Program and area of focus: Masters of Public Policy, Food Policy and Agriculture
Full time/part time: full time
Where are you from: Martinsville, NJ
Where do you live: Hilltown, PA
Where did you earn your bachelors and what did you study?
I initially went to Raritan Valley Community College part-time and studied early childhood education, music and environmental studies. I then transferred to Rutgers University where I graduated with an Environmental Policy, Institutions and Behaviors B.S., with a concentration in Food Policy and Agriculture.
What did you enjoy most about this experience?
I am grateful for all of the faculty and staff at my community college who encouraged me to be bold and allowed me to grow as an activist and leader in my campus community. After starting a CSA and working with the EPA and local non-profits, I knew I wanted to work within my community to achieve better social, environmental and economic sustainability. These experiences led me to pursue my B.S. at Rutgers where I co-created my concentration with an advisor, and really solidified my continued pursuit of academia, my passion to help others and my desire to protect the environment.
What made you decide to attend the MPP program at Del Val?
I have admittedly, had a bit of a break from when I received my B.S., but my goal was always to continue to graduate school. My experiences at my community college made me certain I wanted to be a professor; however, I had the exciting opportunity to co-open a restaurant and then another food service establishment on my own, so I took a break after undergraduate school and put all of my energy in these endeavors for a few years!
Has your career path inspired you to pursue further education? Or are you currently working in your desired field?
My life circumstances have required me to work from a fairly early age, which has given me the benefit of experiencing so many different environments and professions to possibly work in! Primarily, I have spent much of my adult life somewhere in the intersection of food makers, food sellers, food growers and educators; so I have always had an appreciation for food and a reverence for the people and soil that grow it.
My most recent work experiences include opening that locally sourced, healthy café and bakery, and then once relocating to Bucks County, working as a Teacher Naturalist for the Bucks County Audubon Society. I have also taught students of all ages to play music and sing, so serving and teaching has been a constant drive and influence for me. I have just recently gotten to place where I was ready and able to connect back to my earlier goals of higher education and obtaining my graduate degree.
What do you plan to do after DelVal and/or what would be your ideal job?
Truthfully, I would love to teach at DelVal! But I also plan to further research food policy, and environmental and agricultural issues to obtain my PhD. I would love to ultimately teach and consult for farmers and small businesses in the food and ag industry in our area.
Best part of graduate school so far:
The best part of grad school is working and learning with my cohorts. We all just instantly connected and bring so many amazing life experiences into our cohort community. I have found strength from these folks and friendships that I know will last a very a long time.
I am also so grateful for my position as graduate assistant for the public policy department. I get to support my fellow students by making these deeper connections with our incredible faculty and staff, and work towards building this sense of community that I know we all thrive to be more connected to.
What are some of your hobbies/what do you like to do for fun outside of school?
I am a mom to a very special, almost 5-year-old boy… so the time I can spend on hobbies is minimal! Although when I can, I love to cook, bake, grow food, nurture houseplants, play music and read.
Favorite vegetable to eat or grow!
There is a specific heirloom tomato cultivar called brandywine that my family has grown for generations, so the connection to that particular plant makes it so special to me. But growing speckled trout lettuce also changed my life; so it would have to be a tie between these two!