Master of Arts in Food Studies (MAFS) Student Profiles
Becky Baker, MAFS '13
Chatham has opened my mind up to numerous areas of work involved in the food system. I came into the program with the mindset of a nutritionist, with science and data. I have learned in my first semester that there are so many other factors that not only make up a healthy diet, but also a healthy food system.
What I love about Chatham is the diversity of interests and experiences that every student brings to the classroom. We learn so much from each other. I came to Chatham because I wanted a way to connect nutritional sciences and sustainable agriculture and learn how these two can work together to change the way we eat. It was rare in my undergraduate classes to ever discuss growing food and where we get our food - it was always just about vitamins and minerals. The connection between nutrition was just not clear enough at such a large school and between so many departments and colleges. The master of food studies program will hopefully allow me to expand my knowledge of nutrition and agriculture in way to lead to a fulfilling career.
I grew up in State College, Pennsylvania, right in the middle of the state, surrounded by farmlands and Penn State University. I went to Penn State, along with everyone in my family and almost all my friends, and moving to Pittsburgh this past August became the first time I’ve live anywhere outside the borough of State College. Outside of school, I love to bake and experiment with cooking. I also love to dance and teach dance. I wanted to be a Rockette when I was younger but then found out I’m too short. So I guess I can settle for changing the food system.
Amber Barmore, MAFS '13I selected Food Studies because it combines many of my diverse interests into one field of study. Several of these interests are sustainable agriculture, community food production, and sustainability. I graduated from SUNY Brockport in 2010 with a double major in English: Creative Writing and Anthropology and a double minor in Environmental Science and Environmental Studies. While at Brockport I studied abroad in Australia and was later a teaching assistant for the trip which focused on sustainability and the relationships that people have with their environments. I was also a Green Intern for Brockport and assisted the college in environmental awareness. I grew up on a dairy farm and enjoy caring for animals, gardening, and being outside.
Jeralyn Beach, MAFS '12Chatham's Food Studies program provides hands on experience growing food, while providing an in depth background of a complicated food system. I chose the MA Food Studies program at Chatham for several reasons. I was initially attracted to a food studies program, because of my background in the food industry and a desire to learn how to make changes in the food system. Chatham's Eden Hall farm campus attracted me to this particular program, because I wanted to gain more hands on experience growing food sustainably. I grew up in southern Indiana and went to college to study Hospitality and Food Management in east central Indiana at Ball State University. Upon graduation, I decided I wanted more experience in the culinary arts, so I moved to Providence, RI for a year to attend Johnson & Wales University for a one-year culinary program. While at JWU, I had the opportunity to work with some amazing chefs at the Rhode Island School of Design. My next move landed me in Brooklyn, NY, to work as a school food service manager for the NYC Dept. of Education for the next three years. My experience in NYC opened my eyes to the possibilities of urban agriculture and alternative food systems through co-ops, CSAs, and farmers markets. I also learned first hand about the many obstacles we face in changing our food system by working for the federal school lunch program. Next came a move to Pittsburgh, PA to pursue a master's degree in Food Studies.
Kaitlyn Best, MAFS '13My time in the Food Studies program has simultaneously been the easiest and most difficult semester I've encountered in my academic career. It's challenged my preconceived notions about the food system and seriously altered my beliefs. It's also been so easy to engage in the course material because it's something I'm so passionate about and find fascinating! After a cross-cultural experience in Mukono, Uganda, I was appalled at the amount of poverty and hunger existant in the world, especially in light of my own affluence and wealth as an American citizen. I was determined to change the food system to remedy this obvious disparity. I selected the Food Studies program because I hoped it would provide me with the tools necessary to ensure that in a world of plenty, no one goes hungry. I entered the Food Studies program, convinced that industrialized farms were the enemy and local/organic farms were the avenue to creating a more just food system. I haven't completely abdicated those beliefs, but I have learned that there is no black and white in the world of food. There are a plethora of obstacles we will encounter in our fight to achieve a just and equal food system, but the program is giving me the tools to 'fight the good fight.'I originally hail from a small, rural town in Upstate New York. I attended Eastern University in St. Davids, PA and studied at Uganda Christian University in the spring of 2009. I earned my BA in Political Science with a minor in Psychology in May 2010. After graduation, I moved to the economically-devastated town of Wilmington, Ohio to serve as an AmeriCorps* VISTA with the Grow Food, Grow Hope Community Garden Inititative where I served as the Backyard Garden Project coordinator. Upon my acceptance into the Food Studies program, I picked up and moved to Pittsburgh in August 2011!
