When I was 25, I became a police officer, and a few years after that I became one of the department’s fitness coordinators. We had a little bit of guidance on nutrition, but I didn't have the background information to actually give substantial help to our officers. When I came across Tufts Certificate Programs, I thought – with my busy schedule, my job and my family – that I could manage the workload. I also found out that my agency had a tuition assistance program, so that made it easier to complete the certificate.
I liked that I could listen to lectures while I was driving and access the material from anywhere. It was meaningful to be able to interact with students -- not in a classroom, but all over the world. The instructors also understand that the certificate isn’t the only thing going on in our lives, and if I had an issue, they were very understanding and flexible.
Once I completed the first class, I put together a basic presentation on how to plan a healthy diet for our officers. I ordered some basic pamphlets, passed them out, and offered to talk to them just to give them the basics. Some people volunteered for that, and then I made it a mandatory part of our new recruit program. Everyone that comes in now gets some sort of nutritional guidance. Our fitness test is now mandatory as well and people are passing it at a higher rate. And now that I’ve completed the program, I’ve started an LLC to do nutrition coaching.
COVID-19 has kind of exposed the health care system, the lack of nutritional knowledge in society. This virus is affecting everyone, but it's especially affecting people who aren't already healthy – the underdeveloped communities that don't really get that background on how to eat. Eventually, when I have some time, I want to give back by teaching people who wouldn't be able to receive this information and get them on a path of healthy living.
A love of learning inspired me to pursue a Tufts education after 12 years of business & brand management experience with two Fortune 500 corporations: Colgate Palmolive and Tyson Foods. As I was deciding to begin the certificate program, my work was focused on discovering disruptive food solutions and I wanted to be better informed about areas that were critical to the future of food. Nutrition and sustainability are personal passion points of mine, particularly in the innovation space, and helped fuel my work on consumer solutions that merged convenience and nutrition.
I'm really glad I decided to join the program. The three courses that I took were Principles of Nutrition Science (NUTC 200), Nutrition-Related Consumer Marketing (NUTC 205), and Sustainability and the Food Consumer (NUTC 263). I customized my certificate program around topics that interested me and would allow me to immediately apply what I learned in both my personal life and my professional career. I enjoyed the flexibility of live and recorded online learning, especially after having earned my Master's degree from Indiana University in a similar system.
My last day with Tyson was March 7, 2020 -- and then the following week, the world shut down. Rather than see this moment as a challenge, I believed there were multiple ways to create change and I started with two projects in mind. One was a consulting business where I was able to work with small businesses, both local and national, on projects that were more nutrition- and sustainability-centered. I’m able to apply my expertise in product commercialization and innovation through a lens that matters to me and to these businesses.
My second project was to build a brand focused on improving our relationships with food. I knew microgreens were nutrient-dense & fast-growing in popularity, so I decided to use them as an introduction to growing your own food. I built this brand from the ground up and so far it’s received really strong engagement. The business is still very much in its infancy, but the Tufts program allowed me to feel comfortable with building a brand that could speak to consumers who are interested in the idea of growing their food and of taking care of yourself through food.
In my next phase of lifelong learning, I'm training to become a Tai Chi instructor and completing a Functional Medicine Health Coach certification. I have a lot of irons in the fire, but in every challenging moment, you can always find individuals seeking balance. That’s what I’m focusing on – helping others find balance in a positive way.
I trained as a clinical dietitian, then spent ten years working as a nutritionist for the dairy and meat industries in New Zealand and Australia. I then dabbled in consulting and thought it would be useful to expand my skill set, so I embarked on an MBA and worked in a business development role for a few years. After a while I started to miss nutrition so got back into consulting, providing nutrition expertise to food business. I was feeling a little bit rusty on the nutrition front, so I looked around for courses I could do online and in my own time. The Friedman School really stood out because the curriculum was very relevant to my work. Tufts also has an excellent reputation globally, which appealed to me as well.
