufts Food and Nutrition Entrepreneurship Competition. As a co-chair of the Friedman Justice League, she worked with other student leaders to develop a student-led seminar series through which students, faculty, and staff can address topics that are relevant across all Friedman School programs. Additionally, she served as a graduate student representative for the school’s first Committee on Social Justice, Inclusion and Diversity and was recently inducted into Friedman’s Honos Civicus Society.
After graduation, Nayla will remain active in the Friedman community as she will begin her doctoral studies in the Agriculture, Food and Environment Program.
Please help us congratulate Nayla and we look forward to hearing her address on Sunday, May 19th!