It’s almost “back to school” season again. Approximately 25 new students will be enrolling as new candidates for the MLA in Gastronomy or the Food Studies Graduate Certificate. Here is an introduction to three of them.
Michelle Estades Santiago was born in Arecibo, one of the largest cities in the northern coast of Puerto Rico. In May 2016 she completed a BA in Journalism with a second concentration in Radio Production at the University of Puerto Rico Río Piedras Campus. From 2013 to 2016 she worked as a web journalist in the newspaper Metro Puerto Rico, and from 2014 to 2016 she also served as a journalist in Diálogo, the newspaper of the University of Puerto Rico, where she wrote many stories related to food. Since she was 17 years old Michelle has prepared birthday cakes and desserts for all occasions. So when she read about the master’s program in Gastronomy at Boston University she knew it was perfect for her because it combined her two professional areas. With this master she intends to specialize in food journalism and work that concept in her country.
Anastasia Nicolaou was born and raised (for the most part) in Silicon Valley, and is lucky to have a mother who loves cooking and traveling, and fervently exposed her to both from a young age. Anastasia came to Boston to attend Simmons College, graduating with honors in Economics and Political Science. While working her first day job out of school for Governor Deval Patrick, she worked weekends, waiting tables and getting to know the industry. This fostered a passion for cooking and food culture that had long been a hobby. Now the Communications Coordinator for an office focused on women’s parity in American politics, Anastasia joins the Gastronomy program’s Food Policy track to learn about food security and emerging markets, as well as explore the role of food in our collective cultural identity.
Donna Lopez is a California and Austin, Texas transplant to Boston and have family members in Chile. She has travelled extensively — from Peru, Colombia, Mexico, Venezuela, and Panama to Western Europe, especially Spain. Donna is an MGH graduate with years of work in clinical nursing and education. She has an undergraduate degree from UCLA in International Relations and a graduate degree from Tufts Medical School PHPD program in Pain Research, Education and Policy. She has also studied the intersection of immunology, nutrition and infectious diseases in a global world. Ultimately, she came to the conclusion that aesthetics and nutritive value in meals along with good company are the foundation to health and well-being in human lives. Donna also spent a few years studying Traditional Chinese Medicine and Asian concepts of nutrition. In TCM the foundation of health comes ancestrally before birth, but after birth, the stomach (and the TCM concept of spleen) are at the center of human health. Thus, nutrition is critical to the health and longevity of our species.
Donna plans to focus on food policy as well as history and culture and notes that the Gastronomy Program has been timed to an era when we need to reflect on our generation’s food supply from a lens on political, economic and food science/marketing policy perspective. She writes: “One of my favorite foods in the last few years are dishes made with quinoa which I was alarmed to learn that the Andean people who have grown and been nourished by this staple for a millennia can no longer afford the price, high on world market prices. Their food substitution of less healthy grains and refined carbohydrates have led to increase in diabetes and heart disease in this population. We are an intimately linked globalized world and I hope to raise at least my own consciousness and hopefully many others through the work in this program and in years after. Julia Child and Jacques Pepin created the innovative idea of combining food study with academia and I think I have found the right place to study and contribute what I know.”