From mom’s kitchen to Commencement: a passion realized

Graduating food science major looks forward to future, reminisces on memories made

Coug+senior+Danika+Toop+will+graduate+with+a+bachelors+degree+in+food+science+on+May+7.+Shortly+after%2C+they+will+start+their+next+adventure+working+for+Atomo+Coffee+in+Seattle.++%0A

DOROTHY GREENHALGE

Coug senior Danika Toop will graduate with a bachelor’s degree in food science on May 7. Shortly after, they will start their next adventure working for Atomo Coffee in Seattle.

Josie Goodrich, Evergreen reporter

When most people say they have a passion for food, they usually mean they love restaurant hopping or showing off their culinary skills in the kitchen. For graduating senior Danika Toop, it’s all about the science behind the meal. 

Along with their fellow Coug classmates, 20-year-old Toop will graduate with a bachelor’s degree in food sciences next Saturday. Toop said their studies have focused on the sensory side of food formulation, the multi-step process that takes a food idea from conception to the grocery aisle.

“If you change a product formulation, you want to know if your product still tastes the same, or if it improves the quality,” Toop said. “You can do consumer testing and then present it to the consumer, collect that data and see if it passes or fails, and decide if you want to continue with that type of formulation.”

Toop said they grew up in the kitchen with their mom. They always enjoyed cooking, but never wanted the high intensity pressure that comes with being a chef. Toop learned about their unique major through her older sister Demri Toop, who is a 2019 Coug alumna. 

“It kind of combines my culinary skills with my science skills and I was like this is super interesting and cool and I haven’t really seen anything else that’s like that,” Toop said. “So I just started and ever since my first Intro to Food Science class I’ve absolutely loved it.”

After graduation, Toop plans to move to the Seattle area where they will work for Atomo Coffee. They said Atomo Coffee specializes in sustainable coffee made from date pits, which reduces the amount of water used and carbon emissions created in the journey from field to coffee mug.

“I’m super excited,” Toop said. “I’m gonna be a product technician, so I’m basically on the line, making all of the coffee. I will be roasting the beans and brewing the coffee.” 

The company has a program that allows people to shadow the product developers, and Toop plans to do that so that they can become a product developer themselves in about a year. They would learn how to formulate new products or reformulate existing products to be a higher quality, they said.

Toop is a member of the Chi Omega sorority, and said they are thankful for the connections that have come out of it. One of their favorite experiences was bid day, the day they joined their sorority and met all of the other women in the house for the first time. 

“There were so many other women just waiting to support me, embrace me and just take me in as another person to care about; it was just super sweet,” Toop said. “So many people just kind of introduced themselves; I could just feel so much love from everybody. I ended up seeing my big on that day, and it’s just crazy because now we’re roommates and we’ve made it this far.”

This year Toop joined WSU’s PERIOD. chapter, a mutual-aid organization dedicated to addressing menstrual inequity and period poverty. Toop’s partner, WSU junior Lucy Perry, is the co-chair of PERIOD. and encouraged Toop to get more involved.

Toop said they have really enjoyed being a member, and wish they had gotten more involved on campus during their early years at WSU. They advised other Cougs to get involved early on, as it can be extremely rewarding. 

Perry and Toop had their first date at WSU’s Queer Prom back in October 2021, and have been together ever since, Perry said. Although Perry has another year at WSU, she plans to stay with Toop this summer in Seattle while working an internship.

Toop was offered a full ride scholarship for the masters program here at WSU, but turned it down as she was ready to enter the workforce, Perry said. Perry admires the passion Toop has for their major and it inspired Perry to be more focused on her own academics. 

“I’m insanely proud. What stands out the most to me is the passion they have for food science, even when it comes to cooking,” Perry said. “They just love to cook stuff for me, which is so sweet, and they care so much about how food tastes. It’s so admirable and something I’ve never had thought about before, but seeing someone that passionate about their major has been genuinely inspiring.”