As far as courses go, Nutrition-Related Consumer Marketing (NUTC 205) and Nutrition and Innovation (NUTC 280) provide very practical tools. Because I’m helping companies with their nutrition marketing and product innovation, those were very relevant and provided some great resources, for example, on developing nutrition communications strategies, and creating and testing new product concepts. Sustainability and the Food Consumer (NUTC 263) was a great way to get up to speed with the main issues and the course integrates three of my favorite topics -- nutrition, consumer behavior, and economics -- as well as the science around sustainability. Now I can pick up a scientific paper about sustainable diets and quickly come to grips with the advantages and limitations of the research.
I think the courses are really valuable for anybody who works with food businesses. Although the discussions centre on what goes on in the US, it’s still very relevant to what we do in New Zealand and Australia because we are often faced with the same nutrition issues. From a professional perspective, the courses have been comprehensive, very interesting and helpful, and I’d love to take more.
Before getting my Master’s in Public Health at Northwestern, I had worked on refugee policy with the US government and the UN in the Middle East and East Africa – mostly in Ethiopia, Lebanon, Jordan, Tunisia, Libya, and Iraq. This kind of work deals with complex emergencies from the standpoint of security, and I saw firsthand how access to nutrition in some of the camps was very limited. I wanted to gain a deeper understanding of the problem.
My first course for the certificate program was Program Monitoring and Evaluation (NUTC 210) and right off the bat we were looking at real data in Ethiopia. I could actually take the material and the framework and apply it, integrate it into my work. I found Malnutrition Prevention and Response (NUTC 203) equally useful. My conversations with the instructor led me to other professors and pathways. I’d say Underlying Causes of Malnutrition (NUTC 204) was most practical and useful, in that we got to see how the government focuses on these issues. I definitely use skill sets from all three classes to gain a deeper understanding of program impact in the humanitarian complex environment.
Furthermore, the courses offered for the Global Nutrition Programming certificate tremendously complemented the research I conducted on the role of cash transfer programs to combat child malnutrition in Syrian refugee camps in Jordan while on my Boren Fellowship with the United States government. All courses effectively explored programmatic implications, offered real-world solutions, and demonstrated how to use indicators to conduct monitoring and evaluation.
At that point I knew I wanted to explore linkages between nutrition and health in the complex emergencies in the Middle East, especially the Syrian migration crisis. After talking to professors at Friedman School and utilizing the skills I had learned from the certificate program, I got accepted as a Ph.D. student at the Friedman School. I start in the fall, in the Food and Nutrition Policy and Programs curriculum.
A lot of the students in the program were working professionals and they had this really unique, real-life experience they could bring to the classroom and online discussion boards. I know it's not a live class when it's recorded, but it kind of felt like it was live, because people were so active on the boards. I know we're missing that face-to-face contact, but the program and professors did a really good job of engaging students, while accommodating for lifestyle of the working student.
I'm a certified nurse-midwife and have been practicing for six years. I applied to the certificate program to be able to provide better nutritional support for patients because we are seeing -- especially with COVID -- more issues around excessive weight gain and pregnancy. I work at a low-risk clinic where we cannot keep patients with hypertensive issues in pregnancy, or those who take medications to control gestational diabetes; therefore, our goal is to prevent these conditions to keep our patients within our practice.
When I was looking at different programs, the number one thing that stood out about Tufts was the course on pregnancy and lactation -- that's my main focus. Once I started, the entire program was a phenomenal experience, and I gained in-depth information I could share with my non-pregnant clients also. Even though it was all online, the instructors were always available and supportive; they wanted you to get as much as possible from the program. I also had classmates in different areas of the US who had similar issues around access to nutritious foods. We were able to do a little bit of brainstorming together in our forums and discussion sessions. We shared our experiences and the best thing was that we all had different backgrounds in health care, so it was a teamwork approach. I appreciated the respect everyone in the program had for diverse populations and the support that was offered to face challenges among underserved populations.
