Spring 2024 grad: Bea Sutton finds her passion in food science

Bea Sutton, who grew up in Ashland, Wisconsin, is graduating this spring with a bachelor’s in food science and a certificate in global health. In this Q&A, she talks about finding the food science major, the value of participating in clubs, and the satisfaction of working at campus’ Carson’s Market. Her future plans include interning at a California winery, then going to grad school.

Why did you choose your major – and what did you learn, in a nutshell?
I originally applied as a mathematics major because it was something I always enjoyed and saw a diverse range of opportunities with post-graduation. After a month or two I realized it didn’t spark passion in the way that I thought it would and began exploring other programs. I’d always had a passion for food and considered culinary school, which led me to find the food science program. I emailed Richard Hartel who answered me within ten minutes and had me on a zoom call to convince me I belonged. I’m glad he did, because food science was definitely right for me. I learned all about food from a micro and macro point of view and went through every step of food production. 

What activities were you involved in during college?
Throughout my studies at UW-Madison I kept a job with Dining and Culinary Services and made my way up the food chain to head student supervisor at Carson’s Market and won the ROSE award. 

For the first few years I was involved in ASM sustainability which I totally recommend for all majors. Later my time was consumed with involvement in the food science club and IFT student competitions. I was on the club exec board as product development chair and later social events chair. I participated in the IFTSA Smart Snacks for Kids Product Development competition and made it to nationals as well as IFTSA College Bowl trivia. My team won second last year at nationals and are aiming for first this year!

I had two internships over my time in food science. The summer of my sophomore year I did research and development for Treehouse foods in Omaha, NE. This was one of the best experiences of my life and I highly recommend trying a new place for a summer internship. The summer of my junior year I worked with the quality assurance team at Agropur dairy in Le Sueur, MN. This gave me the chance to see another side of the industry and explore my passions for post-graduation. 

What are your future academic and/or career plans – short-term and long-term?
I will be spending July through December with E & J Gallo on a vineyard and research winery in Healdsburg California with the winemaking team. After this I’ll be joining my partner in Ithaca, NY where he is attending Cornell and I’ll hopefully get into a program for a graduate degree in either food science or plant sciences. I always introduce myself as a future world changer and I plan to stick with that 😉. 

What were the most meaningful college experiences you had?
Getting to know my fellow food science students was the best. I can’t imagine a better group of students to have suffered through finals week with every semester. I will keep them close to my heart for the rest of my life and can’t wait for our reunion!

I think something that I will never forget is the smaller events that made each week enjoyable. Some of my favorites were Wisconsin Late Night events in the dorms and the giant pumpkin regatta with the horticulture department. 

When you think about your time here as student, what are you proud of?
I am proud of what I did in my job at Dining. I think I changed Carson’s Market for the better and I’ll never forget every student I worked with. I’m sad to leave, but I’m confident that the students taking over for me will keep improving the unit and we will become the place everyone wants to eat. 

Do you have any advice you’d like to share with CALS students? 
Get involved in clubs and get to know those in your major! I regret not reaching out to them before junior year, I could have used them in my intro level classes. Clubs look great on a resume and give you the chance to experience things you wouldn’t be able to otherwise. It’s always best to know someone in your classes to chat with and study together!