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Kelsey Gatto: M.S in Nutrition and Food Science


“I’ve had a really fantastic experience at Montclair. I am from NJ but I did not know much about the school until I applied to the program, and I was lucky enough to get an assistantship position. I’ve found that Montclair truly has a small school feeling within a huge university. I’ve gotten to know a lot of members of faculty, both adjuncts and full time faculty, and I’ve built a really wonderful relationship with them. I went to a huge undergraduate school with about 13,000 students and it very much felt like a large university, so I was expecting the same thing here but it’s not the dynamic that I found. Montclair offers a very personalized experience with small classrooms, so students have the benefit of really getting to know your classmates and your professors.

After I graduate, I will be completing the Montclair Dietetic Internship with hopes of becoming a Registered Dietitian. Right now I’m leaning towards continuing to do research within the field. I’ve been lucky enough to conduct research through my assistantship and through my thesis, and from those experiences I’ve really learned that I want to continue doing research, whether it’s through some type of research facility or through a doctoral program. I’m really interested in behavioral aspects of nutrition, so my thesis focuses on weight loss apps (food diary apps), logging behaviors, and psychological components in order to highlight the role that technology can play in people’s weight loss journey.

My favorite part of the Master’s in Nutrition and Food Science was the practicum experience. Students in the Nutrition and Food Science program find placement with a company or setting where they run their own nutrition intervention or food science intervention, depending on their concentration. As a Nutrition Education student, I had to run a structured nutrition education intervention, and I choose be placed at a bariatric surgery center though it was was something I didn’t have much experience with previously. I spent 90 hours on site developing and implementing the intervention, starting from the theoretical background all the way through running the program myself. Actually getting that hands on experience in education for a population that I had previously known little about was a great hands on experience that allowed me to take what I learned in the classroom and apply it to a group in a practical setting.

My advice to Montclair students would be to take advantage of the faculty that’s here. A lot of professors really want to work with students and truly want to get involved; they’re here to offer guidance. If you take the time to speak with them, you’ll have the opportunity to learn about their varied focuses and different backgrounds which you might never expected. Some of my greatest conversations were not with my personal professors but with others in the department or long after I completed a course. I’ve had such a great experience that I would definitely encourage people to go and meet as many people here as possible, students and faculty alike.

As for people who want to be RD’s, my advice would be to put fear aside and try to step up to the leading positions. There are countless different avenues you can take as a dietitian; while a lot of people go into clinical dietetics, some people want to work in counseling, conduct their own research, or work for a food company. With such a wide ranging field, I know my personal goal is to explore as much of it as possible, and that’s what I would suggest for others, as well. Take every opportunity you can find to work with diverse faculty members or in unique food-related settings so you can view as large of a scope as possible. ”


Jesus Plata: Applied Nutrition Major

    jesusGraduating senior Jesus Plata has made the most of his time at Montclair State, studying Applied Nutrition with a minor in Public Health. When reflecting back at his time at MSU, Plata mentioned that he enjoyed the connections he made with his professors. Jesus’ professors helped him narrow his path and gave him valuable advice based off of their experiences. The Applied Nutrition major really appealed to Plata since it provided numerous career options in the nutrition and health field. “What Applied Nutrition did was it opened a lot of opportunities and it was kind of an interdisciplinary curriculum where I could see that there is public health, psychology, and communication”, Plata stated. These different avenues allowed Plata to visualize himself in a multitude of settings instead of limiting himself.

    Plata’s studies in Public Health taught him to look at nutrition within the bigger picture and understand how food affects communities. This inspired Jesus to look at what he could do for his community of Paterson to set an example for other communities. Plata noted, “I also like to be a voice. Be a voice in the community but also be a voice in the policy aspect.” Classes like International Cuisine helped Plata understand the culture of food as well as the policies that affect it, which ultimately inspired him to pursue global nutrition. When asked what advice he would give to other Nutrition majors, Jesus said, “I encourage the students to really speak out and be a voice. Eventually we won’t be in school and that will be a missed opportunity because if you didn’t take advantage of the opportunity, you missed all of the networking and the people, which are very important”.

Dr. Katz: Superintendent of East Windsor Regional School District

 Dr. Richard Katz, one of Montclair’s own adjunct professors, has been appointed as Superintendent for the East Windsor Regional School District. This PK-12 district includes a student population of over 5,000 student and over 700 professional and support staff. The Board of Education unanimously decided to hire Dr. Katz in this influential role.


