Inspiring Graduate: Areeba Ali, M.S. Food Science & Technology

‘UW-Stout has provided me with a nurturing environment where I have been able to grow academically, professionally and personally.’
May 7, 2024

Inspiring Graduate: Areeba Ali (’24)

Areeba Ali’s personal journey to graduation “reflects the resilience, determination and spirit of perseverance that defines our graduating class,” she said.

After a break of seven years, Ali decided to return to academia, despite feeling doubt and uncertainty about her ability to succeed. She chose UW-Stout’s food and science technology master’s program because of its focus on applied learning to prepare students for successful careers upon graduation.

Inspiring grad, Areeba Ali
Areeba Ali receives her master's hood at commencement / UW-Stout

“The university's hands-on approach to education, combined with its commitment to innovation and industry partnerships, resonated with me as I sought to gain practical skills and real-world experience,” she said.

Ali, who has received several awards for her research, earned her master's in food and science technology on May 4, along with 1,037 graduates.

She plans to pursue a career in food product innovation or food packaging and earn her Ph.D. in a related field after gaining industrial experience. 

“My future research will be based on the research projects and scholarly activities conducted at UW-Stout. Each project and activity has shaped my aspirations and commitment to make impactful contributions toward the advancement of science.

“My experience at UW-Stout, where I found acceptance, support and guidance from both classmates and professors, has equipped me with firsthand knowledge of the transformative power of education and the importance of fostering a culture of inclusivity and belonging within our academic community,” she said.

How has your UW-Stout education changed you?

My experience at Stout has fundamentally transformed me, encouraging independence and instilling a profound belief in my capabilities. Throughout my journey, I’ve learned to navigate the complexities of balancing various responsibilities, realizing that while it may not always be easy, it is entirely possible. 

Inspiring grad, Areeba Ali
Areeba Ali celebrates at commencement / UW-Stout

This newfound sense of self-assurance has empowered me to tackle challenges head-on, knowing that with determination and perseverance, I can overcome any obstacle. 

My Stout education has not only equipped me with valuable knowledge and skills but has also shaped me into a resilient and self-reliant individual, prepared to face the opportunities and challenges that lie ahead.

How well has UW-Stout prepared you to work in your field and why?

UW-Stout has prepared me well enough to work in my field by providing me with hands-on experience on all essential skills. My projects included developing health-conscious snacks, including strawberry-flavored chewing gum and beetroot-fortified muffins and developing biodegradable packaging films from whey protein isolate. 

These projects enhanced my skills of product innovation, critical thinking, problem solving and development of new ideas which are very important in applications in the food industry.

What stands out about your UW-Stout experience?

I would like to thank Dr. Pranabendu Mitra for his endless support during this master’s degree. He has been the kindest soul to facilitate an ample number of students in food science with a smile on his face. 

Inspiring grad, Areeba Ali and Dr. Pranabendu Mitra
Areeba Ali and Professor Pranabendu Mitra / UW-Stout

From admission to facilitating all the classes and labs and then helping and guiding in the research projects and writing recommendations for scholarships, his unwavering support has made my experience worth it. 

I am deeply grateful for Dr. Mitra’s mentorship and support, which have not only enriched my academic journey but have also inspired me to pursue excellence in my field.

How did your involvement on campus impact your experience?

I have presented my research on various forums nationwide, and I have always felt proud to present UW-Stout. 

I have had the honor of winning first place and the People’s Choice Award for “Development of Eco-friendly Milk Whey Protein Isolate Biodegradable Packaging” at the WiSys Quick Pitch State Final in 2023.

Food science graduate student Areeba Ali wins WiSys Quick Pitch state title, People’s Choice

Research into sustainable packaging made from milk protein inspired by Wisconsin’s dairy-rich identity
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I also won first prize at the Biohealth Communications Competition for graduate students at the Wisconsin Biohealth Summit. I was recently awarded a Graduate Scholarship from the Institute of Food Technology Minnesota chapter, which is a prestigious name in the food science field. 

And I was given an honorable mention for the Outstanding Graduate Student Researcher at UW-Stout's Research Day 2024.

What challenges did you face in earning your degree and how did you overcome them?

This degree was challenging for me overall, managing family and a full-time student experience while commuting from Eau Claire throughout the three years of my degree.

I’ve experienced firsthand the power of resilience and the importance of seeking support during challenging times.

Areeba Ali with her daughter at WiSys SPARK Symposium
Areeba Ali with her daughter at WiSys SPARK Symposium / Areeba Ali

Despite facing the unexpected challenge of pregnancy and childbirth during a semester, I was overwhelmed by the outpouring of support and encouragement from my peers, professors and mentors. 

Their unwavering belief in my abilities and their willingness to lend a helping hand made all the difference, allowing me to navigate through adversity and continue pursuing my academic and personal goals.

From dedicated faculty members who go above and beyond to help their students succeed to the vibrant campus life and diverse student body, UW-Stout has provided me with a nurturing environment where I have been able to grow academically, professionally and personally. 

What are you most proud of as you finish your degree?

As I conclude my degree, what I am most proud of is being a mother of two daughters and setting a powerful example for them and for others who may believe that pursuing education while raising children, especially after a significant gap of six to seven years, is impossible. 

I take immense pride in not only excelling in my degree but also breaking barriers and paving the way for other women who may have doubted their ability to achieve their educational goals. My journey serves as a testament to the resilience and determination that lies within each of us, reaffirming that with perseverance and dedication, anything is possible.

I am proud to be a part of the UW-Stout family and grateful for the opportunities it has offered me.

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