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It’s so important that we get youth involved with food science because eventually, it is going to be us that will experience nine billion people on the planet.
For Cydney Jackson, a student at Alabama Agricultural and Mechanical (A&M) University, her Feeding Tomorrow scholarship to the Cornell University Summer Scholars program did more than help her fulfill a degree requirement—it illuminated new pathways to reaching her goal of keeping people healthy through food science.
Growing up, Jackson imagined she would become a doctor as a way to help people. Her cousin, a food scientist, offered her a job where she saw first hand what a food scientist does and how vast the field is. “I learned that with food science, there is an opportunity to combine health and agriculture,” says Jackson.
She enrolled in the food science program at Alabama A&M and joined the local Institute for Food Technologists chapter. In her school’s lab, she studies the phytochemical content of fruits and vegetables. In the lab at Cornell, she expanded her focus to increasing the bioavailability of iron and absorption of nutrients into the body. “I’m getting a different look at food science,” she says, noting that it has been one of the most interesting experiences of her education.
For Jackson, food science offers a higher calling. She was raised with a sense of service and connection to community through her church. In addition to studying nutrition and helping people become healthier through food choices, she says she believes in volunteering with organizations like IFT and Feeding Tomorrow. “I think it’s important to give back to the community, and one way of doing that is introducing the younger generation to food science,” she says. “It’s so important that we get youth involved with food science because eventually, it is going to be us that will experience nine billion people on the planet.”
Jackson’s sights are set on finding ways to feed the people of the future and solving nutritional challenges. While she has not decided exactly which area of food science she will follow toward this goal, she is grateful for the opportunity to explore multiple paths with the help of her scholarships.
“It’s very important to get a lot of internship experience whether it’s research based or in the industry,” she says. “If you want to get a broader perspective of working in the lab or the floor of a product plant, you can apply what you learned in the classroom, and life experience is one of the best ways to work.”
Profile updated 2019