Principles of Nutrition Science (NUTR 202) needs to be taught in all the advanced practicing nurses' curricula to enable us to better serve our patients by incorporating some nutrition into their care. Growing up on the Jicarilla Apache Reservation, I can understand the barriers patients face regarding nutrition. The education I received is helping me address these barriers, and I feel supported knowing I can always reach out to my instructors in the future as needed. So far, my patients have been receptive to the improved, appropriate nutrition education that I've learned from this certificate program.
I was a busy working mom in consumer products marketing when I began the certificate program. I wanted to learn more about healthy eating to improve my own and my family's health, and to maintain my recent weight loss. With a vegetarian daughter and a dairy-intolerant son, I wanted to know more about nutrition for many reasons. After searching online information, I found Tufts Online Graduate Program and was excited to be able to study flexibly at such a reputable school. I jumped at the opportunity.
During a behavior theory course (NUTC 211), I had an epiphany for a product idea that led to an entrepreneurial venture. I never expected to start a business or even change careers when I came to Tufts, but it stimulated my brain in new ways that have been incredibly rewarding. Today, I am the founder of Hello Healthy Company, a home-delivery wellness business, and am applying my consumer products background to developing obesity treatment for those who need help.
I received a Certificate of Graduate Studies in Nutrition Science for Communications Professionals in 2020. In addition to the satisfaction of accomplishing the certification, Tufts inspired me to start a business and become an entrepreneur. It has given me a new purpose and professional direction that I didn't expect at the age of 60. Most importantly, it is fun to be a student again so I encourage anyone who is retired or near retirement to consider the Friedman School’s online graduate programs as a new adventure. Who knows where it will lead?
My undergraduate degree is in English and Communication Arts, but I was drawn to this program after entering the workforce and better understanding the need for qualified communication on nutrition science. Too often, there is a significant gap between the research and how that research is communicated to the public – bridging that gap has enormous implications for public health.
This program at Tufts is fantastic. Every professor went above and beyond in mentoring students and ensuring that they were equipped to drive real impact. And the subject matter was directly applicable to the work that I was doing – I was able to study the subject material during evenings and weekends and take that learning into my profession (as the manager of food accounts at a global public relations firm) by day.
My favorite course, Interpreting Nutrition Evidence (NUTC 230), took us into the research – digging into several studies, identifying their value and pinpointing their flaws. I have the knowledge gained from this course on speed dial. I still use it regularly as my clients evaluate new research relevant to their businesses.
This program has given me the foundation to focus my communications career on nutrition science; it inspired my appetite for research, and for further study in chronic disease epidemiology and the many factors (like adequate nutrition) that contribute to chronic disease. I'll be resuming graduate studies at Yale this year, with a goal to earn my MPH and continue to improve nutrition science literacy among a general public.
I’d been interested in health for a long time, though admittedly, initially more so in that of mine and my family’s. During my career as a prosecutor and then a public defender however, it became clear to me that my family and I were lucky because economic resources have everything to do with a person’s health. I worked with underserved populations in the Chicago area and witnessed firsthand how many in those communities are forced to obtain much of their food from small corner stores and fast food restaurants. Consequently, obesity and related comorbidities, such as hypertension and diabetes, are very common. Particularly vulnerable members of those communities, such as the elderly, seem to be suffering the most. When I retired from the practice of law, I wondered what I could do to help. One day, I happened to come across the Online Graduate Certificate Program at Friedman and was immediately intrigued. Applying for admission and enrolling in the program was one of the best decisions I could have made.
My experience in the certificate program was excellent. I had never taken an online course before, but I found the flexibility and efficiency of the platform to be exactly what I was looking for. The knowledge I gained from each course increased my eagerness to continue—so much so that I ended up earning two certificates, one in Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems and the other in Nutrition for Industry Professionals and Entrepreneurs. I was particularly impressed with the quality of the instructors and the ease with which I could communicate with them through email or Skype. I particularly found their contributions to the discussion forums to be most helpful in my understanding of the materials presented. The interactions with my cohort, students from all over the world, enhanced the experience.
