College opens the door to knowledge, experience and opportunity. Students who go above and beyond take full advantage of all three by pursuing their interests and getting involved with campus activities. Emily Wolter and Kristen Dunn have opened that door, are prepared for the real world, and hope to encourage other students to follow their lead.
Dunn and Wolter, seniors in food science, said they felt that getting involved would prepare them for their future jobs. Being active would also provide a valuable learning experience that Dunn and Wolter could not gain by sitting in a classroom. With a little encouragement from a mentor, they dedicated their time and creativity to product development competitions.
Not all students have the same determination and competitiveness to dive into a national competition like Dunn and Wolter. The pair received encouragement from a wise peer.
Matthew Cael, master’s student in food science at Louisiana State University, graduated from Texas Tech University with a bachelor’s degree in food science. Dunn and Wolter’s eagerness and excitement to learn and excel in food science caught Cael’s attention during his time in Lubbock. The two girls stood out to him as future leaders in the food science industry. He said he knew the benefits of being involved and encouraged Dunn and Wolter to give the food science competitions a try.
“Competing through various professional organizations in one’s field affords them the opportunity to put into practice the skills that they have learned in the classroom,” Cael said.
FruiTeeze is the item the duo entered in the Institute of Food Technologists’ Student Association’s Heart Healthy Product Development Competition in Rosemont, Ill. in March 2011. The idea for the frozen treat, which is a healthier alternative to ice cream made with banana puree and cocoa, came from a blog. Paired with Wolter’s love for ice cream, the pair knew it was the perfect product for the competition.
For the competition, the team not only had to create the food product, but the final round included an oral presentation, a poster presentation and a written product development report.
According to the competition’s website, the goal of the participants was to show how the food industry ishelping consumers fulfill upcoming dietary guidelines, particularly the saturated fat recommendation. For the competition, the products had to meet the U.S. Food and Drug Administration nutrition labeling guidelines.
Wolter said the whole procedure of the competitions gave her and Dunn the opportunity to gain experience in the product development process. Although it was a very detailed and winding road, they said it was worth it in the end.
“These competitions give students the opportunity to practice product development and learn from both mistakes and triumphs, which can be applied to their future endeavors,” Wolter said.
Wolter also said that competing in these competitions can show future employers that they are not afraid to work hard, can work well with others, and have a basic understanding of the product development process.
Dunn and Wolter both strongly encourage other students to be proactive and not be afraid to get involved because it can only be beneficial for the future. They both said they hope to have set a good example for future students and urge everyone to get involved in competitions because Dunn and Wolter truly want students to succeed.
Dunn and Wolter said they greatly appreciated Cael’s encouragement and would never have accomplished what they have, to this point, if they had not gotten involved in IFT competitions. The girls both agree that they are now better prepared for the real world because of their willingness to try something new, despite all the grueling hours and extra work.
“It will probably take extra time and a lot of work, but the experience and knowledge gained is well worth it,” Dunn said. “Take your interest and run with it.”