When Memphis Bancroft made the decision to pursue a food science and nutrition degree at the University of Missouri she didn’t realize the real-world application of what she was studying would be so immediate.
When Bancroft chose the degree program her mother was on a very restrictive diet due to a colon cancer diagnosis.
“With the effects of surgery we had to find food that fit the bill and wouldn’t cause more issues,” Bancroft said. “Her diet was really tough – she really couldn’t have much fiber, protein or dairy. I was taking what I was learning in the classroom and applying it to real-life, everyday situations, which is something most students don’t get until they’re out of school. It made me realize I had definitely fallen into the right degree.”
Bancroft, who grew up in Columbia, Mo., and attended Hickman High School, only applied to one university – Mizzou. She made stops in two different degree programs before finding food science and nutrition in the MU College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources (CAFNR).
“I honestly didn’t even know MU offered a degree in food science, but I’m so glad that I was able to find it,” Bancroft said. “I’ve fallen in love with the program. I’ve built great relationships with the faculty and staff, who have been incredibly easy to work with. I’m really happy with my decision.”
Bancroft is in the accelerated master’s program within the food science and nutrition degree program, which allows students to complete both a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree in just five years. Bancroft is a senior, which means she is close to finishing her undergraduate degree while getting a jumpstart on her master’s degree.
“The accelerated program has been super nice,” Bancroft said. “I’m someone who is paying for college myself, so being able to complete both degrees in a short timeframe is very cost effective. My mom went back and got a degree 10 years after getting her undergraduate degree, too, and encouraged me to knock everything out at once if I could. It’s been a rewarding experience.”
Bancroft said the hands-on learning opportunities have been one of the best parts of the degree, plus learning about the vast number of career options. Currently, Bancroft is working in the laboratory of Bongkosh Vardhanabhuti, an associate professor of food science.
“My primary focus in the lab is producing soy products,” Bancroft said. “It’s been really interesting seeing the research that is happening and to be able to participate in my own projects as well.”
While there are plenty of lab opportunities for food science and nutrition students, the day-to-day classwork also provides plenty of chances for students to gain hands-on experience. Bancroft recently developed a barbeque sauce in her capstone course, Food Product Development (F_S 4970).
“This class allowed us to do so much, including creating a market plan, studying consumer behavior and actually developing our own sauce,” Bancroft said. “It was really interesting – and is a good example of the type of opportunities that we have in this degree program.
“Our classes also showcase all of the career avenues we can pursue. You really can do anything with a food science and nutrition degree. I’ve looked at business, research, sales and food development, plus many others. The possibilities are limitless.”
Bancroft said she is still looking at those career options as she finishes her degrees. Right now, she’s enjoying having conversations with her mother about all things food. After more than 20 years as an English teacher at Hickman, Bancroft’s mother is now teaching cooking classes.
“We have some really fun conversations and get to learn quite a bit from each other,” Bancroft said. “While we’re doing different things, there is definitely an understanding there of what we’re both doing. It’s really great that we’re both in the same field and get to share those experiences.”