NIFA Grants and Student Employment Workshop
Remarks at NIFA Grants and Student Employment Workshop
Remarks as prepared for delivery by Alfred V. Almanza, Deputy Under Secretary for Food Safety, Texas State University, College of Applied Arts, NIFA Grants and Student Employment Workshop, August 27, 2015
Good morning and thank you for being here today. I’m Al Almanza, the Deputy Under Secretary of the Food Safety and Inspection Service and I am very happy to talk to all of you today.
For those of you who don’t know, FSIS is the agency within USDA that regulates meat, poultry, and processed egg products.
We perform carcass-by-carcass inspection so that Americans are guaranteed safe products and don’t have to worry about getting sick from the food they eat.
Our system is the most reliable in the world, and I take great pride in the inspection process after having begun my own career as a line inspector right here in Texas.
Never in my wildest dreams did I think that that position would lead me to where I am now.
But, as you can see, FSIS has presented me with a wealth of opportunities.
My story, and the story of many others in the agency are representative of the American Dream.
They demonstrate the fact that, with hard work and great perseverance, you really can achieve your goals and become a leader to create change.
My Brother’s Keeper
At USDA, we are working with numerous organizations to enhance diversity and inclusion within the Department.
You may have heard of President Obama’s Initiative called “My Brother’s Keeper”—it’s an initiative to get young men of color more opportunities so that everyone has an opportunity to succeed.
I firmly believe that anyone who works hard should have the opportunity to succeed and that everyone should have access to the tools that will allow them to get there, regardless of their background.
No matter what gender or race you are, I hope you will consider the public service and FSIS for your career.
Currently, half of the federal workforce is approaching retirement age, so it’s really important for us to recruit young, determined students like you.
At USDA, there is great potential for you to succeed and many opportunities for upward mobility if you are a hard worker.
We have many positions in Washington, D.C. but the majority of our positions are throughout the country in our field offices.
My own story is an example of the opportunity within FSIS. When I was an inspector in San Antonio, Texas I had an area supervisor who pushed me to be more than what I thought I wanted to be.
I think that I owe a great deal of my success in this agency to that supervisor because he pushed me to apply for jobs outside of my comfort zone.
After working as an inspector and in various program manager positions, I ended up working in labor relations.
Through that job, I met a lot of people and was able to take other positions that led me to eventually becoming District Manager in Dallas.
After that, I was asked to serve as Administrator and now Deputy Under Secretary.
So my take-away for you, is that you can’t necessarily plan your career path. But, if you work hard and remain open to new opportunities, you will position yourself towards success.
The work we do at FSIS is really vital to our country, and our most valuable asset at FSIS is our people.
We have people who work in research, policy development, inspection, international trade, risk assessments, and consumer education.
All of them play an extremely important role in our overall mission to protect the public from foodborne illness.
I hope that you will all consider FSIS as an employer and that you will talk more with our Human Resources rep, Joe Abbott, afterwards.
Thanks again for being here and I would like to take any questions you might have right now.