There is no question that the most useful course I took during the program was Diane McKay’s “Foundations of Nutrition Science”. It was challenging for someone like myself with very little background in science, but I worked hard and learned a great deal. After the class, I even put together a large notebook including most of the course materials. I still refer to it when I feel I need to refresh my memory as to one or more important concepts of nutrition. Other courses that stand out in my mind as I reflect on those that I completed include, “Sustainability on the Farm,” taught by Timothy Griffin; “Nutrition & Innovation,” taught by Barbara Lyle; and “Nutrition-Related Consumer Marketing,” taught by Rachel Cheatham. Although all my instructors in the program were good, I found studying with these four scholars to be particularly rewarding.
Professionally, I’ve taken a slightly different direction. My Friedman courses required a good deal of writing, thankfully requiring me to stay on top of my game in that regard. But instead of writing about nutrition, I am currently attempting to complete a novel which, I might add, has nothing to do with nutrition. One day though, I hope to get back to nutrition, possibly writing an article or two about sustainability, food justice, nutrition, or policy for a publication such as Civil Eats. The personal enrichment I gained from participating in the online certificate program is why I count it as being among one of the best decisions I’ve made. The benefits I received—the knowledge acquired and the people I met (virtually), including some of the top nutrition professionals in the industry—made my experience one which I would readily recommend to anyone with an interest in any of the curriculums offered.
I received my undergraduate degree in nutritional sciences from the University of Connecticut with a focus in the didactic program. After graduation, I successfully matched for my Dietetic Internship, also at UConn, which is required to complete as a qualification to sit for the licensing exam to become a registered dietitian.
I entered college with an end goal of accomplishing exactly what I did, becoming a Registered Dietitian. This path felt like a natural choice, I have always had a love for food, was interested in the sciences, and wanted a career that focused on helping people. Since you essentially have to know what you want to do with the rest of your life at 18, especially a choice requiring a rigorous and inflexible college course load, it felt good to have made a decision about my future at the time. Once I began my professional career, though, I began to realize that my interests and experiences in undergraduate may not translate to the career I had chosen.
My first job after earning my professional license was as a clinical dietitian in an in-patient hospital in New York City. I assumed this job would be a place to start, somewhere to gain valuable experience and professional skills, which I did. I started this job as a part time employee, and this is when I began to research continuing education programs to learn more about how to elevate myself and to explore the career possibilities in my field. The Tufts certificate program felt like the perfect gateway. I was able to choose exactly what courses interested me, it was an efficient but not overwhelming timeline, and it was a lesser commitment than a Master’s Program, to which I was not yet ready to commit.
I was able to take courses in Public Health, Food Marketing, and US Food Systems; opportunities and flexibility I did not have time for in my undergraduate education. I enjoyed only taking one course at a time. I was able to really dive in and focus more deeply on the current material, without feeling overwhelmed by my other commitments. It required some adapting, being outside of a classroom, but the professors in Freidman did a fantastic job of outlining the course in a way to keep you engaged in the material as well as engaged with your online peers. My courses were well organized and executed, as the program is definitely created for busy individuals who want to be engaged but also efficient. I was even able to create my own certificate, so that I could really take advantage of the well-rounded courses they offer, rather than a specific track.
Something uniquely valuable for me, possibly due to having attended a large university or possibly due to taking graduate level classes for the first time, was learning so much about the accomplishments and backgrounds of my professors. For example, Dr. Rachel Cheatham taught my Food Marketing course. She started her own consulting company, Foodscape Group, LLC, which helps businesses navigate the extremely overwhelming intersection of science and marketing in the food world. Though I did find this course extremely interesting at the time, as well as Dr. Cheatham’s career path, I had no idea that it would eventually be related to the professional space where I am today.
