"I am passionate about trying
to find a way to make life easier
for people who are worried about putting food on the table for their children."
Hi! I just wanted
to let you know that things are going well at CIP, Boon writes.
I am now working on a project with the yacon syrup CIP is helping
farmers in Oxapampa make. I am attempting to make candy from this syrup
without any added sugar. It may sound easy enough, but the types of
sugars within the syrup make creating a stable candy a challenge.
Boon began working in February
as a three-month volunteer in Lima, Peru, at the CIP, a research installation
that seeks to deliver sustainable solutions to world hunger, poverty
and degradation of natural resources.
Its a perfect fit
for Boon for more reasons than one. Yes, she can pursue her interest
in international agricultural policy issues and solving world hunger,
as well as continue what has become a habit of volunteer service in
both local and international settings.
However, theres one
more thing that stamps Meant to Be on the CIP: The center
was founded 30 years ago through an agreement between the Peruvian government
and N.C. State University.
And the university has almost
always been somehow intertwined with her life from Boons
lifelong (and national award-winning) 4-H activities to her student
years as a Caldwell Fellow and member of Phi Beta Kappa, Phi Kappa Phi
and Gamma Sigma Delta honor societies and the N.C. State Scholars program.
As she told her fellow graduates
in December, N.C. State was reaching out, nurturing and supporting
me, even before I became a student.
Maybe it was the Wolfpack
baby bottle Boon favored as an infant. Or maybe the 1983 NCAA Basketball
Championship T-shirt her three uncles, all graduates of the College
of Agriculture and Life Sciences, gave to their 3-year-old niece,
Caitlin. Or the fact that her grandfather, a dairy farmer who put seven
children through college, once said, Theres nowhere Id
send my kids but N.C. State. Thats where they get the best treatment
in school and the best jobs when they come out.
Wherever it began, by the
time she was 10 years old, Boons matriculation decision was already
made. I was attending 4-H Congress here at N.C. State that summer,
she recalls. And as we drove through campus, I pointed to places
and told my mom, Thats where Ill live when Im
here. And thats where Ill go to class when Im here.
Not if, but when.
Between that 4-H Congress
when she staked her claim to the university and the commencement where
she stood in its spotlight, much has happened to bring Caitlin Boon
to the point where she defines her future in terms of a passion: I
am passionate about trying to find a way to make life easier for people
who are worried about putting food on the table for their children.
If she had her college choice
made at age 10, by the time Boon was a teenager, she not only had her
major nailed but had a pretty good idea of what her career might be.
This was thanks in part
to a visit to her aunt, N.C. State food science alumna Georgette McAuley,
who took Boon on a tour of the food company where McAuley works in research
and development. There Boon sampled products and also got an early taste
of the many parameters of food production such as product safety
and design, market research, dealing with suppliers that she
would later learn more about through her internships with companies
such as Kraft and General Mills. And she got a glimpse of foods
structural properties that she later would put to the test in the Food
Science Departments rheology lab, where as research assistant
she focused on the textural characteristics of food.
4-H program, where she did food presentations, enhanced that early
interest in food science, she says.
Dr. Gary Davis of
the N.C. State Poultry Science Department led me on national trips to
do egg cookery presentations. He was an influence, as was Dr. Lynn Turner
of Food Science. They were project leaders for the 4-H Food Quality
and Food Safety Symposium that I attended during my high school years.
Gary got me into poultry judging, and I realized that poultry science
would work well with the food science idea Id had for so long.
Looking now from the perspective
of having earned her two degrees, Boon says, Poultry science has
taught me about food from farm to table, and food science has taken
me in-depth to the science of safety and how things interact on the
chemical and microbiological level, so Ive been given a nice view
of the entire food industry in a way.
Noting other ways 4-H helped
launch her to where she is today, Boon says, From the academic
side, 4-H taught me how to keep records and to do public speaking,
adding that the nurturing and confidence building she received as a
child also paid dividends in preparing her to come to N.C. State. Its
such a great thing that a 4-Her who is 10 years old can interact
with N.C. State faculty members. By the time youre a college freshman,
youre comfortable with professors.
Also, it gave me the
experience of working with a variety of people who valued my ideas,
no matter how old I was. I learned the concept of teamwork at a young
Perhaps her favorite 4-H
memory, she says, is the night she was tapped into Honor Club, because
doing the tapping in the candlelight ceremony were her mother
and seven other family members Honor Clubbers all.
Boon particularly recalls
how, as state 4-H vice president, she met N.C. Secretary of State (and
Policy issues with food
production and safety regulation on both a national and an international
level are something she wants to get a handle on.
If I go the policy
route of doing USDA or FDA types of work, Boon says, I look
forward to the real-life experiences of figuring out how the wording
on one single piece of legislation could mean so much to people who
have to meet a regulation, or how changing one word could mean products
being just as safe, but much easier to produce.
Her international perspective
is already well developed from her experiences in humanitarian missions
to Mexico and Cuba, her studies as a Caldwell Fellow in England at Oxford
University and her attendance at the International Youth Leadership
Conference. Even her 1998 high school diploma from North Mecklenburg
High School is from its International Baccalaureate program.
All these experiences
academic, 4-H and volunteer she says, will come in handy in her
This came about because
I wanted to do something similar to Peace Corps, but in a time frame
that would allow me to pursue my Ph.D., Boon says. I e-mailed
the Potato Center and asked if they needed volunteers, and they said,
Come on down!
In terms of what shell
gain from the experience, Boon says, I want to get an idea what
working in a center like this would be like, what educational paths
I need to go down for advanced degrees. I want to learn about the process
of funding such a center, and I want to experience working with people
on the farm and learning their approach to the problems they face. And
I hope to improve my Spanish.
Meanwhile, she already is
putting into practice what she preached at commencement: Now as
we leave this institution, we must begin nurturing humanity with the
knowledge and skills we have gained.
The skill and knowledge
she shares come from years hallmarked with honors and accomplishments:
such as winning statewide 4-H oral presentation events on nine separate
occasions; such as maintaining a 4.0 GPA in her double majors of food
science and poultry science. Even with her demanding laboratory work,
participation on a nationally second-place college bowl team, internships
and intensive academic routine, she found time to tutor second-through-fifth
graders from low-income homes as part of the YMCAs after-school
program. And she still works with 4-H as a volunteer and event speaker.
When you ask her secret
of time-management, the answer comes from left field something
youd think would be a schedule breaker, not maker.
I owe a lot to the
fact that I was a competitive figure skater all through school,
she answers. I had to get up and practice between 4 and 6 a.m.,
so now between 4:30 and 8 a.m. I get a lot of work done.
So, chances are if it was
between 4:30 and 8 a.m. Peru time that she tackled the yacon syrup project
she mentioned in her e-mail, the solution to the challenge is long since
a done deal.