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Changing Agriculture - My Life Goal

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My first love was food—a love I hold in common with all the women in my family. When my mom started a catering company, I discovered that not only was I obsessed with the preparation and transformation of ingredients, I was freakishly good at it. I have a “perfect palate”—sort of like perfect pitch for musicians but with taste—meaning that I have a heightened sense of flavor quality that can detect more flavors than the average person.

In the 7th grade, I began to delve deeper into the world of food through molecular gastronomy, a field that incorporates both my love of science and cooking to transform food into new forms through chemistry. Deep down, my true nature is as a problem-solver; I have always viewed science as a sort of puzzle. I used emulsifiers to make “lemon air” to top my cookies and obsessively stalked food journals to hear about the newest technologies from the world's top restaurants.

At this time I had already discovered my love of agriculture and the outdoors and knew that the study of molecular gastronomy would confine me to a life away from the fields I loved. Since age 15, I’ve spent my summers hunched over vegetables under the scorching Colorado sun at a small organic farm called Ollin Farms, and I have loved nothing more. At Ollin, I work under the guidance of the farm manager, and as we sweat side by side transplanting celery or harvesting a thousand peppers, he shares precious grains of information, and I share his labor with him in exchange.

Building upon the love I found at Ollin Farms, I attended Chewonki, which completely changed my view on agriculture and food systems and made me see how I could use the subject to solve major world issues. Immediately after returning I started the Glean for Good Foundation, which recovers food waste from healthy organic sources and cooks and distributes it into meals for the food insecure in my community. One day, as I was doing my usual rounds collecting food that would otherwise go to waste from the Boulder Farmer’s Market, I struck up conversation with a Russian baker who was giving me his excess from the day. He chuckled uncomfortably as he thanked me for my efforts and revealed that in Russia, he had once been on the receiving end of one of these donations when times were worse. At the age of 17 with tears in my eyes, I finally knew with the utmost confidence that I wanted to study agriculture, and I wanted to use food to change the world.

I’m a chef, a problem-solver, a lover of science, a farmer, and someone who simply wants to help others, and I want to major in Agricultural Sciences at Cornell. I believe our rapidly growing population needs to be met with intuitive food solutions, and the CALS students and professors are on the forefront of these discoveries of which I wish to be a part of. Taking a class taught by Susan Brown and other top minds in the food science world has been a dream of mine since I read about Professor Brown's “Non-Browning Apple” in one of the food journals I read religiously, and discovered quickly after reaching out that, no, Cornell’s professors did not take in 13-year old research assistants (true story). Additionally, the potential for hands-on experience at one of Cornell’s many incredible farms such as Dilmun Hill Student Farm would be an absolute fantasy. A CALS education would also help me reach my academic goals through its flexibility between majors, allowing me to take classes in all of my interests from food science to agriculture. Studying at CALS wouldn't just help me reach my academic goals, but I firmly believe CALS would prepare me for my life goal of changing agriculture and the food system to better humanity.

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