Chris Endris CC’81 feels a strong need to support Rutgers and its students, whether it be financially or through volunteering her time and knowledge. She recently shared with us how much her experience as a food science major at Rutgers has benefited her life and career and why it is important for her to give back.
What drew you to attend Rutgers and study food science?
I was drawn to Rutgers because I had a strong background in the 4-H Foods & Nutrition program and knew a 4-Her a year older than me who majored in food science. That was my first exposure to the major. Also, one of my older brothers had graduated from Rutgers and my dad also attended University College (night school).
Briefly describe your educational and career path since graduating from Rutgers.
After graduating from Cook College in 1981, I began my career as a technical service rep. at Virginia Dare Extract Co. in Brooklyn, New York. I also began my MBA in marketing part time at Rutgers in January 1982, graduating in May 1986. By that time, I had made the switch to food ingredient sales rep. at Mid America Farms, based in Springfield, Missouri, selling dairy and dehydrated ingredients to food processors and manufacturers. My territory included New Jersey, New York, eastern Pennsylvania, Maryland and Virginia, and I worked from home. After 3 years there, I was recruited by Kraft Food Ingredients of Memphis, Tennessee to be territory manager for a similar territory selling Kraft products as food ingredients, i.e. dehydrated cheeses, cream cheese, processed and natural cheeses, margarine, caramels, marshmallows, mayo, BBQ sauce, etc. I was with Kraft for 8 years when the territory demands were incompatible with family life, and I left the food industry.
How has your experience at Rutgers and as a food science major benefited you in your life and career?
I felt that the Rutgers food science program was highly respected in the food industry when I was working. My education in food science provided me with a strong scientific background, which enables me to look objectively at, and better interpret, many of the recent food trends that currently abound. This was also very beneficial during the 10 years that I was the leader of a 4-H foods club.
Is there a particular experience or professor from your time as a student at Rutgers that has been notably impactful or memorable for you?
I was impacted by several professors of food science while at Rutgers. The first being Dr. Libby Stier, who was my undergrad advisor. Dr. Stier was a role model for the women in the program, as well as den mother to us all. She mentored us, encouraged our participation in the Institute of Food Technologists, and shared her industry knowledge and contacts. Dr. Roy Morse was also very inspiring, given all his experience in the food industry. His classes were always full of real life lessons that he shared. Dr. Dick Kleyn and Dr. Joe Leeder were my coaches on the dairy product evaluation team and did influence a career path that was very dairy food oriented.
You had two daughters graduate from Rutgers, one of whom followed in your footsteps as a food science major. Has that drawn you closer to the department?
The fact that both my daughters attended Rutgers and my youngest majored in food science did draw me closer to the department. I was able to see the changes made in the curriculum, as well as how much remained the same. It was also interesting to see how the dynamics of the department had changed over time. It was while attending an alumni mixer with my daughter that I realized the need for more alumni involvement with the current students and how alumni experience and industry expertise could benefit the students. Although I’m not currently involved in the industry, I’m happy to share whatever experience I have. I also realize the need to get more alumni involved, as they all have valuable experiences to share.
When did you join the Food Science Advisory Board and the Rutgers Gardens Events Committee? What compelled you to do so?
I joined the Food Science Advisory Board at the request of Laura Rokosz CC’84. I hope that I may provide a different perspective, especially that of being the parent of a recent grad. I became involved with the Rutgers Gardens Party through my involvement with the Garden Club of New Jersey (GCNJ). I’m a longtime garden club member, being active in both local and state clubs. The GCNJ has strong ties to Rutgers Gardens and, through it, I came to know Bruce Crawford and help out at the Rutgers Gardens Plant Sale. That, in turn, led to a Gardens Party Committee member asking me to help with that. Although I haven’t worked for many years, I have volunteered significantly and am happy to give my time if I can be of use.
Which funds or units at Rutgers do you prefer to support financially? What is it about those designations that inspires your support?
In the past, we usually supported Rutgers Gardens financially since it is mostly supported by members and donors. The Gardens are a valuable university resource that provide a much-needed natural respite for both the university and the public. I also make other contributions to other areas within Rutgers as they arise. It’s important to me to support Rutgers because I can remember needing support while I was attending Rutgers. I also feel that I received an excellent education in food science and was well prepared for my career.
How important do you feel it is to give back to your school?
It’s important to me to give back to Rutgers, so that others may be given the opportunity of a Rutgers education and experience.