Savannah Praay is a 2016 IFMA International Gold & Silver Plate Society stipend recipient. She attends Michigan State University and is majoring in food science. Find out what she had to say when we asked her a few questions about her foodservice stipend and future career.
What is your major & what made you decide on it?
My major is food science. There were several contributing factors to my decision to study food science. Originally, when I trying to decide on my major, all I knew was that I wanted to study something that applied science to the real world, something that affects our daily life. I have always had a love for cooking and baking, but never thought of them as more than hobbies that could never be part of a career. Then I discovered food science. It was such a bizarre and wonderful concept that science could be applied to the food that we eat and that it happens for every single product that we see on the market and every ingredient in that product. I believe that as a food scientist, one can use their knowledge of chemistry and biology to make products that are safer and better for the consumer, whether they know it or not.
How has your stipend enabled you to pursue a career in foodservice?
This stipendp has provided me with the means to achieve my educational goals, so that my dreams can eventually become a reality. With the high cost of a college education, it is often hard for students to take the time they need to apply themselves to their education, especially if they are employed. This scholarship will allow me to have a tighter focus on finishing my undergraduate education and to eventually move on to graduate school. Although education is just the first step to reaching one's career goals, it lays the foundation for the knowledge and experience it takes to succeed.
What was your first job in foodservice?
My first job in food service was, and still is, at the Michigan State University Dairy Plant. There, I aid in all aspects of the production of cheeses and ice creams. I am involved in the manufacturing of those products as well as the packaging and distribution of them. In this position, it is easy to see the effect that the process has on the final product and how important practices of cleanliness and safety are.
What would you say is your "dream job" after you graduate?
My dream job after I graduate is to be in a position where I can help to develop new and intriguing foods. I've always loved being creative, whether it's drawing and painting, or trying a new recipe out in the kitchen. I think that working as a research and development scientist would be an amazing way to create new products and to challenge myself.
What have you learned that you will apply to a career in foodservice?
One of the most important things that I have learned and will apply to a career in food service is how important efficient communication is. Whether it be something small or something large, communication is very important whenever one is dealing with a product that will eventually make its way to a customer, so any uncertainty cannot be tolerated.
What are some of the challenges students like you face in today's world of foodservice?
One of the challenges that students like me face in today's world of food service is making themselves stand out. As a student in a large program of food science students, it takes a lot to differentiate oneself from the 100 other students at graduation. It is very important that students take advantage of the resources available to them and create a personal educational experience, whether that be through undergraduate research, undergraduate employment, or an internship.
Do you have mentor? How have they helped you?
I have had several mentors in my life, but one of these has had a large impact on helping me to realize my educational and career goals. This mentor gave me the information that I needed to choose the career path that was right for me. It is often difficult to narrow down your focus in college, but she helped me to understand what I desired out of a career and how to attain that career.
What is your favorite meal?
There is no specific meal that I can label as my favorite, however there are several attributes that I look for in a good meal. I have never been an elaborate cook or baker, but I often look for recipes that instead of being intensive and difficult, offers a method that is easy enough to repeat. I also prefer meals that are delicious, but also balanced and healthy.
What companies have you worked at for internships?
I have interned for the company, J Rettenamier USA.
About the IFMA Education Foundation:
The IFMA Education Foundation promotes the next generation of foodservice leaders. The Foundation is committed to give qualified culinary, marketing or food science students support toward completion of education requirements. Over the years, we've accomplished our goal by providing scholarships, publications, educational programs, internships and stipends to accredited institutions and individuals enrolled in accredited institutions.
Do you want to support the next generation of foodservice by making a donation to IFMA's Education Foundation?
Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.