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UM Graduate Student Highlights Nutrition Education for Athletes at 3MT

Rebecca Henry, a student in the University of Mississippi’s Coordinated Program in Dietetics, recently came in second in the master’s category during the Three-Minute Thesis competition hosted by the UM Graduate School.

UM master’s student Rebecca Henry presents her research poster at the annual Food and Nutrition Conference and Expo. Submitted photo

Her research examined a food education and food security intervention with the Calhoun City High School football team to determine whether food education increased the players’ nutrition knowledge.

Henry conducted the research, funded by the UM Foundation’s Food and Nutrition Security Support Fund, through the Office of Food and Nutrition Security under the direction of David H. Holben, professor of nutrition, Gillespie Distinguished Scholar and OFNS director.

“What we presented was that the food education program did significantly increase their sports nutrition knowledge,” Henry said. “We concluded that it’s warranted, that nutrition education should be incorporated into sports in high school. There’s absolutely a great need there, for sure.”

Henry, a recent recipient of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Foundation General Scholarship, attended the academy’s annual conference in Philadelphia, where she presented her poster from the Fueling Fitness study. She also attended conference sessions focusing on pediatric dietetics.

“I went to several of the talks – educational sessions from dietitians that work in children’s hospitals, NICUs and in other settings that do research, especially in that NICU population,” she said. “I think that I probably would continue doing research, but likely more in quality improvement.”

Henry is regarded highly by Yunhee Chang, associate professor and graduate program director in the Department of Nutrition and Hospitality Management.

“Rebecca Henry is definitely one of the brightest students we’ve had in our program,” Chang said. “She is a strong student in the classroom, as well as during her professional training in the community. It seems that excellence is in her nature.

“She is the type of student who scores 120 in the exams because while she is gifted, she keeps a humble attitude about learning. I am looking forward to seeing her making differences in people’s lives and becoming a leader in our profession.”

As part of the coordinated program, Henry is serving an internship at Traceway Retirement Center in Tupelo, doing clinical rotations.

“Seeing how it differs from acute clinical in a hospital setting versus long-term care has been really interesting to me, as well as seeing a shift in focus from short-term outcomes to more long-term outcomes and quality of life,” Henry said.

Henry knew she would ultimately end up working with children, even as an undergraduate, and hopes to go into pediatrics in the dietetics field. For three weeks in October, she participated in rotations at Batson Children’s Hospital in Jackson, spending one week in the NICU, one week in the pediatric in-patient clinic and one week in outpatient clinics.

“I really didn’t know what I wanted to do,” Henry said. “I just knew that I loved nutrition and I wanted to help attain a higher quality of life. As I’ve kind of gotten further into my study into supervised practice now, I want to make the biggest impact that I can, and I personally think that that is intervening at the earliest possible stages.

“So that’s where pediatrics comes in for me. There is something so special about it when I was down there at Batson, and it is just so touching. … It just kind of ignited an extra spark in me.”

To learn more about the Master of Food and Nutrition Services degree program or the Coordinated Program in Dietetics, visit http://nhm.olemiss.edu/.

The School of Applied Sciences, home to the Department of Nutrition and Hospitality Management, offers professional preparation programs that integrate academic study, clinical training, creative research, service-learning and community outreach, leading to the development of leaders whose professional endeavors will improve health and well-being.

By Jessica Shipp

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