Arielle Burlett, MAFS '12My academic experience at Chatham University has been filled with new opportunities and challenging curriculum that has really expanded my knowledge of the food system. I especially love being a student in a new Master's program! I have really enjoyed the friendships that have been forged this past semester with my the other students in the program. As a small school, Chatham University offers many opportunities to interact one-on-one with faculty and staff. I was interested in applying to a Food Studies program and was really drawn to Chatham University's program because of interdisciplinary approach and also the opportunity to take classes at Eden Hall Farm Campus. I have a B.A. in Public Communications and a minor in Environmental Science from American University. My professional experience includes internships at the Smithsonian's National Zoo and Voice of America in Washington, D.C. I also worked as a Communications Assistant for Academic Leadership Services in Pittsburgh, PA from 2008 to 2010. After spending time in West Africa and South America, I developed an interest in food security issues and the agricultural impact on environmental degradation. I look forward to applying the knowledge that I gain from the Food Studies program to food security issues here in Pittsburgh and beyond.
Kristen Casper, MAFS '12I grew up in the big city of little Wash, PA. After a year at East Carolina University in Greenville, NC, I decided that the University of Pittsburgh was a better fit, and Pittsburgh became my new home. I graduated with a degree in Media Communications in 2004. I currently work as a server at the fabulous Piccolo Forno in Lawrenceville and volunteer at Blackberry Meadows Farm in Natrona Heights. Food has always been a journey for me. I grew up the pickiest eater on the planet and have evolved into a full-blown foodie! Throughout the years I have come to understand and appreciate how and what I eat on so many levels. From where food comes from to why people make the food choices they do, there is so much to discover through this program. I hope to take the knowledge and experience I gain and use it to enlighten others.
Shelly Danko+Day, MAFS '12Chatham has been a wonderful experience for me. As a returning student, 17 years removed from the college experience, I thought I would feel out of place. I was surprised to see many others in the same situation. I love the challenges that grad school has given me. In the Food Studies curriculum we learn scientific, historic and sociological research and writing. I feel I have grown as a person and a scholar. Over the past 10 years I have become increasingly aware of the problems in our food system. I want to find a way that I can educate and empower people to change this system and thus change the world. I have worked with Grow Pittsburgh to initiate Pittsburgh's first Edible Schoolyards where I helped introduce the food system and growing systems to elementary school students.I also worked at Mildreds' Daughters Urban Farm, the only zoned farmland in the city of Pittsburgh.
Lori Diefenbacher, MAFS '13
The Food Studies program at Chatham allows me to combine my passion for sustainable farm-to-table food issues with a love of learning about global cultures and history.
I cannot remember a time in my life when the central focus of my life was not somehow food related. I have become increasingly aware of my own carbon footprint and how many common consumer practices are not sustainable. This program is the perfect vehicle for me to develop a more sophisticated rhetoric about how to inspire people to think about where their food comes from, and to consider the health and environmental benefits of foods that are grown in healthy soil without synthetic fertilizers and pesticides. I now consider the social aspects of every link in the chain from production to consumption, and have a better understanding of the importance of social responsibility and accountability.
I grew up in a medium-sized Midwest town in Northwest Ohio. In 1999, I completed an Associate Degree in Dietetic Technology.In 2008, I began my studies at the University of Pittsburgh and majored in philosophy with minors in political science and French. I am so proud to tell people about all the ways in which Chatham shows their commitment to sustainability and the environment. Eliminating the sale of plastic water bottles and providing complimentary water stations throughout campus might seem like a small gesture, but it will yield a significant reduction in the detriment of our ecology.
