Face-to-Face: Meet Alexandria Huck and Quyen Nguyen
Ever wonder if anyone else is facing the same professional challenges as you? Or just looking to connect with some new people in your field? In IFT's Face-to-Face series, we will be introducing you to a different IFT member every month with a fun, insightful Q&A session.
This month meet...
The University of Arkansas student winners of the IFT Heart-Healthy Product Development Competition: Quyen Nguyen, senior studying Food Science, and Alexandria Huck, senior studying Food Science and Dietetics.
- What made you interested in pursuing a career in the food industry?
Quyen: I have loved cooking and learned about food since I was a teenager. I believe that by looking at the food we eats, enables us to see how healthy we are. Food science is always relevant to health, and that makes it so interesting to me. The more I learn, the more I know that I have fallen in love with this job and I never want to do anything. Life may lead me in a slightly different direction; however, regardless of what I will do, I know that my goal to work as a Food Scientist will never change.
Alex: Food science is a very applicable science. Food has, and always will be important, yet things are always changing. There are so many different opportunities within the food industry.
- What area of food science interests you the most? Why?
Quyen: In the future, I plan to pursue a career as a product and process developer. The fact is that I have spent more than a year involved in food development team of the Food Science Department. I have really learned as well as enjoyed the thought processes that goes into developing and carrying out new food products.
Alex: Product development interests me the most because we can create something new every time. It is also a good way to incorporate all of the knowledge that I have learned here at the University of Arkansas.
- In the Heart-Healthy Product Development contest, what was the biggest challenge that you faced?
Quyen: The biggest challenge that I faced was to keep the puffed millet on the bar. Wow, it drove us crazy to fix this problem. Finally, we did make it happen!
Alex: The biggest challenge that we faced during the competition was meeting all of the nutrient requirements. We also ran into problems trying to create the right texture with the coating for our bar.
- Through the project, what did you learn or were exposed to that has helped you in your education?
Quyen: I learned that problems could happen anytime and how to apply the knowledge from textbooks to solve those problems. Now, I truly believe that knowledge is power; therefore, for the next two years, my principal career goal is to continue with the graduate school program right after my bachelor degree. This step not only builds up my in-depth knowledge about my area but also helps me be more competitive, making it easier to enter the job market.
Alex: Throughout this project, I learned a lot about how to think more along the lines of creating a successful product for the marketplace as opposed to just a tasty product. We have to think about whether the product can be manufactured, how long it will be able to be kept on a grocery store shelf, and whether consumers would even be accepting of it or not.
- As a student soon to enter the job market, what do you see as the #1 challenge facing the food industry?
Quyen: In my opinion, the number one challenge for the food industry nowadays is how we can reformulate the products to make them healthier but still tasty. I love children and this is a reason I want to devote my career path to researching and developing healthy food for them. I think that children are our future and they are in great need of healthy nutrient-rich diets, especially now more than ever when the number of overweight and obese children has been grown continuously. Joining the food industry, I want to develop a nutrition program in which food not only is helpful for their healthy growth but also lend a hand on preventing them from getting sick.
Alex: I think the hardest thing facing the food industry today is educating the consumers. A lot of consumers misunderstand the industry and what is in their food and tend to assume the worst.
- Fun Fact: What’s your favorite food?
Quyen: My favorite food is durian, which is well known as “King of Fruit” in many Asian countries. This fruit has an ugly spikey covering but inside, there is a creamy, custardy, and tasty flesh. It is totally yummy to me but may be unpleasant to some people.
Alex: My favorite food is fresh, hot apple cake with vanilla ice cream.
If you are an IFT member and wish to be profiled, please contact Kelly Hensel at firstname.lastname@example.org or 312-604-0211.