Serving Locally and Globally

Mica Magtoto is armed with a heart for service.

“I’ve always known I want to leave a positive mark on the world by serving others,” she says.

The junior in nutritional science, international agriculture and public relations found her calling as a high school student in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences George Washington Carver Research Internship Program.

The program offered her unique opportunities like studying eye cancer using a zebrafish model and assisting research to detect environmental toxins.

“The internships identified the scope of agriculture and helped me understand how I can contribute to others,” she says.

Iowa State was a clear choice for Magtoto. When selecting a major, her goal of serving others was paramount to the decision.

“The prevention of disease is a strong component of nutrition. I knew I could apply that knowledge and help people and communities,” she says. “Nutrition affects people globally.”

Magtoto is an animated conversationalist, creating opportunities to learn with each discussion. She credits her family, who emigrated from the Philippines, with fostering her need to serve others and providing the motivation to educate on a global level.

Involvement in student organizations has been a key part of Magtoto’s student experience. She’s an active member of Minorities in Agriculture, Natural Resources and Related Sciences and traveled with the group to Tuskegee University’s George Washington Carver Symposium. She also participates in Enactus, an organization focusing on social entrepreneurship.

“Mica loves her major and sees the intersection of multiculturalism in her studies inside and outside the classroom. Though awareness of diversity means the acknowledgement of difference, Mica understands food belongs to everyone and is something that unites us,” says Elizabeth Martinez-Podolsky, multicultural liaison officer for the college.

Last year, Magtoto participated in an agricultural business study program to Argentina. She quickly connected with fellow students and immersed herself in Argentinian culture. Her experience studying abroad was followed by an internship in Peru with an organization providing outreach, nutrition resources and education to domestic workers and youth.

“I saw children who had so little, but loved going to school, loved learning and loved life,” she says. “The experience inspired me and gave me a passion for educating others.”

Magtoto returned from the internship and began service with AmeriCorps, providing educational programing in food culture and nutrition at the Ames Boys and Girls Club.

According to Theressa Cooper, assistant dean of diversity for the college, Magtoto’s continual search for knowledge and ability to apply what she’s learned in daily life makes her unique.

“Mica is a careful and creative thinker with an eye for details and a devotion to logic,” she says. “These skills are making her an excellent scientist and will serve her well in the future as an advocate of multicultural diversity.”