Chelsea Holmes, MAFS '13I decided to attend Chatham's Food Studies graduate program in order to follow my passion--food. My experience at Chatham thus far has been great. I enjoy my classes and it is great to actually be studying something that I love. I selected Food Studies in order to help bring positive changes to the food system. My interests lie in extending the availability and emphasizing the benefits of healthy/local/organic food to all populations, including low-income schools and families who may not have the same access to healthy food options as others. Living abroad in the recent past has not only given me the opportunity to examine the United State's food culture from an outsider’s perspective, but has also provided me with an example of an alternative way to look at the food industry. I chose the Food Studies program in order to learn more about the current food system and how I can help bring about change. I am from Belle Vernon, PA and I attended the University of Pittsburgh for my undergraduate degree. After graduating in Developmental Psychology, I taught at the Cyert Center for Early Childhood Education at Carnegie Mellon University for one year. I then moved to Prague, Czech Republic and taught English for one year. I came back to the U.S. in July, 2011 and began graduate school Chatham University in August.
Bethany Jameson, MAFS '13I love how much everyone in my program likes to share good food all the time. I selected my major because I have a strong desire to learn about the way in which we produce and consume food, and what we can do as individuals and communities to improve the social, economic, and environmental sustainability of our food systems. A little about me: 1987: Bethany Stirling Jameson is born to Jeff and Gayle Jameson in the Oakland neighborhood of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. 1992: Begins cooking with her parents in the kitchen. No turning back. 2005: Graduates from North Hills High School in Pittsburgh, PA and in her desperation to get out of Pittsburgh, moves to Boston, Massachusetts to attend Boston University. 2008: Studies abroad in Dublin, Ireland, and successfully eats, drinks, and dances her way through 8 European countries. 2009: Graduates with a BA in Sociology in the presence of friends, family, Steven Spielberg, and Larry Bird. 2010: Decides that she wants to study food, and moves to Arizona to apply to graduate school in the comfort of her parents' home. 2011: Returns to Pittsburgh (much to her surprise) to begin the Food Studies Program at Chatham University.
Hal B. Klein, MAFS '12Hal B. Klein comes to Chatham via New York, California, and London. He created thismanskitchen.com to encourage people to gain more confidence in the kitchen and eat better at home. He believes that with a bit of encouragement & practice anyone can learn to select & cook amazing food. Before embarking on his Food Studies journey, Hal worked as an actor, appearing on camera in films such as Bottle Shock, Killer Movie, and Nobel Son. He has also played Shakespeare throughout the country. Hal is an avid traveler and a huge San Jose Sharks hockey fan.
Barbara Kleyman, MAFS '12I have a checkered past, in a good way as opposed to nefarious. Graduating college in the 70s (don't bother calculating, I am mature) I wanted to do everything. A degree in nutrition and food science in my pocket I wanted to: be a chef, teach, do research, see the world, own my own business, cater, write, create, be on TV, give away money to charities, be someone's boss, or was that be bossy, work for a Jewish organization, be the next Julia Child (I have the voice but the height eluded me), work with seniors, work with kids, take cooking classes in Italy, France and have a family somewhere in there. I managed to do it all except the Julia part, she was one of a kind. Now I see there is still more. I've always been a bleeding heart liberal, however, through the Masters in Food Studies Program I've discovered I've been a Marxist all this time! "In a communist society, where nobody has one exclusive sphere of activity but each can become accomplished in any branch he wishes, society regulates the general production and thus makes it possible for me to do one thing today and another tomorrow, to hunt in the morning, fish in the afternoon, rear cattle in the evening and criticize after dinner, just as I have a mind, without ever becoming hunter, fisherman, herdsman or critic." Marx, German Ideology (1845) There is so much more I want to do so here I am in this program. What is next? We'll just have to wait and see!
Johanna Klotz, MAFS '12Here at Chatham, I've been encouraged, supported, and challenged. I've greatly enjoyed thinking academically in a new way. I've greatly enjoyed the challenge, the learning process and meeting new, wonderful people. I was interested in people's relationships with their food, whether casual or sometimes tumultuous. I believe in a world where there can be access to safe and healthy foods to eat and safe and healthy processes to produce it. After many years believing that soil and the sun were my enemies, I have embraced both and have come to know how they affect the food we eat. From the flatlands of New England to the Hudson Valley of New York, on to Eastern PA and now, four years in Pittsburgh, I'm excited to see how a region and a community are coming together for food justice and sustainability. I'm proud to be a part of it. I grew up in the Greater Hartford Region of Connecticut, attending both public school and a magnet arts high school where I studied poetry. After high school, I attended Bard College in the Hudson Valley of New York. There, I studied double majored in Creative Writing and Religious Studies with a focus on poetry and Hinduism, respectively. After graduating in 2006, I moved to Philadelphia, PA, and a year later, moved westward to Pittsburgh, PA. I've loved my time here and have appreciated experiencing Pittsburgh in a whole new way while in school. I'm looking forward to expanding that appreciation in the semesters to come!
