Intrigued by science, a focus on health and the ability to make a difference, Alyssa Holst decided to major in food science and technology before she even stepped foot on the campus of the University of Nebraska–Lincoln.
“I’ve always really enjoyed learning about science and chemistry, and I’ve always been very health conscious,” Holst said. “There are all kinds of sciences in food science, and my love of nutrition and chemistry go very well together.”
Once on campus, the junior from Orion, Ill., dove headfirst into learning as much as she could and now holds multiple leadership positions on campus and has secured internships at name-brand companies. Through her involvement, she is preparing for her future as a food scientist, where she will embody one of the department’s mottos, “Impact the World Three Times a Day.”
This summer, Holst will work as a product development intern in North Carolina with Campbell’s Snacks, the organization responsible for favorites like Goldfish and Snyder’s Pretzels.
Last summer, Holst was a quality assurance intern at Jackson Dairy in Hutchinson, Kan., a Kroger-owned dairy plant.
“During this internship, I worked in the lab right next to the production floor and ensured that all the dairy products being produced were of the right quality and were produced safely,” Holst said. “Working in a dairy for quality assurance was a good experience in applying technical food safety rules.”
Holst also gained experience in other aspects of the food industry as a student worker in the Food Industry Center on the Innovation Campus: the dairy plant, the pilot plant and the product development lab.
“The best part is seeing how food science is applied in the real world,” she said. “It’s interesting to make ice cream and see all the ingredients that go into it and how things are made in a certain order. Working in the product development lab, we do a lot of reverse engineering when a customer has a product but wants to make it with other ingredients while keeping the look and/or taste of the product the same. So these experiences where I get to see how science is applied to food in real situations are really cool.”
Outside of the lab, Holst is busy recruiting new students and enriching the experience of current students as an undergraduate ambassador for the Department of Food Science and Technology and president of the Food Science Club. The Food Science Club, a student chapter of the Institute of Food Technology, holds monthly meetings, brings in industry speakers and provides networking opportunities.
As a department ambassador, Holst channels her passion for food science and the department into recruiting opportunities for high school and other students.
“I really think our department is something very special,” she said. “It provides unique opportunities for students, and I want to share that and my knowledge of our department and my passion for it, but also just to teach people about food science.”
After graduation, Holst hopes to continue working in product development, where she will take raw materials and turn them into foods you find in the grocery store, impacting the world three times a day. For now, she is focused on getting the most out of her internship and continuing to spread the word about the Food Science and Technology Department.
“I love the opportunities the department provides for its students,” Holst said. “I’m involved in so many things inside and the department makes it very easy to get involved if you want to. I think it’s something unique, especially compared to other departments or other food science departments at other universities. We just have a lot of opportunities available so that students can develop further professionally or academically and even personally.”