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Choosing MI proved to be wise decision: food tech grad

Heidi Williams


By Darcy MacRae

Heidi Williams admits she wasn't entirely sure what career path she wanted to follow after she graduated from high school.

She calls the lead up to high school graduation confusing as she searched for a post-secondary education program that interested her and would lead to meaningful employment upon completion of the course.

When she began investigating the Fisheries and Marine Institute (MI) full suite of oceans and marine related programs, Ms. Williams found what she was looking for.

"After some thought and weighing out different options, I decided to enrol in the food technology diploma program at the Marine Institute," she said. "Little did I know prior to making my decision that this course would provide me with an exceptional education experience, allow me to travel the world and secure a position with our country's federal government."

Ms. Williams graduated from MI's food technology diploma program in the spring of 2008 before enrolling in Memorial University's bachelor of technology the following fall (she has since earned her degree from this program). She then used her education to first secure an eight-week work placement with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) and then a full time job with the organization in January 2011.

She credits the education she received at MI with playing a big role in her early career success.

"The food technology program offers an unbeatable hands-on experience and knowledge of chemistry, microbiology, engineering and business," said Ms. Williams. "This allowed me to apply and explore areas such as product development, preservation, processing techniques, packaging, distribution and use of safe, nutritious and wholesome food."

Ms. Williams is a food inspector with CFIA, with regular duties relating to audits, sampling, insect surveys, animal health, food recalls and consumer complaints. She enjoys her job a great deal and is excited she is able to conduct meaningful work in her hometown of New Harbour, N.L.

"Once I completed my work term at CFIA, I knew this was where I wanted to work full time. It feels like all my hard work has paid off," she said.

In addition to the classroom and workplace experience Ms.Williams gained while studying at MI, she also credits the institute for helping her enjoy valuable, real-world experience prior to graduation.

During her final year of the food technology program, Ms. Williams and some of her classmates travelled to Boston for the Boston International Seafood Show, the largest seafood show in the world, to see firsthand the application of product development processing techniques from major international seafood agencies.

She also had the opportunity to take part in international work in Mozambique organized through MI International. This presented Ms. Williams with a chance to put her education to an early test while making a difference in a developing area of the world.

"The purpose of my travels and assistance was to work on the Poverty Reduction Through Fisheries Project. I assisted the project by conducting a spoilage run of fish native to Mozambique," explained Ms. Williams. "Results from the spoilage run would in turn aid the processes used in the fishery, enabling fishers and processors to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of their businesses and thus increase their income and food supply. Using my knowledge and skills I developed throughout my training, I was able to conduct my work confidently and appreciate the importance of my education and experiences on a whole new level."

With a budding career that is clearly on the upswing, Ms. Williams is proving to be a valuable alumna of the Marine Institute. She says being a graduate of MI has helped open doors for her and is a distinction that will continue to aid her career moving forward.

"I can honestly say that deciding to enrol in the tood technology program at the Marine Institute was probably one of the best decisions I have ever made," she said. "It has been at times a challenging endeavour, but without a doubt a rewarding accomplishment."