After exploring more traditional job opportunities for Registered Dietitians (Clinical Nutrition, Corporate Nutrition, Health Coach), I began to realize and explore the possibility that I would only be fulfilled by and thrive in a more untraditional role. I began to more fully analyze what I wanted in my career as the job hunt began in earnest yet again. I finally found my current position, Merchant Development at an NYC-based company, STADIUM and SnackMagic. I am now combining my love of food and learned professional skills in a new, creative space and it has been a truly amazing experience so far.
STADIUM is a NYC-based corporate lunch service, where groups of people can order individual meals from a variety of local restaurants which are delivered together. I joined our restaurant team, working with restaurant developments and menu innovations. When COVID-19 hit NYC, we accelerated our plans for a CPG Channel and a brand-new offer, SnackMagic, was launched in the spring of this year. SnackMagic focuses on bringing the best consumer-packaged snacks and beverages to a new, national audience in a one of a kind, build-your-own-snack-stash gifting service, delivered to our customers’ doors nationwide. I work with all of our snack and beverage brands, creating a space for snack discovery for our customers and a space for our brand partners to thrive. My degree combined with real-life experience at SnackMagic puts me in a position to advocate for brands looking to disrupt the food space.
Overall, Tufts Graduate Certificate Program provided me the opportunity to expand my understanding of the possibilities within my chosen field through engaging and unique coursework. The program has proven to be of significant value for steering me towards my current career path and realizing the scope of possibilities I can pursue with my nutrition background.
Dr. Megan Dankovich
As a psychiatrist, I realize that sleep, diet, and exercise are critical to mental health, and I try to take a holistic approach with my patients. The abundance of information is really confusing to people and there’s a lot of snake oil out there; because I wanted to help my patients make informed, evidence-based decisions about food, I decided to enter the graduate certificate program at the Friedman School. I loved Foundations of Nutrition Science: it was a tough, rigorous course, and presented the nitty-gritty, biochemical processes of nutrition. We learned to critically analyze the literature, and I felt it was spot-on level-appropriate for physicians. I also really appreciated the independent research opportunities that the Nutrition, Health and Disease courses provided because they allowed me to explore topics that were interesting to me, like nutritional psychiatry and the effects of diet on women’s mental health during pregnancy and postpartum. As for the technical aspect of the program, though I had not taken any prior online courses I was glad to find it to be easy and clear. I could review the videos on my own time while maintaining my private practice and my family life.
Karen Pereira de Andrade
For 15+ years, I worked in youth services, specifically with high-risk, abused, and neglected youth. My experience ranged from clinical to management to oversight. While working through management strategies of youth behavior, I noticed that food/lack of the right type of food played a recurring theme and the impact on positive behavior. Whether it be a good breakfast before heading to school, or a snack in the van on the way back from school.
I noticed a shift in my perception about the role of nutrition and health in one’s wellbeing versus ‘diet’. It took me 2 years of delving into different aspects of nutrition, from healing with herbs to community cooking to realize that this is a path that I wanted to follow and learn more on how to make it an integral part of my life and career.
I had two graduate degrees, one in social work and the other in nonprofit management/urban policy. I was then based in NYC and was working full time. I balked at the thought of going back to school and earning another degree. In researching various institutions, I learned that there is a wide variety of instruction and courses which was overwhelming. Diane McKay from Tufts provided me with the right guidance I needed. Her advice was that with my background, I would need a few select courses that would augment my current skill set and that I should focus on the learning rather than the fear of the degree. Ms. McKay’s practical advice was the turning point in my selection of the Tufts online graduate certificate program.
