Meet Fangruo (Ingrid) Zhou, N23

School: Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy

Degree: Master’s in Food and Nutrition Policy and Programs

Home: I’m originally from China—but I’m a road-trip enthusiast, so to me, home is wherever I can drive to.

What is the most important thing you’ve learned at the Friedman School?

Once I start to listen, the magic begins to happen. I’m the kind of person who likes to be on the stage; sometimes it’s hard for me to step back and listen to what other people have to say, see what other people have to bring. In the psychology and social science classes I’ve taken here, I’ve seen that when we are designing a project for a community, we have to be there and listen in order to find out what a community wants and needs. We can’t just come in thinking we’re bringing an expert perspective. I’ve learned that that’s a widely applicable principle.

Complete the following sentence: “Because of Tufts, I…”

Believe I can achieve whatever I can dream. I feel like I have unconditional support here. I might come up with a crazy idea and go to a professor to explain it, and they’ll say, “Well, here are my concerns. Also, here’s a list of people you can talk to. Now go out and do it.”

For example, I had this idea to visit a Walmart and a Dollar Tree store in each state, interview people at the stores, and take pictures of their shopping carts. I knew it was crazy, but my professors encouraged me. It’s not an ordinary project, and right now it’s more of an art project than anything else, but I know it’s something I’ll continue to work on even after graduation, and I would never have believed I could do it without the support—and practical advice—I’ve gotten here. 

What’s next?

I took an entrepreneurship class last year, and through that, I did a summer internship at a food startup in Maryland called Maspanadas, working in quality control and research development. After graduating, I’ll go back to working for them on the food science side.

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