Georgia Pate has been working in confections for 11 years, beginning after high school. Her fascination with the process fueled her desire to learn as much as she could. Working in the Quality Department led to her first project. “(It) allowed me to research food science, and make something new with the R&D group,” said Georgia. “I wanted to learn more – and I needed a program that was compatible to my at-the-time schedule. K-State was perfect.”
A return to school meant figuring out how to balance work and studying. “When I started, I was already good at arranging schedule with family due to rotating shifts so frequently,” said Georgia. “When I added classes, it did become more of challenge – and I had to learn how not to become distracted, and ensure I was not sacrificing family, friends or education at the same time.”
It was no easy feat, but Georgia had a support system ready to help her out. “I was very thankful for my advisor, Dr. Deanna Retzlaff, who had patiently worked with me to ensure I would meet all requirements prior to my planned graduation date,” said Georgia. “If something didn’t work, she was always there to provide another option and support.”
Her efforts paid off. She was able to finish her degree in three years, while applying what she was learning to her job. “While in school, I continued working for the confectionery company and was promoted to Food Safety Document Control, developing the position and enhancing the food safety program at the company,” said Georgia. “I was also used as an instructor for sister companies globally to come and inspect according to FDA regulations, and new food safety requirements.”
Georgia’s hard work and perseverance has opened new doors for her. “Now with my degree, I have been able to launch into a new professional world, working with some of the top research professionals within my company, helping to launch new products, and gaining invaluable knowledge and growth,” said Georgia.
Professionally, Georgia says the sky’s the limit. “I was promoted to the Research & Department group of my company, which has really given me opportunities both in the states and with the R&D group to learn, innovate, and be a part of the optimization process,” said Georgia. “I really am looking forward to working towards and completing my graduate degree at K-State, while also developing myself further within the R&D group with my company.”