For the Love of Food
Wednesday, May 1, 2013
In the Sisti home in Spring Lake, N.J., Sunday evenings are a time for family. A small group gathers in the kitchen, gravy simmers on an open flame as an Italian family bustles about, chopping locally grown vegetables, boiling organic pasta, and setting the table. For many people, cultural traditions influence ideas about many parts of life. For graduate Mary Sisti, this simple Sunday tradition has had a profound influence on her academic major and chosen career path.
"For as long as I can remember, my mom has placed a high value on consuming organic and locally grown food," says Sisti, a food marketing major at Saint Joseph's University. "I have fond memories of going to the local market with her as a child and helping her to prepare the big Sunday meal. This is really where I first developed my interest in food, learning where it came from, nutrition and healthy eating."
Sisti arrived on campus freshman year prepared to leave her mark. As a senator on the dining/facilities committee her first year, she campaigned for healthier food options in the cafeteria. Two years later, Sisti's peers elected her student body president; a one-year term during which she led an initiative to install water stations throughout campus and promote the use of reusable water bottles. "It's been rewarding to see these initiatives come full circle," she says.
The recipient of numerous scholarships and awards, Sisti has traveled across the country to attend conferences and network with those in the industry. Most recently, she and her teammates won first place in the annual Food Industry University Coalition Student Case Competition sponsored by the National Grocers Association in Las Vegas, Nev.
These experiences have exposed her to career opportunities available within the consumer-packaged goods industry. Referred to as CPG by those in industry, these are products consumed every day by the average person: food and beverages, clothing and household products.
After completing a summer internship with the global health care company in 2012, Merck Consumer Care offered Sisti a position in their future leaders program in October of that same year. Upon graduation, she will work on a team as a sales analyst in the company's Summit, N.J. office. Sisti says she hopes to move to Hoboken, N.J., where she will also explore participation in a community-supported agriculture program or a local community co-op.
Immediately after graduation, however, Sisti, and 20 of her classmates will travel to Italy to discover the best foods of the country during an international study tour as an extension of her final food marketing course at Saint Joseph's. "I'm looking forward to visiting with farmers, vintners and artisan cheese makers," says Sisti. "Perhaps I'll even come home with a new item of two to introduce to the Sunday night dinner table."