Student Spotlight: Allyson Gerczak
By Darian Leddy
Like many students, Allyson (Ally) Gerczak entered her freshman year wondering where the next four years at the University of Minnesota would take her. She knew she had an interest in business, so maybe she would study economics and join a business club. She also enjoyed taking sustainability classes in high school, so perhaps she would apply to the College of Biological Sciences. Ally was passionate about both business and science and wanted to find a way to incorporate both of them into her future. That was when she discovered the Department of Bioproducts and Biosystems Engineering.
Ally came from her hometown of Green Bay, WI looking to go somewhere with more opportunities and people. She ultimately ended up choosing to attend the U of M. She started studying engineering because she wasn’t sure what she wanted to do quite yet, and engineering was a very general area of study. During her freshman year, she attended the major and minor expo and discovered the sustainable systems management (SSM) major. It was the perfect blend of Ally’s passion for sustainability and commerce.
Now in her last year of school, Ally will graduate in Spring 2019 with a B.S. degree in SSM with an emphasis in sustainable products business management and a minor in management and sustainability. Ally has enjoyed all of her classes throughout her time in the department. She has not only learned many new ideas and processes within her coursework, but she has also made many lasting connections with her professors, classmates, and advisors. It was actually from the help of one of her supportive advisors, Marlee Schlief, the department’s student services and external relations coordinator, that Ally was able to find her internship turned newfound passion where she worked at this summer.
Ally started as an intern at Vikings Forest Products this past summer in Eden Prairie, MN. Vikings Forest Products is a company that buys and sells different forest products all across the nation and Canada. She spent most of her time working in the crane mat department, which sells road mats to construction companies to use as temporary roads. She helped the team when they ran into problems, paid the trucking companies, and made sure everything was running smoothly. The company also showed her its different operations, but her interest remained in the crane mat department.
Many of Ally’s coworkers at her internship actually graduated with the same degree she is currently pursuing. According to Ally, they all agree that their studies in the Department of Bioproducts and Biosystems Engineering have helped prepare them for their jobs immensely. Her time studying sustainable systems management has made her into a hard-working, adaptable, and efficient worker. Ally plans to continue working at Vikings Forest Products this school year as a part-time intern. She is very excited to keep working for this company for she feels like she is always learning when she is working there, which she finds very important, even after she is out of the classroom.
Student scholarship recognition
Ally is a recipient of the C.J. Mulrooney Memorial Scholarship this year. She and other student scholarship recipients will be recognized at this year's Department of Bioproducts and Biosystems Engineering Showcase at the scholarship recognition luncheon. Alumni, donors, industry professionals, and friends of the department are welcome to attend. RSVP by October 18