My experience with ‘school’ was 15 years ago and was always in person. I am not an active class participant particularly because I am more reticent and selective about speaking in public. I learned in my first course that the online program was the perfect medium of instruction for me. It allowed me to work on both classwork and homework in my own time. Every week, I had to write several responses to course work, and I was not pressured to respond in a split second. I could think through my responses and be more introspective about the issues we discussed. The course work was perfectly balanced, with new topics weekly and a time frame for viewing online lectures and completing the reading materials. The instructors and TAs were always available and provided timely and constructive feedback. A huge plus was that the instructors were current practitioners in the field, and they brought in real live examples of nutrition and wellness to the classroom. We also worked in tandem with our classmates who were from different work backgrounds as well as different countries. Their insight brought a different perspective and forced us to think outside our own experience. I connected with several classmates, met some who lived in the same city and maintained an active correspondence through the entire program with others.
Each course that I selected was based on my interest. The core Nutrition course opened my eyes to information that I had not grasped earlier, from 5 food groups, to non-FDA approved diets plans, to the importance of nutritional values vis a vis our health. The other two courses were elective, and I chose Theory of Behavior Change and Malnutrition Prevention and Response. In both these courses, we had to create plans to help create systemic change both at a micro level and a macro level. This gave me a broad range of understanding about the importance of looking at environmental issues that help drive behavior and choices.
As ‘luck’ would have it, just before starting my last course Malnutrition Prevention and Response, I moved to the Boston area due to family commitments. So, here I was attending an online course, but now in the same vicinity as Tufts. This opened new opportunities in being able to attend an in-person conference at Tufts. I was able to meet my Instructor Erin Boyd, who recommended the conference. Being in the milieu of other public health advocates, nutritionists and students provided me an experience that I would not have thought possible.
While a student of the Online Graduate Certificate Program in Developing Healthy Communities, I had access to the Tufts career portal of internships and other job opportunities across the US. When I moved to the Boston area, I applied to be a part time student intern at the Greater Boston Food Bank to complete a Hunger Survey. I worked with this team for over six months.
My current job at the Food Bank is focused around Policy and Advocacy. One of my tasks was to create a client engagement campaign where I was able to utilize the different examples and theories learned in class to ensure that I was looking at the issues holistically as well as in an equitable manner.
I now feel equipped and confident working on issues around food security and hunger while utilizing my previous experience as a non-profit manager.
I was drawn to the Tufts Friedman School’s Graduate Certificate program due to my long-standing fascination with nutrition. My passion for nutrition stems from a combination of my undergraduate coursework as a biology major at Hamilton College, my prior involvement with research projects investigating the effects of nutrition on type 2 diabetes and the gut microbiota in animal models, and my current job as a Clinical Research Coordinator at Massachusetts General Hospital. In my role at MGH, I support the efforts of two projects: a workplace wellness intervention that promotes healthy food choices among hospital employees, and a study evaluating a program that aims to alleviate health-related social needs, like food and housing insecurity, among Medicaid patients and its effects on patient’s dietary quality and health. I’m also involved as a volunteer at Boston-area organizations that work to improve food access, specifically a farmer’s market that accepts SNAP benefits as payment for fresh produce and a food pantry that delivers food to low-income homebound and disabled individuals. These experiences not only exposed me to the direct impact of nutrition on health and the various barriers that prevent people from achieving optimal health, but also piqued my interest in the multifarious links between nutrition and public health.
I decided to enroll in the Tufts Graduate Certificate program because I was enticed by the opportunity to explore my interests in nutrition and public health while remaining employed full-time. Overall, what I appreciated most about the program was the flexible online format and the freedom to tailor coursework to my specific interests, which included nutrition, sustainable food systems, and the behaviors that influence dietary choices. After taking ‘Principles of Nutrition Science’ as my first course, I enrolled in ‘Theories of Behavior Change in Nutrition and Public Health Interventions’ and then ‘Sustainable Food Systems and Markets.’ All of the courses were high-quality and challenging, and it was a pleasure learning from passionate and engaged instructors alongside other individuals who shared my interests. My favorite aspect of each course were the discussion forums, which provided students with opportunities to engage with professors and classmates. Each week, I looked forward to contributing to the discussion and reading my classmates’ posts that shared their unique perspectives and insights. The wealth of knowledge I gained from this program enhanced my ability to participate in discussions about nutrition-related public health challenges with the research colleagues and community organization leaders with whom I regularly interact, which has benefited both my professional and personal life. Overall, my experience in the program affirmed my desire to pursue graduate education in both nutrition and public health.