Picture of Dr.Katz

Having obtained his Master’s degree in Education Administration from Montclair State University, Dr.Katz now teaches undergraduate education courses that focus on leadership and supervision. He also earned a Doctorate of Education from Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey. Throughout his professional career, Dr. Katz served in several districts starting as a pre-kindergarten teacher and moving up to be a principal and superintendent at numerous schools. His experiences in diverse settings have given him multiple perspectives on various methods and practices. Dr. Katz wants to utilize these skills to better the East Windsor Regional School District. When asked what he was looking forward to the most, Dr.Katz responded “I think for me the biggest appeal is that they have a very clear and precise focus on education, and on being innovative and progressive, and trying to really provide students with opportunities for whatever they want opportunities to do. It’s about tailoring what you do to the students that you have.”


Dr. Katz advises students who are entering the field of education administration to focus on the people you surround yourself with. He states, “it’s more about finding people who understand how children learn, and having a real sound philosophy and a strong work ethic. You can learn any type of program, but some things are a little more intrinsic.” He also encourages students pursuing education administration to gain a broad perspective of education across the country to integrate different opportunities for the students.

Juan Ouvina: A Future Educator

Currently pursuing a B.A. in English and enrolled in the M.A. in Teaching Program in Subject Area and Teacher of Students with Disabilities, Juan has been inspired since the eighth grade to become a teacher. Having been discouraged by his 8th grade mathematics teacher, he was motivated to work harder and prove him wrong. From this experience, Juan completed high school and decided to pursue his B.A. in English and eventually the teaching program at Montclair State University.

Juan Ouvina_B.A./MAT

When asked why he was interested in attending Montclair State University (MSU), Juan mentioned that he loved that it was, “close enough to home but far enough to get away.” Additionally he had heard about the prestigious, diverse education program and was interested in being a member of this community. Having an interest in urban, special education, Juan knew that MSU was the right fit for him and his career goals.

As a rising senior at MSU, Juan is incredibly passionate and enthused about his decision to pursue his education at Montclair. He has made close connections with the faculty in the English department, as well as guidance from his Program Advisor Carla Engstrom. Ultimately Juan highlights that one of his favorite aspects in the program is that he is allowed to “interact with students of all different teaching disciplines.” Since his teacher education courses are not subject area focused, he is able to interact and learn from students of all concentration. Furthermore, the highlight of his experience thus far is his fieldwork experience in Newark for his Education 210 course. Juan looks forward to starting his graduate level courses next semester.

Samuel Chung: Nutrition and Food Science Program (M.S.)

When I first met with Dr. Wunderlich to discuss the Nutrition and Food Science graduate program at Montclair State University, I knew that I wanted to learn from this program as it had so much to offer in terms of my career growth. Before attending MSU to pursue a M.S. in Nutrition and Food Science, I was working at PepsiCo in the Sensory Department. Having taken classes in Nutrition and Food Science during my undergraduate years and working in the Food and Beverage industry confirmed my desire to pursue a career as a Food Scientist. The Nutrition and Food Science Program offered tremendous amounts of learning in nutrition, research, food safety, food regulation, and food businesses. One class that I am especially fond of is NUFD 587: Practicum, as I was able to develop my own product for a spice and seasoning company located in Hackensack. Not only did I gain invaluable experience in the industry, I also learned about product development, which is crucial asset for anyone pursuing a career as a Food Scientist in the Food and Beverages industry.


In addition to the material I learned in class, as a graduate assistant of the program, I had a lot of hands-on experience working in the lab, conducting research for published papers, writing published papers from start to finish, and even tutoring undergraduate students in statistics. One project that I am especially fond of is a time-temperature study that was done on lobster and shrimp to prove that the steam from microwave ovens can be used to cook seafood. Lastly, learning about research methodology and statistics has helped significantly in my career. In many of the papers and projects I worked on both as a graduate assistant and student, the professors did a wonderful job teaching us about the proper way to conduct research, including but not limited to finding the right resources for research, coming up with a research topic, finding the right methods to collect data, and writing a paper for publication. The professors also did a great job teaching us how to use SPSS, a program used for statistical analysis, and using this program for papers and projects has positively shaped my understanding of statistics.


Overall, I am grateful for the education that I received at Montclair State University. I am very thankful for the professors in the Nutrition and Food Science Department whom I worked for as a graduate assistant and learned from as a student. I am currently working at BASF as an Associate Scientist and I owe much of my career success to Montclair State University.

Tucker Moffitt: Food Systems Program

bournemouth pic 2When I found out about the Food Systems program at MSU I was very excited at the prospect of enrolling. I had, at that time, been in the food industry for over four years and very much enjoyed it, so it seemed like a smart move. Three years later I am very happy with my decision.

