by Janeen Madan
Alumna Sarah Borron graduated from Friedman in 2007 with a degree in Agriculture, Food and Environment. She is now a researcher on the food team at the DC-based Food & Water Watch. With jobs and internships on everyone’s minds, Sarah has lots of timely advice for Sprout readers. And she’s excited to meet current students at the upcoming Washington D.C. Alumni Networking Trip in March. For more information on attending the trip, contact Sean Devendorf at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Friedman Sprout: What was your background before attending Friedman?
Sarah Borron: Immediately before Friedman, I worked in Washington, DC, as an Emerson Hunger Fellow and then Policy Associate with the now-defunct Community Food Security Coalition. I advocated for language in the 2005 Child Nutrition Reauthorization to provide grants for Farm to School programs.
TFS: What did you enjoy most about your time at Friedman?
SB: I enjoyed the people. It’s a rare opportunity to spend your time learning with a lot of people interested in and knowledgeable about food policy, nutrition, and food itself. Beyond the classroom, I have so many good memories of meals shared, informal field trips and projects, and the student-organized spring break trip to Italy. I owe a lot of learning to my inspired Friedman friends.
TFS: How has your Friedman education helped you get to where you are today? Which classes did you find most beneficial?
SB: Collectively, my classes taught me to see issues more critically and deeply than I would have otherwise. Willie Lockeretz and Kathleen Merrigan’s courses in particular led us through the complex relationships between science and policy. In Ray Goldberg’s Agribusiness course at the Harvard Business School, we often analyzed decisions in front of the very CEOs and government officials who made them, a practice that built my confidence advocating to those in power.
TFS: Can you tell me a little bit about your career trajectory after graduating from Friedman?
SB: After graduation, I joined my husband in Las Vegas, not the most conventional geographical choice for an AFE graduate! My timing could not have been better. The food bank there was in the process of a complete organizational overhaul. As a former Emerson fellow, and with my Non-Profit Management concentration from Tufts, I was hired on to rebuild the Agency Relations and Programs departments. We worked with over two hundred agencies to distribute food, started a backpack program serving thousands of kids, joined the USDA Summer Food Service Program, and made advocacy a regular part of the food bank’s work.
I always had the goal to return to full-time food policy work and joined Food & Water Watch shortly after our return to Washington, DC, in early 2010.
TFS: What is your current role as a food researcher for Food & Water Watch?
SB: As a researcher, I research and write reports, issue briefs, blogs, and other documents to support our campaigns. I track regulations and regularly write public comments on behalf of the organization. I also serve as a knowledge base for any organizational questions on my areas of focus. I primarily focus on issues related to the industrialization of livestock agriculture, as well as food marketing to children and some related nutrition issues.
TFS: What is the most rewarding and most challenging aspect of your job?
SB: On a regular basis, my job is rewarding simply because I find these topics so interesting. On a much less frequent basis, we see a real change for the better on our issues. Those moments are rare, so, as an advocate, it’s certainly important to also enjoy the process. Perhaps the most challenging aspect of my job is that so much of what we do depends on what Congress and the Administration do.
TFS: Do you have any advice for current Friedman students, both those graduating this spring and those gearing up for summer internships?
SB: Take a hard look at available courses and consider what will be most useful to you in your career, but also more broadly about what intellectual itches you’d like to scratch before you leave the world of full-time student life.
Make as many connections as you can, and don’t hesitate to reach out to those connections and to Friedman alums as you look for internships and jobs. I look forward to meeting some of you during the DC Student and Alumni Networking Trip in March.
Janeen Madan is a first-year FPAN student by day and a kitchen fanatic by night. She is interested in international nutrition programs, is addicted to clementines and enjoys collecting old maps. Read more about her at our Meet Our Writers page.