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Q&A with an aspiring Food Chemist

July 18, 2018 - 4 minute read

Lila Musegades

Lila Musegades '18  is presently pursuing a Master’s of Food Science and Technology at Washington State University. Her master’s thesis focuses on the microbiology of wines and ciders with a specific interest in improving the fermentation processes of cider. Her career goals include becoming a Food Chemist and pursuing a doctoral degree.

What led you to Concordia University Irvine?

After attending private Lutheran schools for most of grade school and half of high school, I knew that I wanted a Christ-centered community. I was really impressed by the small class sizes and that every professor knew my name. My sister also attended Concordia University Irvine, and it was close to the beach which made me choose this Concordia specifically.

Which faculty or staff member do you most admire?

I most admire Dr. Kenney because he has a nearly unlimited supply of enthusiasm and love for teaching complex scientific ideas to his students. He oversees so many student researchers and projects that it is even more impressive when he takes the time to give advice and counsel any student in need. His faith in God shows both in and out of the lab, and he made me confident and comfortable in simultaneously being a Christian and a scientist.

How did Concordia prepare you for graduate school?

There are summer research programs offered through the Chemical and Physics Laboratory, so I could work year-round for the lab to help run the lab, work on my projects, and be immersed in my future profession. The summer before my senior year, I published two astronomical research papers in a peer-reviewed journal where I was the first author on one and second author on the other. Those two articles were a huge boost to my leap into a research-centered career field. The process of planning the research, collecting and analyzing data, writing the papers, and going through numerous revisions taught me so much more about this “publish or perish” community than any textbook could. This experience showed me I am strong enough to publish, but also made it easier for me to talk to prospective grad school advisors about what they expect of me.

What excites you most about entering your Master’s program?

I am most excited about finding a program that is suited to my personality and interests, a program that will both challenge and support me. . I am interested in almost every kind of science, but I especially love Chemistry. Having a microbiology-driven degree will push me past my comfort zone, but I trust that God has me here for a reason and will give me the strength and courage needed to surpass my own expectations for myself. I look forward to what knowledge I’ll gain and to get to put it to use in future research endeavors.

Where have you experienced growth as a student?

I have experienced growth in many places as a student. Intellectually I grew with the Q & I Core classes because I was exposed to ideas and debates that challenged my fundamental beliefs. Q & I made me a more flexible academic by being proud of sometimes being wrong and getting the opportunity to learn more information. I have grown socially and spiritually by all the events at Concordia University Irvine I’ve attended and all the friends I made. Finally, I grew from a student to a leader and even a professional by engaging in the behind-the-scenes of the laboratory, planning and running the science camps for Village of Hope kids, and being tested and challenged-and even beaten-by the upper division Chemistry courses.

What sticks with you from Enduring Questions & Ideas?

I will never forget the importance of understanding paradigms taught to me by Dr. Soper in my Core Biology and my History and Philosophy of Science courses. Each person is influenced by their specific experiences and as a result they produce writings, art, scientific and technological advances, stories, and theories. So much information about the author can be gleaned from these works when the paradigm of origin is questioned. I find it truly fascinating that every major is connected and studies just one facet of God's amazing creation.

How do you define vocation?

Vocation is the work that someone has been called or chosen to do, regardless of how menial or daunting each task may be. It should be done to the best of their abilities while trusting in God's mercy, strength, and plan.

What would be your ideal job?

My ideal job is one in which I can feed my passions in my workplace while also having the ability to be a great wife and mother by having a secure and fulfilling career. Food is a big part of my life and I crave to understand the chemistry of what humans eat. I will use my passions to become a Food Chemist so that I can improve the flavor, texture, health benefits, and overall knowledge of food. Everyone eats, so I also like to think that I am saving the world while making everyone a little happier.

What is one thing you have most valued about your time at Concordia?

I valued the personal relationships with the professors. There was deeper communication and understanding of the subjects because the professor could relate to experiences and personalities of the entire class. There was a mutually respectful atmosphere that I specifically looked for when choosing my graduate advisor.

What is your favorite Concordia tradition?

My favorite Concordia tradition would be the good Friday and Easter services in the C.U. Center. Each person adding nails to a cross and witnessing the live transformation of the paintings for good Friday were beautiful while still showing the pain of the cross. Then a few days later the chapel turned to a house of joyful songs and shouts of praise. Such a glorious time in the CUC.

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