Food technologist serves her alma mater
15 July, 2020, 2:32 pm
Food manufacturing processes always intrigued Nileshni Prasad. She wondered how vegetables were packed and frozen, and how fruits and sauces were packed in cans, ready for consumption.
A lot of people couldn’t answer her questions, and some of her curiosity was only satisfied when she took up Home Economics as a subject in high school.
She then decided to specialise in the field from Year 11 by taking up Food Technology as a subject.
“I found Food Technology very interesting. It looks at the techniques involved in production, processing, preservation, packaging, labelling, quality management, and distribution of food products.”
“I was also advised by my family and teachers that there were many career opportunities if I wanted to pursue further studies in this field. The food industry has numerous job opportunities and having studied Food Technology. One could become a Lab Technician, Quality Controller, Research and Development Officer and so on.”
Prasad enrolled in the Diploma in Food Technology programme at the Fiji Institute of Technology (FIT), now known as the Fiji National University’s (FNU) College of Engineering, Science and Technology (CEST) in 2007.
“I was excited about the new journey ahead. Life as a student was great. I made many friends and learnt many important life lessons, such as how to be independent.”
In her final semester, she had to complete an industrial attachment in order to graduate. For this, she joined Punja & Sons Ltd at the Lautoka branch.
“In Semester Two of 2008, I joined Punja & Sons Ltd as a Lab Attachee, and after my graduation in 2009, I was given a permanent position of a Laboratory Technician. I was responsible for conducting Chemical and Microbial Tests as well as implementing and maintaining the ISO standards among other tasks.”
“I worked there for three years before resigning due to personal commitment.”
Following a break of two years, Prasad started applying for jobs and was offered a position at FNU as a Lab Demonstrator in CEST’s School of Sciences in 2013. Since then, she has been a loyal employee of FNU.
Over the years, Prasad decided to further her education and enrolled in a Bachelor of Science (Food Technology and Chemistry) programme at FNU which she completed in 2019. In the same year, she was promoted to the position of Tutor at the Department of Food Science and Home Economics under the School of Applied Sciences.
“As a Tutor, I assist the departmental staff in the delivery of the laboratory demonstrations and other related activities for the programme as well as managing students and resources. I also prepare teaching aids for the laboratory, ensuring that all the equipment and materials needed for a session are well prepared. In addition, I ensure that all OHS policies are observed.”
“I am delighted I get to serve my alma mater. FNU has helped pave my career path. They provide useful resources. The lecturers were very helpful, which is why we had the opportunity to learn better. FNU has also been very supportive of my education and had allowed me to upgrade my qualification.”
Prasad credits her success to God and her family and friends.
“With God, everything is possible. Being a full-time working mum and a part-time student comes with lots of responsibilities, but nothing is impossible when you have faith in God, believe in yourself and have a supportive family. My husband plays a key role in my progress.”
In her advice to students, she said, “work hard and never give up, be a team player and have self-confidence.”
Prasad is currently pursuing a Postgraduate Diploma in Food Science and Technology.