You Search, We Search, We All Need Research!

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It’s 12:30 a.m., and as I sleepily contemplate graduating a month from now I realize that I was a part of something special while in college and it was called research. That’s it, that good ol’ dreaded word that we hate to hear most of the time; research. Now I’m not talking about the kind of research that we slaved away at during most of our dietetic courses, no that would be too easy to discuss. I’m actually talking about research projects that faculty advisors and I designed, researched, and presented to the academic world. Now why the heck would a busy guy like me do such a thing? After all you have to deal with IRB protocol, proposal writing, funding (those checks take forever to clear), finding participants, and a whole slew of other shenanigans that no one in their right mind would purposefully endure. Well I did it, and out of all my accomplishments in college, there’s a lot mind you, completing two full research studies from beginning to end was one of my greatest achievements. It was a joy to learn new ways of writing, planning, advertising, and processing lab work into statistical data that could be used for enhancing the community. Working on an independent research project allowed me to attend unique conferences and compete against other like-minded research based students. Student research conferences allowed me to see what and how others projects developed. I was able to make new connections and partnerships for futures experiments at such events, and even made some long term friends. Researching allowed me to take a glimpse into a world where anything is possible if you question it and put it to the test. In fact, for the research projects that I did I was paid by scholarship for completing them, which was a nice little bonus. Yes, doing an independent research project is tedious, and downright excruciating, but the rewards and connections you make from it last a lifetime. If you’re a student in your freshman, sophomore, or junior year why not expand your horizon, pad your resume, and do something out of the ordinary. Try out a research project and learn something new.

Balance Your Worth

A few weeks ago a few different notices went out to Cal Poly Pomona’s’ Health Nutrition and Food Science student body about potential job postings and internships. It was a bombardment of information, and it sort of felt like when your best friend tries to convince you that the bootleg copy of Hunger Games is as good as the blue ray ultra HD version and they won’t stop talking about it. Well, this sort of mindset may be what is holding back some peers to obtaining careers that are intellectually and monetarily worthwhile. Think of it this way; in our field over 80% of promotions, or hiring to upper levels, happens from within. Now in retail and sales the opposite may be true, but we are neither. Therefore, it seems to me that the age old adage of getting your “foot in the door” may apply more so to our field than most. Now as a student, father, husband, full time worker, and social volunteer I understand how hard it is to achieve high academic standards while still taking care of life’s responsibilities. I too feel as most students do; that the first stop in my career should be worthwhile and monetarily compensating for the amount of knowledge and experience I bring. However, most times we over look great opportunities by focusing on the hourly wage or salary. We feel that if the number is to low, it is beneath us, or not equal to what we feel we deserve. At this point we should take a step back and realize that nothing in life is given and we must earn everything whether we “feel” we deserve it or not. As students we should look at the big picture and all the potential that an opportunity can bring. Many doors that we never knew where available can be opened by humbling our scholarly egos, and planning for our futures. Here are some things to think about, instead of focusing on overall salary of hourly wage.

  1. Health- Staying healthy is not cheap and parents can’t support us all. Certain job openings have above average pay (14.00-19.00hr or 48,000-52,000) with full health, dental, vision, sick pay. Even though the pay may seem low at first, consider the benefits of having full medical coverage. This should be a priority when considering jobs, especially if you are married, have children, or both.
  2. Retirement/401k/ect., ect.- If a potential job opening offers 401k benefits along with retirement benefits, then it should be considered. As the Baby Boomer population ages, there will be a flux in the way retirement is paid and honored. It’s best to stay ahead of the game, unless you want to work until your 80.
  3. Paid Vacations/Holidays/Sick Days/Flex Days- Many jobs opening have paid days off. What’s better that not working and getting paid for it (isn’t that called being a Senator…Jk…Jk). But seriously, this really helps out when you need a day for yourself or for other non-work related activities. It gives you peace of mind that you can “afford” to take the day off. So this is definitely something to be considered even if salary if below our expectations.
  4. Union position vs. Non Union- Simply put there are benefits to both. If you are looking at openings within school, state, city, county, or prison/jail systems then there is a possibility that you may be part of a union. This can be a huge factor in benefits and pay so do your research. It may benefit to take a pay cut in entry level positions if the benefits will provide stability and job security. Once again, unions can be good, bad, or just ok so do your research.
  5. Happiness- If the job seems awesome and interesting, and you won’t be bored then do it. There are always opportunities to grow, if you make an effort to make them happen. So be happy and even if it’s less pay you won’t regret taking a job that you love.