The valuable perspective I've gained on nutrition-related public health issues in both research and community organization settings as well as through the Tufts Certificate program curriculum has motivated me to pursue further education and a career in public health and nutrition. This fall, I’m excited to begin the Master of Public Health in Nutrition program at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. In the future, I hope to pursue a career supporting the development of interventions, programs, and policies that reduce diet-related health disparities in vulnerable populations. I’m very grateful for the education I received through the Tufts Graduate Certificate program, and I’m confident that my experiences at Tufts and Harvard will prepare me well to leverage nutrition expertise in the public health field and transform people’s lives for the better throughout my professional career.
At age 36, I was diagnosed with Celiac Disease and a litany of food intolerances after a lifelong struggle with illness, weight management, skin issues, and fatigue. Upon following the dietary protocol for treatment, my life and body completely transformed. I experienced firsthand the comprehensive and critical role that proper nutrition plays in achieving optimum wellness. To fully understand the underlying science in play, I immersed myself in learning about "food as medicine", and became my own lab experiment in several respects!
Given the highly visible changes I underwent, many people in my immediate and extended circle began asking me for help, advice, and coaching. In response, I launched a small side business called Grocery Coach Julie focused specifically on teaching people how to navigate the minefield of options at their local grocery store and make food choices that align with their overall wellness goals.
As part of that endeavor, I felt compelled to earn an official academic credential to complement my "self-made" expertise. Given that I already had undergraduate and graduate degrees in other fields and a full time corporate job, I needed a program that was both comprehensive and compact, as well as highly credible and navigable on a distance learning platform. The Tufts Online Certificate program fit all my criteria, combined with a renowned reputation for pioneering advancements and research in the field of nutrition.
I had a terrific experience from start to finish in the certificate program. Tufts' seamless integration of virtual distance learning with creating a viable participatory "class" environment is second to none.
The instructors I worked with were extremely knowledgeable and very responsive when I had questions or needed help. They also took into account that their primary student audience works full time in a variety of environments, time zones, etc.
My advisor helped me identify at the outset which program most closely aligned with my professional nutrition goals. Thanks to her direction, all of my coursework dovetailed with real time and real world application of my learnings. This program has been completely worth my time and financial investment.
The three courses I completed for my certificate were Theories of Behavior Change and Their Application in Nutrition and Public Health Interventions, Foundations of Nutrition Science, and Current Controversies in Nutrition.
While all three courses combined to deliver a varied and multifaceted learning experience, my favorite was actually Foundations of Nutrition Science! I loved learning the core science behind my own physiological responses to food, and our instructor helped guide us through the more technical content from a very practical and applicable perspective. I suspect many learners have endured lengthy Organic Chemistry lectures to master the same key tenets that Diane taught us in a highly efficient alternative format!
That said, all three courses have been extremely helpful in working with my clients because a) I am aware of potentially controversial recommendations they may previously have followed, b) I can answer their questions with evidence-based science and research, and c) I can help them develop behavioral strategies for sustainable change.
Personally, I feel much more empowered to leverage food and nutrition in managing my autoimmune disorder. Professionally, I am deeply proud to feature a credential from Tufts on my nutrition coaching website.
My certificate work with the Friedman School has given me a solid foundation to continue growing and learning in this dynamic and exciting field, and will position me to open many doors whenever I may choose to walk through them!
At first, my focus on fitness and nutrition was mostly for myself, but as a radio personality, I wanted to turn that interest towards helping other people. I had majored in journalism at the University of Georgia, so I applied for the Nutrition Science for Communications Professionals track in the Tufts Online Graduate Certificate Programs. I liked the fact that the program was taught by Tufts professors – the Tufts name and reputation is legitimate, and I knew it would be worth the time to be taught by highly-credentialed professors.
