UH's thorough degree plans: grounds for bragging

Amy Ludermann

Guest Columnist

Every University of Houston student should be proud of his major and the department will ultimately produce his degree.

The rigorous involvement and dedication of each student in the various academic programs are necessary to build a strong reputation for this campus and to ultimately strengthen the value of our degrees.

We all know that the UH Health Law program was recently ranked first in the nation. You often hear about the strong rankings of our College of Engineering and College of Hotel and Restaurant Manage-ment. The Creative Writing Program, the natural sciences and social sciences all have great reputations. But did you know that UH has one of the top nutrition programs around?

It was just last summer when I declared nutrition as my major, and the department has not stopped impressing me. Barbara Stewart, the head of the department, teaches several of the classes and is a very progressive professor. She allows students flexibility in their learning styles without lowering the quality or amount of material learned. She is also a strong leader for the students.

Stewart is not the nutrition department's only asset. The professors in the department are dedicated, knowledgeable and very accessible to students. The department is still relatively small, but this also gives the students a great sense of belonging.

Many students see each other in multiple classes every semester until graduation. For me, this has led to some very close friendships that will follow me long past college graduation.

The nutrition department has an excellent curriculum for the students to follow. When you look at the basic nutrition knowledge required for our field, the problems which face many of today's nutrition graduates and the outlook of the field within the work force, the required classes could not be better.

Obviously, you could not be a dietitian without basic nutrition and assessment knowledge. But the clinical, commercial and private aspects of the practice are also very well covered. For example, one big problem dietitians everywhere complain about is the low compensation within the field. The department has tackled this issue head-on by requiring business-oriented classes for each student.

We learn what needs to be done within our field to better market the work of a nutritionist. We have also learned the importance of research. The need for dietitians to produce leading research is more central than ever in proving the importance of our work and in overcoming the compensation issue. This also prepares us for roles as advocates of our careers after graduation.

The nutrition department not only gets its graduates well-equipped to do the job, it also prepares them for the cutting-edge changes that are taking place in the field.

However, the required classes are not the only thing preparing students within the department. The department frequently hires individuals who are currently working in very specialized areas of nutrition to teach classes in their areas of specialty. This benefits our students in many ways: Not only do they gain more detailed knowledge on that topic of interest, but they also have close access to dietitians and nutritionists at work in our field. This gives updated information on many different issues and challenges, along with an excellent variety of perspectives from the field.

We are lucky at UH to have such progressive departments. All of us should learn a few of the "bragging rights" for our majors and help to spread the word.

Luedermann is a member of the University of Houston Student Foundation, an organization that works closely with the Houston Alumni Organization to prepare students for future roles in support of the University of Houston.

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