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Get-Involved Spirit Has Served Kelley Shanahan Well; Goal To Be Registered Dietitian In Sight

Story By:
Paul Miller | Director of Strategic Communications and Community Relations
Kelley Shanahan '23
Kelley volunteered to start and maintain a community garden. A portion of the garden's harvest was donated to the college’s on-campus food pantry.

Kelley Shanahan ’23 came to Keene State not to dip her toe in the proverbial water, or even to jump into the deep end. Instead, she went straight to cliff diving.

That is to say, she took the full-immersion option.

In her time at Keene State, Kelley, a health sciences major with an option in nutrition, has amassed a list of student-life involvement — a mix of college clubs, organizations, and community public-service roles — that scrolls endlessly, like ticker tape.

Her goal hasn’t changed since she began thinking about career possibilities, in high school in Seekonk, Massachusetts, which is to be a licensed Registered Dietician. She wants to work with a focus on community and sustainability and said Keene State has prepared her wonderfully to do just that.

Kelley Shanahan (1)

“I’ve become more interested in learning about community health and how changing the population’s diets can influence the health of the earth. It’s truly a great pair.”

“Public health is a broad topic area,” she adds. “The curriculum here exposes you to a little bit of everything. Although my major is in nutrition, I discovered my love for public policy, teaching nutrition education, marketing, food insecurity, food science, and medical nutrition therapy.”

Her hard work and academic success led to her being accepted by the University of New Hampshire for its master’s program with dietetic internship this fall. Upon successful completion of that program, Kelley will be the licensed Registered Dietitian she has long imagined.

“Kelley is one of the most remarkable students I have worked with,” says Kristin Brooks, Keene State’s internship coordinator, “and she will do amazing things as an alum. She is an engaged and focused student and her passion for helping others shines through in all that she does.”

As an intern with the Keene Housing Authority, Kelley established a youth community garden program and engaged with Keene Housing residents to decrease food insecurity in low-income neighborhoods. Most recently, as an alternative medicine intern working for a certified area acupuncturist and herbalist, Kelley completed 100 hours conducting marketing and nutrition research.

All of my experiences deepened my understanding of the importance of mindful listening, building partnerships within the community, and how these practices have a direct impact on compassionate and inclusive nutrition care.”

– Kelley Shanahan

Other roles include tutor, student ambassador, and student research assistant. As a gardener for the Keene State student food pantry, the Hungry Owl, Kelley planned, organized, and maintained an on-campus garden. One of her research projects was to assist in the development and analysis of focus groups around food insecurity for Keene State students.

Kelley also belongs to the College’s Outing Club and Garden Club, and she will graduate with a minor in sustainability studies.

“All of my experiences deepened my understanding of the importance of mindful listening, building partnerships within the community, and how these practices have a direct impact on compassionate and inclusive nutrition care,” Kelley says. “Most importantly, I recognize that rural communities are not monoliths – each one has its own unique needs, barriers, and facilitators.”

Away from it all, Kelley enjoys “anything outdoorsy” such as hiking, rock climbing, rollerblading, and hammocking, as well as cooking and gardening. That fact that Keene State is at the foot of a “fun downtown” and nearby hiking trails abound, made for a nice bonus in her decision to attend Keene State, she says.

To students considering Keene State, or any college, she suggests being “gentle with yourself during the application process, which can be a stressful time, and be guided by your intuition.”

The all-in, cliff-diving approach … that’s optional.

To learn more about Keene State’s Health Sciences program, click here

To learn more about Keene State’s Sustainability Studies program, click here

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