As a senior in high school, Jordan Duenckel knew that he was going to continue his education at the University of Missouri – what he didn’t know was what he was going to study. As Duenckel searched through the MU course catalog, an interesting entry caught his eye.
“As I was flipping through, I noticed food science and nutrition,” Duenckel said. “I love to eat, so studying food seemed fun. Science was my best subject in high school, so when I saw something that combined the two, I thought I would give it a go.”
To go along with his food science and nutrition degree, Duenckel, who is from Jefferson City, also decided to pursue a degree in finance. While it has been plenty of work during the past four years, Duenckel said the double major combination has been really enjoyable.
“I think I’m going to walk out of here with more than 160 hours, so it’s definitely been a lot of hard work,” Duenckel said. “At the end of the day, time management has been key for me. I’ve been very fortunate to have great undergraduate advisors as well. Amy Marek (student support specialist in food science) has been incredibly helpful in making sure that I have had everything lined up.”
Along with a robust course schedule, Duenckel was very active as a Mizzou student. He was a member of the Food Science Association (FSA), spent time with the Independent Aggies and was part of the Missouri Students Association (MSA). Duenckel also worked for the Mizzou Meat Market for two years.
“Being a food science and nutrition student gives me a really unique perspective in the meat lab,” Duenckel said. “I help a lot with the food safety aspects, as well as the regulatory and quality assurance side. I get to do a bit of everything there, which has been a lot of fun.”
Duenckel said part of the reason he chose MU was because of the variety of opportunities. He’s been able to see those opportunities firsthand.
“My typical day includes working with various beef cuts, doing projects in chemistry and microbiology laboratories, and studying financial accounting,” Duenckel said. “I’ve got a full slate most days, and that’s one of the primary reasons that I chose Mizzou. It’s a large university with so many opportunities, and I’ve found that to be incredibly true. I’ve been able to participate in a lot over my time here.”
One of Duenckel’s biggest opportunities came last year, when he was able to complete an internship in California at E. & J. Gallo Winery in Healdsburg, the largest United States winery. Duenckel was able to work through his coursework online while completing his internship. And while he didn’t get to do much sightseeing due to COVID-19, the winery work was already socially distanced, so Duenckel got a complete hands-on experience.
Duenckel worked in grower relations with grape ranchers, did field testing and spent time in the lab. The experience also inspired Duenckel to name he and his fiancée’s dog, Pinot, after his favorite wine.
“This was such an awesome experience,” Duenckel said. “Amy was super helpful, again, as she was able to help me find courses online that were delivered asynchronously so that I didn’t have to pull out my laptop in the middle of my internship. I was there from July to November, and while I didn’t get to do any of the touristy stuff due to COVID, I did gain really important insights that taught me so much.”
Duenckel said he is slated to begin law school at the University of Missouri this fall following graduation. He said he didn’t really have any intentions of pursuing law school when he begin college, but, by his junior year, he thought the possibility could be a reality.
“I would love to eventually work for a food company and do work related to USDA regulations,” Duenckel said. “In discussions with my professors, they said that lawyers for food companies don’t always have the technical background or the deep knowledge of food science. Someone who has the base knowledge to go with the law training can provide a huge benefit. That’s what I’m looking at, and I’m really excited about.”
Duenckel said he’s appreciative of his time at MU, and the opportunities that CAFNR provided him.
“CAFNR really gave me a broad base of experiences, some of which aren’t really academic related,” Duenckel said. “CAFNR really helped with networking and the basics of how to get your point across in a clear and concise way, which is a critical skill. I’m so thankful for my experiences.”