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New nutrition program surges at Stephen F. Austin State in Nacogdoches

Stephen F. Austin State University

New focus areas in the food and nutrition program at Stephen F. Austin State University are attracting an influx of students interested in a wide variety of careers in nutrition and health.

The School of Human Sciences expanded its food, nutrition and dietetics program this year. Students now choose from several focus areas: dietetics courses with a registered dietitian focus, pre-professional courses with a registered dietitian focus, and food and nutrition coursework with a non-registered dietitian focus.

SFA’s School of Human Sciences’ director Lynda Martin says students are finding many more opportunities in nutrition-related employment.

The end goal of the program is no longer exclusive to becoming a registered dietitian in a hospital. Martin says a new focus of the program is directed toward community-based professions that are more open-ended.

“As the world is changing, there are other students who want to go into other areas, such as working with chefs on healthy menus, working with spas, and disseminating information about nutrition in journals. There are a lot of other areas that students can pursue besides the clinical area,” Martin said.

SFA’s dietetic internship director Darla O’Dwyer says the school has hit a high of 110 students enrolled in the program. She says the program normally graduates about 10 students a year, but it’s now on track to turn out many more.

“This is the highest count that we’ve had so far since I’ve been here,” O’Dwyer said, an associate professor who has worked at SFA for 13 years. “It’s been steadily increasing because the field of nutrition and the interest in it has been steadily increasing.”

O’Dwyer collects data on graduate employment. She says so far students haven’t had any difficulty finding jobs in their field.

In addition to the new focus area, the program launched a new minor: nutrition in health care.

Chuck Smith brings more than 30 years' broadcast and media experience to Red River Radio. He began his career as a radio news reporter and transitioned to television journalism and newsmagazine production. Chuck studied mass communications at Southern Arkansas University in Magnolia and motion picture / television production at the University of California at Los Angeles. He has also taught writing for television at York Technical College in Rock Hill, South Carolina and video / film production at Centenary College of Louisiana, Shreveport.