Alumna aims to contribute to the advancement of the food industry with online graduate degree

Mary Kawleski graduated in spring 2021 with a degree from the Online Masters of Food Technology program offered through the University of Georgia’s Department of Food Science and Technology in the College of Agricultural & Environmental Sciences

Mary Kawleski; Master of Food TechnologyKawleski earned her bachelor's degree from the University of Wisconsin Stevens Point in Biology while maintaining internships in potato breeding with Frito Lay and UW-Madison. After her graduation from Stevens Point, she went on to work as an agronomist in central Wisconsin, then later she switched to quality assurance within food manufacturing. For the past four years, she has worked in product development in the cheese industry. 

Completing a graduate or doctorate degree has been a personal goal for Kawleski; however, after completing her undergraduate degree, she did not want to take time away from her career. This is one of the main reasons she chose to enroll in an online program at UGA. Kawleski chose the online Master of Food Technology because she was enamored by what she read about the program, and was able to start her classes the next semester. 

When asked what she found the most interesting about this program, Kawleski described how “hearing the professors' personal anecdotes and experiences with various companies or food products put learning about these items in a different, more personal light.”

Kawleski encourages other students who are taking online classes to hold themselves responsible for all of their classwork because it can be very easy to fall behind. 

Kawlesi described how the online courses she took provided a 1-2 week window of flexibility. “That can be very helpful for those with irregular schedule[s].  But if you take a day or two off from school work to focus on other priorities, you need to keep yourself honest and commit to making up for lost time or you risk falling behind, which is just a disservice to yourself.” said Kawleski.

An immediate benefit that Kawleski has gotten from her degree is the ability to communicate with others in the industry more effectively. She now is able to better understand the backgrounds of the people she is communicating with, as well as the topics they are communicating about. She believes that this program helped with filling in educational gaps that would not have been addressed by just working in the food industry.  

Receiving her online Master of Food Technology through UGA has helped build Kawleski’s foundation in her knowledge and food industry endeavors. “This program has helped fill in educational gaps that just working in the food industry would not address,” said Kawleski.

Kawleski doesn't know if her future career remains in the product development sector of the food technology industry, or if she will pivot back to quality assurance. “There may even be a possibility that I take on a more environmental sustainability role,” said Kawleski. Wherever her future may lead her, she hopes that she will continue to work and contribute to the advancement of the food industry.