by Maggie Stanton
Originally, when Marla Yerges began her undergraduate degree, her goal was to become a veterinarian. As she continued to pursue chemistry at Indiana University, she found herself drawn to the food science industry through various internships, and discovered a love for product development.
Yerges found herself working at a protein ingredient development company, looking to further her education. “When I started working in my current job, they encouraged me to get my masters,” said Yerges. “I wanted to study food science. I live in St. Louis and they don’t offer that.” This led Yerges to search for online programs, and found K-State’s online graduate program in food science.
Yerges visited K-State to get a feel for the program, and immediately liked what she saw. “We came here to visit and we talked with Dr. Fadi Aramouni and it seemed like a good fit,” said Yerges.
Married with a small child, Yerges said the flexibility of the online program worked better for her as opposed to a traditional program. The online component allowed her to study around her job and her child’s schedule.
Yerges advises online students to be well-prepared and organized when pursuing their graduate degree. “If you do want to pursue the online degree, just make sure that you’re highly organized,” said Yerges. “If you don’t stay organized, you’re going to pass up lectures to watch, you’re going to pass up assignments and pop quizzes, so you have to really be active.”
Yerges also managed to fit an in-person class into her schedule. With the recent passing of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), Yerges took a three-day course to become certified, and would encourage other students to do the same, if possible. “If you have the opportunity to do that, you feel like you’re part of the school,” said Yerges.
Additionally, Yerges suggests visiting the school beforehand and getting to know the faculty. Yerges said doing so before classes began helped her get to know her professors and the online setup.
Yerges realizes that defense seminars, the final portion of the graduate program, can seem intimidating at first. She recently wrapped up her defense seminar, “Food Protein Enzyme Hydrolysis and Substance Effects Using Soy Protein and Dairy Whey Isolates,” and said the experience “wasn’t as scary as I thought it was going to be.”
Finally, Yerges takes every opportunity while in Manhattan to purchase K-State gear. She recently picked up a K-State shirt for her son, so he can be ready when she walks across the stage to get her diploma this May.