Now don’t get me wrong, pay rate is a big deal and is important when considering a job. Money makes the world go round, and I’m all about people getting their cake and eating it too. However, we as students need to focus on long-term responsibilities and endeavors, and consider other important factors that can benefit us in a job position. Till next time, stay classy!

The Doctor is in

Today, more than ever, students are always trying to find a way to meet new connections and find new opportunites. Well I am here to tell you, Dr. Steve Alas is one connection you need, and the opportunites he provides can open doors never before known to students.

Dr. Alas is an associate professor and director of the SEES program. He has been teaching molecular biology at Cal Poly for almost 10 years now. Dr. Alas is a former research fellow for City of Hope cancer center and postdoctoral fellow at UCLA. He received his PhD in cancer research from UCLA, and his Bachelor’s of Science in biological science at Cal Poly Pomona. As director of the SEES program Dr. Alas oversees advising, mentoring, academic excellence workshops, science courses, research funding, research opportunities and computer facilities for under-represented minority students and first-generation college students majoring in the sciences. He is also the coordinator for the CSU-LSAMP program at Cal Poly Pomona, which is focused on broadening student involvement in the STEM core courses. Dr. Alas is also director of the SEES Health Professionals Project, funded by The California Wellness Foundation. The program focuses on under-represented juniors and seniors that will enter the health professions. As director of the Hearst SEES Apprentice Program, Dr. Alas is able to provide research opportunities to undergraduates entering the STEM fields. Students are funded to perform research with faculty at Cal Poly Pomona, Western University of Health Sciences, City of Hope National Medical Center and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL).

Dr. Alas continues to work with outside sources to fund grant and scholarship programs, like the ones stated above. His expertise in research, teaching, and mentoring have allowed Dr. Alas to build a vast network of industry connections that can provide opportunites to students to gain valuable experience. Most of the programs tha Dr. Alas oversees are well funding and provide paid experience opportunities to students to do research of their choice. These programs help expose students to industry leaders and allows the students to display their skills, innovative ideas, and inventions, which many times lead to career job offers. Dr. Alas continues to put students first and is a great resource for grant and scholarship funding.

Why not set up an appointment with Dr. Steve Alas and see how he can open new doors for you. It’s never to late to make that connection.

Communicate, Converse, and Connect

“Put your money where you mouth is”. We have all heard this term used in different context many times before. But how does it apply to us as college students studying Dietetics, Nutrition Science, and Food Science ?

Communication is the key to success, and with emerging technology it is becoming a lost art. Some of the biggest advances in science, technology, and business have been brought about by professionally executed communication and connections between people. So why do we care? We care because professional communication and connections can land us that career we have been dreaming about since Chem 122 was finally over. We care because communication can open doors that didn’t have key holes. We care because our student loan agency loves to communicate with us, constantly reminding us how much we owe. Wouldn’t it be great to give a response!

As we start a new school year, we should take a moment to reflect on our long term goals.  We would all like to have that ideal career, with a great team, great benefits, good pay, and great work environment. We would love to see our knowledge and hard work compensated by a career that gives some zero’s at the end of our checks. We as students are at a unique advantage to use our positions to learn, achieve greatness, and earn a great career in food and nutrition. We will not achieve this without opening our mouths, expressing our concerns, ideas, needs, and wants.

money were mouth is

As students we at times get so involved in studying, writing reports, researching, and participating in school events, that we sometimes forget that  building a network of professionals can help us achieve goals. Yes, many of our classmates are truly gifted, and make great friends, while others are fun to chat with on social media. However, we have in  our reach a network of professionals who have long left the arena of student body and are now the experts in the fields we are striving to attain careers in. Can you guess who they are?