I have really enjoyed my classes, which I have taken over the years, particularly the ones that were conducted in the laboratories. My education covered food systems and nutrition, in a general sense as well as nutritional needs of specific individuals, such as the elderly, children, and individuals with medical issues such as diabetes. I have also learned about food safety. After taking that class I returned to my hometown and told the owners of the restaurant where I worked about problems with their food safety plans. I also helped make the appropriate changes to solve them. In other classes learned about different aspects of the food service industry, which was very useful. These classes taught me about the logistics of the construction of a restaurant, product purchasing, proper costing, menu development, and much more.

The Food Systems program at MSU gave me an amazing opportunity. I was the first Montclair State student to travel to Bournemouth University in England as part of a collaborative Food Systems exchange program. I was nervous at but also very excited the weeks before going to Bournemouth. Once there I was warmly greeted by both staff and students and made to feel at home. While there I took a class in hospitality operations, which covered all of the aspects of operating a hospitality-based business. For that program 50% of my grade was for attendance at the retreat, which is a functional restaurant on campus operated by the students. During my time at the retreat I worked with other students developing menus, costing ingredients, market research and advertising, nutritional breakdowns of recipes, and developing systems and internal controls. Another class I took at Bournemouth was Management Decision Making. The primary focus of this class was achieving Quality Assurance, as it is a much more efficient and cost-effective method of product regulation than Quality Control. The last class I took was Conference & Events Management. In this class we learned about all the different aspects of organizing large events such as weddings, festivals, conferences, and more. All of the instructors were very friendly and incredibly knowledgeable and passionate about what they taught and they all had real-world experience in their fields.

My overall experience with the Food Systems program at MSU has been great. I look forward to taking the knowledge I have gained as well as my personal experience and finding a job as a restaurant manager and eventually opening up my own restaurant.

A first-hand experience in the MAT Program: Christian Goebelbecker


When I first enrolled into the English MAT program at Montclair State University in Fall 2013 I unsure of what to expect. Despite having earned my Bachelor’s Degree in General Humanities at MSU, I found myself feeling a newfound sense of nervousness and excitement. These emotions were based on the fact that graduate school presented a new opportunity for me: to pursue a personal interest in literature and writing and to better prepare myself for a teaching career in a progressively more competitive economy. Teaching had always been an interest of mine; often fueled by my friends stating I would be a great teacher, as well as several influential professors I had during my time as an undergraduate. Given Montclair State’s brilliant program and tradition as a “teaching college”, this school was the clear choice for me when it was all said and done.

I came to the Graduate School with an understanding of what it meant to be a member of the community here at MSU. I had many mentors, friends and peers still present on campus that eased my transition into a program that I had expected to test me on multiple levels. They inspired me and gave me much needed advice in my moments of struggles.

Even though the program is challenging, there are so many aspects of English MAT program that I thoroughly enjoy. There are many experienced teachers with refreshing perspectives, excellent advisors that I am comfortable speaking with, and intensive courses that force you to consider pedagogy in new ways (ones that I had admittedly never considered before). Ultimately, I feel that Montclair State University truly prepares the teachers of the future within its halls. It is a program that is forward thinking and progressive; with teachers that understand that changing policies in schools, but also the increasing amount of multiculturalism that is becoming ever more apparent in schools at all levels in the United States.

It is because of Montclair’s comprehensive program that I know I am going to be prepared when I enter the classroom, not as a student, but as a teacher.


-Christian Goebelbecker

A Graduate Student’s Guide to School Counseling

When I first started the Counseling program at MSU last September, nerves, apprehension, excitement, and eagerness overwhelmed me. Although I was passionately drawn to the counseling profession, I walked into the program blind; not fully knowing what was ahead of me. I must admit the first few months in the program were difficult. I attempted to adjust to an unfamiliar environment, create new friendships, and apply myself in more challenging ways academically. It was scary yet provided me with the greatest learning experience. With the support of professors and peers, I am comfortable and confident now in my own shoes as a master’s student at MSU, excited to further learn and grow.

One aspect of the counseling program that I value most is the stimulating, enriching classroom environment. In each class, I am listened to with openness and respect; I feel safe enough to speak my mind and engage in critical dialogue. I do not only learn about the profession I am entering, but I am taught to be a continual learner of myself and of others. As I continue in the program, I reflect on my own development as an individual and an aspiring school counselor. It is through reflection that I gain overall happiness in my life and more confidence in my counseling skills. I believe the focus on self-awareness is an integral part of the counseling program, which is proving vital for my own growth and competence in the counseling profession.

