Future dietitian shares his career journey

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James Shepherd

Future dietitian shares his career journey

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Meet Health Hero James Shepherd

James Shepherd is a student in the MS-PD program, a coordinated master’s in nutrition degree with a dietetic internship, and is interested in nutrition and wellness education.

What inspired you to pursue a master’s in nutrition degree?

My passion has always been culinary, which led me to a career in food service. My first degree was in tourism, convention and event management.

I later obtained a culinary degree to help supplement this degree and be able to focus specifically on food service. I worked in the food service and hospitality industry for about a decade.

Around this time, I felt unfulfilled and a need to do “more.” I quit my job and took some time off, thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail and reflecting on how to be more fulfilled in my career.

Having briefly majored in dietetics in my undergrad, I revisited this idea and decided to go back to school to complete this degree, and that’s where I’m at today.

Have you had to overcome any challenges in your academic journey?

After graduating high school in 2000, I joined the Army National Guard. My first undergraduate experience was interrupted by a deployment to Iraq in 2005.

During this deployment, I was diagnosed with an aggressive case of ulcerative colitis and was quickly medically discharged from the military.

The following two years were a challenge spent managing this diagnosis, which resulted in multiple surgeries and the re-sectioning of my GI tract in 2007.

These complications and procedures interrupted my academic career by more than a year.

Have you participated in any nutrition research?

For my capstone, I conducted a nutrition intervention with cooking demonstrations focused on the dietary recommendations of the National Diabetes Prevention Program. I am currently in the process of evaluating its impact.

Tell us about your dietetic internship experience.

I am currently participating in my dietetic internship. I have completed my food service rotation and am now at the OSU Basic Needs Center fulfilling part of my community nutrition requirements.

Have you received a scholarship? If so, how has it affected your life and your studies?

A huge reason I chose to join the National Guard was the tuition assistance. Being the oldest of two in a single-parent family, I needed to find a way to finance my college education if it was going to be an option.

What do you think of your experience at OSU so far?

Having moved from Indiana and not knowing anyone or any family in the area, I’ve had a lot of support from my advisors and administration within my dietetics program.

What are your post-college dreams?

I entered the Masters of Science in Nutrition – Professional Dietetics program with the hopes of understanding better the direction I want to go in dietetics through the various experiences throughout my rotations.

I would actually say the capstone and my experience as a graduate teaching assistant have stoked my interest in program development and nutrition and wellness education.