Student Creates Her Own Program to Improve Food Safety

July 6, 2021
close up of female student, Magdalena Doyle

Magdalena Doyle used to work in food production. Disappointed in the lack of Good Manufacturing Procedures (GMPs) and quality standards, she quit and spent some time working as a nanny. Still, the desire to see the systems work better and make food production safer never left her. “I decided that to change the system, I needed to have a better understanding of how the system works,” Magdalena said. “In particular, I was interested in food safety and allergen controls. I talked to Chef Joe before I applied to see what his thoughts were, and he was very encouraging. I spent a few evenings pouring over the class catalog and degree requirements, and when I went in to talk to the advisors, I had a class schedule all prepped by semester.”

She needed to have prepped a schedule because Magdalena wasn’t just opting for a path in the Culinary program or the Laboratory Food Science program. Instead, she combined elements from several programs and created her own degree.

“She came into class motivated and with a solid idea of what she wanted,” said Dan Harrigan, Lab Technology Instructor. “By that, I mean she had a picture of her career goal, to own her own business, likely a bakery focused on items without some of the major food allergens. Knowing this, she already had an idea of what she needed to study, and the knowledge areas she was missing drove her to design her own degree. BTC had what she needed but in pieces. Part from the Food Lab Program, part from the Culinary Program, and part from the Business Program. Although I know it added stress to her life in doing this because it split many of her classes between Monroe and Janesville.”

As if that wasn’t a big enough challenge, Magdalena learned a week or two after orientation that she was expecting her first child. “My teachers were so accommodating that fall when I needed to sit during lab classes,” she recalled. “The next spring when I had him, my teachers all knew about it, so they let me take my time to catch up, which I appreciated.”

Along with having a baby in the middle of her program, Magdalena faced a number of struggles related to the COVID crisis and other family concerns. “When COVID hit, my husband lost his job, and I lost my nanny job because their parents could work from home. Last fall semester, I had surgery, then this spring semester, my husband had reconstructive surgery, so I was taking care of him and the baby and working two part-time jobs to support us.” To help her stay on track for graduation, Magdalena took advantage of some BTC emergency grants to help with childcare and a car repair.

Following graduation, she plans to take over as kitchen manager at a local daycare. A job that she’s been working toward and training in for a while now. It’s a job that allows her to be off in the afternoons to be with her son and enjoy the outdoors.

When asked what advice she has for other students, Magdalena said, “Know your goals and keep going. Talk to people when you need help. There’s tutoring, financial help, and counseling if you find you need any of those, but honestly, everyone is super supportive here, so don’t be afraid to ask.”

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