Another essential component of the program that I believe makes for an incredible experience is the faculty. The professors in the counseling department are energetic, extremely knowledgeable, and bring with them invaluable experiences to provide more insight into the material I am learning. They teach integrity, passion, ambition, and encourage curiosity. Their support and expertise provide me direction and guidance as I continue to create and solidify my career path. My experience in the program thus far has not only led to unique, rewarding learning experiences but it has given me the opportunity to develop strong friendships. The friendships I now have with others in the program lend emotional and academic support. It is incredible to have such intelligent, supportive, humorous peers to lean on as we all embark on this journey together.

Even though I completed three semesters in the program, I believe a large portion of my experience as a future school counselor lies ahead of me. This fall I begin practicum working with elementary school students; I am beyond excited to apply what I have learned in the classroom to real-life situations. I am eager to expand my knowledge, embrace challenges, and learn about the many different hats a school counselor wears. I believe that my coursework thus far has prepared me academically and now I am just itching to get hands-on-experience in the school counseling field. My experience in the counseling program has been remarkable and I am very excited to see what the next year and a half entail!


-Maggie Walsh

Alumnae Blog Profile: Dr. Bette Simmons

As a previous graduate of Montclair State University’s MA in Counseling program, I currently serve as the Vice President of Student Development and Enrollment Management at the County College of Morris. Looking back on my experience in the Counseling program, I recall an emphasis being instilled upon students to take advantage of professional experiences offered. Taking that advice, I accepted a position at the County College of Morris to begin my career. Ultimately it was this exposure that solidified my career path in higher education, as I was able to translate what I was learning in the classroom to the practical experience of the job. Being able to connect experiences in the work setting with a structured program helped me guide my career choices and fueled my desire to further pursue counseling in student affairs.

Further reflecting on the program, I attribute my counseling abilities (the skills, knowledge, and theory) as an important foundation for the start and progression of my career. Counseling skills are essential, even as a Vice President, since students come in with issues related to interactions with faculty. Working with students regarding these problems, I try to get to the heart of the issue by implementing basic counseling to figure out what is going on in their lives. Through my interactions with students I implement my counseling skills to discover who they are and what they need to do to in order to be successful.

My fondest memory from this program, although it may sound silly to some, was walking into my introductory counseling class and seeing that I was going to be taught by an African American professor. Having gone to a small school in Pennsylvania for college, I had never been taught by someone with the same ethnic background as myself. Coming to Montclair State University and having my first class taught by someone similar to myself made all the difference. Having come from a diverse community growing up, Montclair State University made me feel as though I had rejoined the society that I was raised in.

Being a graduate of a counseling program, I appreciate and take pride in the benefits of counseling with student affairs. A counseling program fosters understanding of human behavior, which is not delivered in a master program with only a higher education administration focus. If I had to do it all over again, I would make the same choice.






Reflecting on the Graduate School Experience


10366031_10202017106932573_562396689949338365_nSearching for graduate programs during my senior year of undergraduate seems as though it happened eons ago, when in reality it was just last year. Having begun my graduate studies at Montclair State University in the fall of 2013, my first year of graduate school has flown by. Enrolling in the M.A. Counseling program with a concentration in Student Affairs/Higher Education was by far the best decision I have ever made. Although I was apprehensive at first, seeing that MSU is much larger than my undergraduate school, my trepidations were quickly quelled by how warm and welcoming the campus was.


When searching for programs, I was adamant on finding a cutting-edge program with an emphasis on diversity and multiculturalism. It was important for me to find a program that was state of the art, organized, and accepting of all cultures and identities. With that being said, Montclair State University seemed to be the logical choice. Reflecting upon my first year as a graduate student, I am overwhelmingly impressed and ecstatic of all that I have accomplished throughout my time in this program. Professors within this university push you to be the best you can be and truly help you acknowledge the impact that one person can have on the welfare of an individual and society.

In addition to the excellence experienced within the classroom, I have made so many wonderful friends and have had some amazing new experiences. Going into this program knowing I was far away from my undergraduate friends was a bit scary at first. However, I have made some of my best friends here and am so lucky to have such an amazing and supportive group of peers. With small classroom sizes, it is easy to meet new people and feel right at home. Overall, the graduate program is incredibly welcoming and student-focused. Having worked on student government in the past, I was ecstatic to see we have a Graduate Student Organization to advocate for students and program graduate student events. Needless to say, my experience here for the past year has been everything I have ever wanted and more. I cannot wait to continue into my second year of the program, even though it means graduation is approaching.

-Megan Kearney