Anna Malinowski, MAFS '13"The world is shaped by the Way. It cannot be shaped by self. Trying to change it, you damage it; trying to possess it, you lose it." Written in the sixth century by renowned Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu, these words symbolize the essence of nature in its purest state and are more relevant today than ever. After decades of unsustainable agricultural practices, we are now witnessing the detrimental effects these practices have, not only on our environment, but also on human health. Effectively halting and reversing the damage that has been done is not only important to correct the current situation, it is also imperative for securing a positive outcome for the future of food. I aspire to help initiate this transformation by educating the public on advances in research that contribute to food quality, local organic agriculture, and sustainable development practices. I received my undergraduate degree in Earth Sciences/Geology from Kean University located in Union, NJ. As part of my undergraduate career, I carried out a study that analyzed the rate at which urbanization occurred based on landscape change in Union County, NJ from 1930 to 2002 entitled, “Using Landscape Metrics to Analyze the Spatiotemporal Changes of Landscape Patterns in Response to Rapid Urbanization.” During this time, I worked for the New Jersey Geological Survey (NJGS) to identify and characterize offshore sand features as potential sources of sand for beach replenishment and aided in developing the geologic framework of a small portion of the U.S. Intercontinental Shelf. Throughout my studies, I have also volunteered for The Northeast Organic Farming Association of New Jersey (NOFA_NJ) to understand how a non-profit organization works to improve the lives of the public through health and agricultural education and workshops.
Alexandra McInnes, MAFS '13I am thrilled to be in Chatham's Food Studies program! Everyone who I have interacted with so far has been more than supportive and I am truly excited to go to class every time. I have been overwhelmed with the number of lectures and events offered through the program...I wish that I could attend more of them. I selected my major because I knew that I wanted to learn more about that which sustains us all. I love to learn about the differences in people, and food is a big part of that. I am a Pittsburgh native who loves this city. I moved to Delaware for awhile to enjoy being close to the beach, family, and to do some social work, but I was drawn back home. I live with my partner and my two dogs in Regent Square where we spend lots of time in the park. My neighbors have taught my so much about nature and gardening ala Masanobu Fukuoka. I am the assistant box office manager at The Pittsburgh Public Theater full time, where I have worked off and on for over nine years. It is a wonderful organization that I am happy to be a part of. I love learning about food and sharing all of my little bits of information and recipes with my family. My favorite part of student life at Chatham is the interesting and exciting group of people I share the classroom with. And I am hoping to have a "life-changing" moment here.
Maggie Morris, MAFS '13After living in Paraguay for a few years, I decided I wanted to study Food Justice, Chatham's Food Studies program had everything I wanted and more.
Nicole Muise-Kielkucki, MAFS '12Before I came to Chatham, I earned my BA in Politics and Philosophy with a focus on Latin America at the University of Pittsburgh. Living in Cochabamba, Bolivia, traveling through South America and through my coursework, I have come to understand how the many parts of the global food system interact, work, and sometimes fail on a large scale. However, time spent growing in the community garden in the Homewood Cemetery, in the greenhouses at Phipps Conservatory, and in my own backyard, has put me in touch with how food can work on a small scale. I want to combine what I know and am learning about growing, politics and economics to develop a local food system that is accessible, safe and healthful for our selves, our neighbors and larger community. This year I am helping the Winchester Thurston School's senior class develop a project related to food security and history. This fall we will be constructing a High Tunnel on the school's campus, which will provide an extended growing season in which to produce food that will supply Jubilee Kitchen.
