May 18, 2017

Ag Career Profile: Dietetics and Human Nutrition Specialist

From the 2017 mAGazine

Spotlight: Tammy Stephenson

Originally from the Boston area, it was a chance to play collegiate soccer that brought Tammy Stephenson to the University of Kentucky, but it was her passion for nutrition and the opportunity to teach that kept her here. Now in her 16th year of teaching, Stephenson's ability to engage others has made the assistant professor of dietetics and human nutrition a student favorite. She has been recognized as a UK Alumni Association Great Teacher and a Provost's Outstanding Teacher.

Q: How did you get into nutrition?
A: When I came to UK, I thought I wanted to major in physical therapy or something in health sciences. I never thought of nutrition as a major, until I took the introductory nutrition class taught by Dr. Kristin Mercer. I just fell in love with that class and wanted to learn more about it. I feel like life has come full circle, because that's the class I have taught since I started teaching. It's neat for me to hear students say that class is the reason they majored in dietetics, because it's the same for me.


Q: What is your teaching philosophy?
A: Teaching is about developing or offering meaningful opportunities to our students both within and outside of the classroom. I try to think of ways I can truly engage a student to make them want to learn instead of just memorizing a whole bunch of content to take a test. I want them to come away with skills they will use in some way in their future. I know not all of my students are going to graduate with dietetics or human nutrition degrees, and they need skills like communication and writing, so I try to give them some of those skills.

Q: Do you have any memorable student stories you want to share?
A: To me, it's the little things. It's when I first meet a student, and they don't have confidence and they don't know what they want to do with their life. Then a few years later, they come back to me, and they've gotten into dental school. If I can even have just a small impact on their life, to me that's the best part of my job, and hopefully, it will be my legacy.

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