My first year at Keene State, I was shellshocked with college life. I was an hour and a half from home and my family, and – wow! – I had all this freedom. Academics brought an even bigger shock: I’d arrived knowing I wanted to study nutrition, but I had no idea how much science would be involved. General Chemistry. Statistics. Organic Chemistry. Anatomy and Physiology. The course load was heavy with chemistry and biology. I really struggled – and thought I’d never be good at science, because I couldn’t make the connection between science and nutrition.
Later, after I earned my BS and began more hands-on work in the nutrition field, I got it. In a clinical setting, the physiological aspects of nutrition made sense. My internship supervisors noted that I was good at the math, and encouraged me to pursue clinical work. That first-year student who was afraid of science became a nutritionist specializing in congenital heart disease and heart-lung transplantation at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. A few years later, when my husband (Bill Dunn ’94) and I moved back to New Hampshire, I challenged myself again, taking a temporary teaching job at Keene State that led to a tenure-track position and a PhD from UNH.
These days, I teach two upper-level courses for senior health science/nutrition majors. Medical Nutrition Therapy covers the physiology of illness and how it affects nutrition. The other, Nutritional Biochemistry, is the bring-it-all-together capstone nutrition science course. I love teaching these classes in part because I know many of the students are in the same boat I was in as an undergraduate. For three years, they take an assortment of science courses, and think, Someone bring it all together!
I hope I’m that person – that I bring everything they’ve studied together in culminating courses that look at the biology, the physiology, the chemistry, and the nutrition and connect it all. For me, it’s all about making those connections and helping students understand the science behind the nutrition. Students walk out of those courses excited and, best of all, they get it.