Heather Penn, MAFS '13Almost a full semester in (Wow, time flies!) I have found my experience at Chatham to be both challenging and enjoyable. Meeting and getting to know this group of people from various backgrounds, all coming together for a common purpose is eye-opening and inspiring. I came across the MAFS program while looking at various masters programs in the area, intent on going back to school after a lengthy break. When I found the program, I thought, "This is perfect!" Out of college, I started cooking for myself simply because I needed to eat, and it became an obsession, a hobby, an outlet for creativity. As I've become more aware of the problems we face with the food system, it adds on another tier. I am very interested in the culture of food and what role food plays in people's lives, from family meals to restaurants to access to fresh, wholesome food. I grew up in Erie, PA and headed to Washington, PA for my undergraduate degree. Upon graduation from W&J, I moved to Pittsburgh. After a brief hiatus in Rochester, NY, I got homesick and came back. My husband and I currently live in the South Hills area where we love hosting "Family Dinners" on Sundays for our close friends.
Julie Rosenbaum, MAFS '13
Sustainability and agriculture in terms of food is a growing career field and a personal interest of mine. Chatham offers a great, new program that fulfills the need to educate people and prepare them for sustainable jobs.
I moved to Pittsburgh in summer 2010 after growing up and living in Detroit. My husband is enrolled at the Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine at Seton Hill University in Greensburg, which is what originally brought us to the 'Burgh. I am so glad we are here because I would not have learned about, and probably enrolled in, the Food Studies program at Chatham had we not moved. We share our home in Plum with a furry friend named Lucy, and in my spare time I like to cook, blog about food, and watch cooking shows ... hence the Food Studies focus.
Tanya Searle, MAFS '13It's a little early yet, but so far I have really enjoyed making the transition back to school. It's been hard work, but good work, and I am learning more every day. I had done a lot of reading of the "usual suspects" related to food issues, but wanted a more in-depth study, and exposure to a variety of opinions and ideas. I grew up in upstate New York, but moved to the south after college. I have worked as a stage manager in professional theatre for about 18 years, most of them at The Alabama Shakespeare Festival in Montgomery. I am member of Actors' Equity Association, the union of professional actors and stage managers in the United States. I have a large family spread out all over the east coast. I am a little scared of being back in the land of snow!!!
Dianne Shenk, MAFS '12The Master's in Food Studies program is challenging, integrating the many groups of people involved with food - farmers, processors, distributors, government agencies and consumers. We're learning how food moves through and between these various groups and how they interact with and influence each other. It's complicated and fascinating to discover the global food system and trace the origins of what we eat. I'm interested in Food Studies because it's a multi-disciplinary approach to something we all interact with every day. Food affects our health and our community. We make economic and political decisions every time we go to the grocery store or visit a Farmer's Market. Every day, in choosing what and how we eat, we influence the world around us. It's fascinating to learn about the farmers, companies and policies that influence our food decisions. I was born in Tanzania and lived in East Africa until my mid-teens, when I moved to the US to finish high school and attend college. I've lived in large cities for most of my adult life and enjoy the complexity of life in an urban setting. I grow vegetables in my backyard garden and frequent farm stands and farmer's markets for farm-raised meats and fruit. I lived in Minnesota for 8 years, where I learned to ride horses and fly airplanes. Four years ago I moved to Pittsburgh, and love the city and surrounding country. Pittsburgh is an accessible, affordable city and I'm very excited by the active network of small farms in the surrounding area.
Jeanne Sutter, MAFS '13My road to the Food Studies program has been full of twists, turns and rest stops. I graduated from Drew University with a degree in English and promptly fell into a Democratic primary campaign quite by accident. That life took me to Washington, D.C. where I worked for the Aspen Institute, Boeing, the Democratic National Committee and a Democratic public affairs firm, the Dewey Square Group. I've been a scheduler, field staff and worked in communications and state and local outreach. After five years in Washington, I moved to Portland, OR and worked with graduate students in higher ed administration at the Oregon Health & Science University. Deciding to pursue a lifelong dream of attending culinary school, I enrolled at the Oregon Culinary Institute - a small school dedicated to training kitchen staff who have mastered technique and can apply their skills to different settings. I learned about an academic discipline called "food studies." I did a lot of research on the different programs and decided that Chatham was the right place for me. I like the diverse course offerings and being part of something new. I don't yet know what I will do after graduation next year but I look forward to new opportunities.