Our department has an eclectic mix of professors who have done everything under the sun and then some pertaining to food and nutrition. They have over a century of combined experience in all fields of food and nutrition. Some have traveled oversees for projects, while others have invented products, and yet others have done world renowned research. Some of our faculty has helped write text to bring fresh scientific fact to our textbooks. Can you name all the professors in our department? Do you know the names of the lecturers who so kindly help to teach courses in our department? Why not?! Our faculty is an abundant well of knowledge waiting to be tapped. They can help inform us on alternate careers that we may not have known about. They can mentor us, provide encouragement, and provide constructive criticism that will help mold us into the ideal professional. Our faculty may be busy, understaffed, overworked, and under appreciated at times, yet they never give up on reaching out to us as a student body. Lets return the favor and reach out to our faculty to help build our professional network of success. Say hello, make an appointment, do research with a professor, communicate, converse and connect. Yes, we are in a drought in California, but our departments faculty is a well of knowledge that is never dry. Drink up, the water is good here.

 

I Want to Make an FN Friend!

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Yeah, yeah I know my play on the department club abbreviation is lame, but hey, it’s FN funny, okay? (Yes, I will wear out this pun by the end of this post). By the way, just in case you didn’t know, FN stands for Food and Nutrition Forum which is the premier club on campus. Now I may be partial, but Food and Nutrition Forum is the best club out there– hands down. This year is a change over year with many new faces and many old; including mine (yeah, I know what you were thinking….31 is old).

What does this mean? Well, it means… well, more friends, new relationships, and new connections. Dr. Martin F. Sancho-Madriz and Dr. Bonny Burns Whitmore are our advisers and they FN rock. With so much to do as a student, it helps to have a resources  available outside of class that help with FN everything.  This year our timely club meetings will really bring to the forefront subjects and information that will be pertinent to all students in our department, not just a few FN cliques. At club meetings we will be hearing from current professors in our department and other professionals, with information that could lead to that dream job we FN dream about constantly. So you need to be there to network with these great connections. Don’t FN miss out!

With a student body in our department at it’s highest peak, there is no shortage of new study buddies, volunteer friends, and intern connections. Branch out and meet someone new. You never know where it may lead you. As princess Jasmine would say, “its a whole new FN world”, or Ariel, “I want to go were the FN people are”. . . anyways you get my point. Now get out there and find an FN friend or two!

Dr. Bonny Burns-Whitmore

What what college(s) did you graduate?
L.A. Valley College (Van Nuys, CA)-AS
La Sierra University (Riverside)-BS
Loma Linda University-MPH and DrPH

How long have you been teaching at Cal Poly Pomona?
Seventeen years here at CPP, I am beginning my 18th year.

Who is your mentor, either past or present, and why?
My Grandma, Astrid. She was a kind, smart (never went to High School but spoke and wrote 7 languages fluently) and humorous lady who worked as a housekeeper, wet nurse and nanny well into her 70’s. She was also the one that encouraged me to get an education and fostered my love of foods and cooking.

What is your favorite food?
Home cooked lasagna (veggie of course)

How can students impress you? Or rather, what makes a good student?
A good student strives to understand and integrate the topics, not simply memorize them. School work is submitted on time, and he/she takes responsibility for not meeting established deadlines, and does their own work. They take advantage of extra credit opportunities, are self-motivated, attends all classes, are attentive and participate in class, meet with the instructor if they are having problems in class, and ask the teacher and not their peers for clarification of if they do not understand assignment directions or the class topic. The good student has a positive attitude and willingness to learn new subjects/paradigms, even if the student isn’t, or doesn’t know if he/she is interested in the subject, and is academically resilient…in other words, he/she wants to learn and grow from learning something new and tries very hard to succeed.

What do you think is the most important part of succeeding at Cal Poly (meaning to graduate, get an internship, land a job, etc.)?
Forming a peer network of more than 3 people (someone in this group might be your future employer or tell you about  job openings), volunteering, as well as getting involved in leadership activities. Additionally, asking for help or career guidance from faculty it is important. :)

Best place to eat on/near campus?
Subway :)

Additional comments:
When I am not at CPP, I enjoy hiking, camping, mountain biking, bocce, softball, and cooking.