Kiana Gomez, who grew up in Chicago, Illinois, will be graduating with a bachelor’s degree in food science in spring 2022. In this Q&A, Gomez talks about facing challenges in college, her efforts to encourage other first generation Latina STEM majors, and her future academic and career plans.
Q: Where did you grow up?
A: I grew up in Chicago, Illinois.
Q: How did you decide on your program? Why did you choose it?
A: I attended the Chicago High School for Agricultural Sciences where food science was one of the options in our agricultural-based curriculum. I loved how our teacher explained food chemistry and related it to real-world applications.
Q: What were the most meaningful college experiences you had?
A: My most valuable college experiences were taking challenging courses like organic chemistry and learning from my mistakes. Those were the moments where I built courage and truly learned how strong I am.
Q: When you think about your time here as student, what are you proud of?
A: I am most proud of paving the way for first generation Latinas like myself. It can be difficult to endure challenges in academic spaces with lots of folks with different backgrounds. I am proud of my ability to encourage my community to continue this path based on my experiences in STEM at UW–Madison.
Q: What are your future academic / career plans?
A: In my near future, I anticipate working in research and development for a food and beverage company, crafting creative solutions to help feed the growing population. Specifically, I’d like to focus on sustainable products while still maintaining quality. After that, I plan on obtaining my master’s degree in food science.
Q: Do you have any advice you’d like to share with CALS students?
A: Never be scared to ask for help! Asking for help, academically, emotionally, etc., is the strongest thing you can do. There are great resources on and off campus that cater to student’s specific needs. Take advantage of these resources! Talking to your advisor is a great way to start.