In February 2022, POKS Spices was featured in the Cornell Chronicle by the Cornell University where our founder Abena got her first introduction to the field of food science. Part of the POKS Spices story involves Abena's food science background which started at Cornell University.
Following the release of the article, Abena shared that, "In 2007, during my summer research fellowship at Yale University doing biochemistry related-work, my mentor said, “Abena if you want to do a PhD, do it in a field that you will be excited to wake up to go into the lab for, every morning”. At that time, my plan was to declare biochemistry as my major the following year, and pursue a PhD in Biochemistry after college. My mentor’s words struck me, and I knew then that post-graduate education in biochemistry was not that path for me. However, I was not sure what path that would be. All I knew then was that I did well in the sciences, but my passion was in food.
At the end of the summer research fellowship program, there was a job and career fair held, and I chanced upon the Cornell University table. In speaking with the reps about my passion and interest, they mentioned that had a program called Food Science, which got me very excited. This was my first time hearing about an academic field called Food Science. Not only did Cornell have a Food Science program, they also had a Food Science Summer’s Scholar’s program. So, I applied for this program and was accepted as a PepsiCo Summer’s Scholar in 2008, working in Dr Susan Henry’s lab. This was my first formal introduction into Food Science, specifically into Food Microbiology. That Cornell experience confirmed for me that Food Science was that path I could wake up everyday to go into the lab for. Although I did not go ahead to pursue a PhD in Food Science, I did get a Master's degree in Food Science.
Over a decade later, I took a certification course in Project Management at Cornell, followed by a Women’s Entrepreneurship Certification through the Bank of America Institute for Women’s Entrepreneurship at Cornell, after a friend shared this program with me. This program changed the trajectory of my passion project POKS Spices."
Learn about Abena's entrepreneurial journey as featured by Cornell University, now that you know the role Cornell played in the POKS Spices story.