Maria Margarita Fontecha receives the presitigous Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarship

Posted on Wednesday, November 30th, 2022

Congratulations to Maria Margarita Fontecha, a PhD candidate in Rural Studies and an Arrell Scholar, who has been awarded a Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarship. The Vanier scholarship is funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC), and she is supervised by Dr. Silvia Sarapura in the School of Environmental Design and Rural Development.  The award provides top Canadian and international doctoral students $50,000 per year for up to three years.

Maria Margarita is academically outstanding and passionately committed to ensuring that future generations are well-fed, diets are nutritious and equitable, and that agriculture is sustainable. Maria Margarita has shown unique leadership and commitment to youth inclusion in sustainable agri-food systems in areas where life options are few. In Colombia, she is a respected environmental journalist whose work has influenced lawmakers, policymakers, and youth. She is very familiar with rural contexts in Colombia, and her proposed research is urgent and critical, not only in Colombia but in all countries affected by the illicit production of crops. Her PhD proposal is based on finding alternatives and sustainable livelihood options for rural youth in Colombia.  Programs have failed to provide rural youth context-appropriated options outside agricultural illicit economies. Her PhD research proposes an agri-food development framework instead of the traditional rule of law vision to address the causes and enabling conditions that trigger youth participation in the coca economy; and the analysis of a territorial configuration. Both approaches will influence policymaking and advance research in sustainable agri-food systems for youth in Colombia and other countries in the region. She is inherently representative of the University of Guelph internationally.

Headshot of Maria Margarita FontechaImage:  Maria Margarita Fontecha

“I strongly believe that Maria Margarita will exceed our expectations.  I have had the pleasure to be working with her for three years. She is an innovator and sharp thinker, most importantly, an empathetic and true leader,” said Dr. Silvia Sarapura.

You can read more about the announcement in the UofG news story "Prestigious Vanier and Banting Awards for Two U of G Scholars."

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