When she was in eighth grade, Chloe Bilyk toured the University of Missouri with her family, as her older sister was in the process of making her college decision. Her family agreed that Mizzou may not be for her sister – but it was the perfect fit for Bilyk.
While it would be a few years before Bilyk would make the decision on where to continue her education, she eventually agreed that MU was the best place for her.
“Even though I was only in the eighth grade, my family thought it would benefit me to tag along as my sister was visiting colleges,” Bilyk said. “The second we stepped on the MU campus, my family said, ‘This school is definitely for Chloe.’ As I began the process of making my own college decision, nothing compared to Mizzou. I had a ‘home’ feeling whenever I was on this campus.”
Bilyk, who is from Chicago, was originally interested in the dietetics program at MU when she began as a freshman. After a discussion with a Mizzou alum who received a degree in food science and nutrition, Bilyk realized that degree may be the one that would fit her interests best.
“I realized that I’m most interested in the science behind food, how food breaks down and the reactions that take place,” Bilyk said. “I realized the food science and nutrition degree program would allow me to really dive into those interest areas. At the end of the day, we all eat, so this type of work is incredibly important as it affects everyone.”
Bilyk said she has always been interested in science, and, as an athlete growing up, was fascinated by how the food she ate affected her athletic performance, which originally led her to the dietetics program.
“When I was younger, I quickly learned that when I was eating better food, I was performing better athletically,” Bilyk said. “This led me to develop an interest in the role food plays in athletic performance. It really just sparked an interest in how food works in general, too.”
Bilyk said her hands-on coursework within the food science and nutrition degree program allowed her to explore her interests in food even more. Opportunities to work with Buck’s Ice Cream gave her extra hands-on learning experiences.
“Learning about topics in class and then seeing what it looks in real-time was a great way to grasp those concepts,” Bilyk said. “For example, we would learn about sandy defects in ice cream. It was amazing to be able to see what that actually looks like in a real-world setting.
“What I enjoyed about most about working at Buck’s, though, was my interactions with customers. I enjoyed answering their questions and explaining more about the flavors we offer. The experience was amazing.”
Bilyk was involved in a handful of clubs and organizations while at Mizzou and spent time as a CAFNR Ambassador as well.
“It’s was really fun to see the recruitment side of CAFNR,” Bilyk said. “I loved seeing the students have that same reaction I had when I was touring campus. Having the opportunity to share why I love CAFNR and why I love MU was so rewarding.”
Bilyk has continued to help with recruiting students this year, with a specific focus on her degree program. She is working with Amy Marek, a senior academic advisor for the Division of Food, Nutrition and Exercise Sciences, to create a social media plan highlighting everything the food science and nutrition degree has to offer.
“It’s really exciting to have the opportunity to showcase how this degree has changed my life,” Bilyk said. “We’ve created Facebook and Instagram pages for the degree and are featuring a variety of content, such as alumni profiles and behind-the-scenes video. We’re still getting the ball rolling, but it’s going to be a great opportunity for the program to promote all of the cool things that are happening.”
Bilyk will graduate with her bachelor’s degree in food science and nutrition in May and has one year left to finish her food and hospitality systems master’s degree through an accelerated program offered at MU. Her research is related to proteins in ice cream, and Bilyk is working with Bongkosh Vardhanabhuti, an associate professor of food science.
“The accelerated program is such an amazing opportunity, and I’m very fortunate to be part of it,” Bilyk said. “It’s also great to continue to work with ice cream. It’s just so much fun. I get to study ice cream, my job is with ice cream, I’ve done labs related to ice cream – I definitely can’t complain.”
Bilyk said she also has a strong interest in fermentation and is interested in a career related to wine.
“Fermenting wine is the perfect mix of art and science, which is something that sounds really interesting,” Bilyk said. “I would really like to work outside, taking part in the science within the vineyard. I also like the day-to-day variety that fermenting wine would allow me to have.”