Cory Van Horn, MAFS '12Inspired by the cooking shows of my childhood like The Galloping Gourmet, The Frugal Gourmet and The French Chef with Julia Child, my obsession for cooking has since turned into a life-long passion for food. I decided to return to the world of academia after moving to Pittsburgh from Chicago over 3 years ago. I grew up in a small town in northern Michigan and earned an undergraduate degree from Grand Valley State University. It was an advertisement for the Food Studies program that sparked a realization it was time to leave my 8-year career in marketing to pursue my dreams – a risk that has yielded high dividends both personally and professionally. I’ve been able to network with community partners across the regions who share the same desire for creating positive change in the food system. It is through these community partnerships where I have been able to tailor my academic experiences to fit my interests and career goals. I knew I had chosen the right program when the first event of the semester was a potluck. The food was incredible. The potluck provided a way to engage with my new classmates and learn about their own experiences in an informal setting. Even carpooling to the Eden Hall Campus with a group of friends has been a wonderful way to keep the discussions going outside of the classroom. I also publish recipes and articles regularly on my blog www.CulinaryCory.com.
Eric Werner, MAFS '13
I find that the opportunities and partnerships within the community are a very important part of the Food Studies program. The beautiful, quiet campus is somehow centrally located in the middle of the exciting East End of Pittsburgh, yet is very private and removed. I love the locale, especially only having a 20 minute commute by foot.
I chose this major because I have been very interested in food related things for years, both on the culinary front, as well as issues pertaining to sustainability and food policy. I'm excited to have found a program that is at the forefront of a new discipline.
I grew up in the Pittsburgh area and attended the University of Pittsburgh where I double majored in History and Religious Studies.Over the past few years my food interests have greatly expanded, I've not only become a much more proficient cook, but I've become very acquainted with food issues our world is facing today. With my education from Chatham I hope to become involved in food policy, or to continue my education by working on food histories.
Amanda West, MAFS '12I grew up in Chesapeake, Virginia and was raised on french fries, chicken nuggets and macaroni and cheese. I wouldn't eat much else. I left home to attend Virginia Commonwealth University and decided to try vegetarianism my sophomore year. I am still one today (don't worry, I am in no way preachy about it!) and credit that with my turn towards food justice and a more sustainable food system. It has only been four years but I went from having no idea what goes into my food or who works towards its creation to being in this program. It has been quite a journey. My experience at Chatham so far, though short, has been great. I have found the faculty members and admissions team at the school to be very supportive and helpful. My classes have helped me evolve into a better thinker and I feel that the next year and a half or so only holds more of the same. Being at the Eden Hall Campus has made me feel like just camping out and staying there. I love being there and I love that we have the opportunity to learn there and to not only use it as a learning space but as a community space, too.
Teresa Yoder, MAFS '12
From digging in the graduate garden to researching commodity chains, my first semester at Chatham allowed me to become fully immersed in the world of food studies. Through the assigned readings, in-depth class discussions, and writing assignments, we have collectively worked toward a greater understanding of issues within our current food system and steps we can take to create positive change.
My favorite part of student life at Chatham has been getting to know my fellow classmates. We all come from such diverse educational backgrounds but yet still share many of the same goals. Our varied experiences contribute to rich class discussions and meaningful times of sharing. Our potlucks are an example of how food is more than just sustanence; it can create community. I selected Food Studies because of my passion for food and educating others about where their food comes from. My undergraduate degree in Nutrition provided me with the scientific understanding of how our bodies utilize food for energy, but I felt like I was missing the bigger picture. I wanted to understand the whole system, from field to plate.
Growing up on an egg farm in rural Central PA shaped my interest in food and nutrition. Helping my mother in the garden fueled my love for fresh, seasonal produce. It wasn't until I moved out of the country that I began to understand that not everyone has these deep, personal connections with food. After college, I worked as a Registered Dietitian for retirement communities. Through these experiences, I began to realize my passion for nutrition education. After taking a job at Penn State as a Nutritionist for a nutrition education program, I became concerned about the food system when I heard a seminar about the loss of small farms and farmland in the US. This concern led me to Chatham's Food Studies program. I'm elated that I found this program, and I look forward to a future working in nutrition and environmental education.