Having graduated from college in 2000, I was worried at first about how I was going to handle getting an education in a completely different environment, but it was much easier and more manageable than I thought it would be. It was my first experience in a virtual setting and the flexibility was really nice, but I liked the fact that there were still deadlines. The professors do a very nice job of expanding upon the reading assignments in their lectures. You also get a chance to have conversations with your classmates versus only communicating through message boards, and there was nice give-and-take in those talks.
The course Foundations of Nutrition Science was very useful and informative, but the course I enjoyed the most was Current Controversies in Nutrition. I thought it was the most interesting and the most applicable, tackling topics like organic versus non-organic food.
Carrying on from my experiences with the Tufts Online Graduate Certificate Programs, I’ve decided to go down the path of fitness, nutrition, and personal training. People are going to keep wanting virtual fitness after this crisis is over!
I work for a health insurance company as a health educator. When we're not going through a pandemic, I travel to our employers’ sites and educate employees about healthy behaviors that prevent chronic disease (in recent months I do the same thing, just via webinar). Needless to say, nutrition is a big part of the job. I have a Master’s degree in public health from Columbia University and I am a Master’s-level certified health education specialist. While the process of obtaining these credentials gave me the skills to motivate people to adopt healthy behaviors, I never had to take a basic nutrition science class. I wanted to feel more confident in the material I was presenting, and answer questions that came my way on a deeper level.
On a personal level, I have been vegan for years, and much of what I knew about nutrition came from things I had read and conferences I had attended where all of the experts had a bias towards exclusively plant-based eating. I wanted to learn from people who didn't start with the assumption that all animal products were unhealthy.
I chose this program over others because it seemed the most "real" to me. When I researched other programs, they weren't willing to provide a syllabus. They had online courses in a million difference subjects. And, quite frankly, when a university course gives the option of an online promo code, it's a little off-putting. Tufts is a well-known and respected school of nutrition. They required a real application process and had a real curriculum. I started my research only looking for the Foundations of Nutrition Science class, but kind of fell in love with the whole program, so I jumped in.
I started in the “Build Your Own” program, but changed it to Nutrition Science for Communication Professionals midway. The change happened mostly because I ended up choosing 3 courses that fit into that program, but when I look back, it makes sense, because a health educator really is a health-communication professional.
I really loved this program. I only had two professors (Diane McKay and Adela Hruby), but they were terrific. I learned more than I ever imagined I would. The program was demanding, but not overwhelming. When they say that you should expect to spend 8-12 hours per week on each course, that's pretty much on target, but they definitely understand that people have full-time jobs and families and are flexible about deadlines. The course material is interesting and fun, and I looked forward to spending my time learning.
While these are asynchronous, online courses. I absolutely felt connected to my professors. They made a point to get to know me, and always answered questions by email or by phone within a day. They also created video lectures such that their personalities and passion for the subject came through.
I really needed Foundations of Nutrition Science. Now, instead of just teaching people about which carbohydrates are healthy, I can tell them which fruits and vegetables have which nutrients, and which nutrients are needed to nourish which parts of our bodies.
Current Controversies in Nutrition was incredibly useful, because it made me far more articulate when answering the questions I receive the most during my presentations – “Should I go on a low-carb/gluten-free diet?” “Which supplements should I take” “How much water do I need to drink each day?”.
I haven't made any career changes, but that wasn't my goal. I think that with an MPH, my health education certification, and a certification in tobacco-cessation counseling, this certificate rounds out my resume a bit if I want to look for a new job at some point. Within my current job, it has made a world of difference. I was able to add 3-4 new presentations to my menu of topics that I offer to clients. When participants ask me questions about nutrition-related topics, I can give much more confident and comprehensive answers.
On a personal level, I am still vegan because it reduces animal suffering and is better for the environment, but I fully recognize that it is not the only way to be healthy, and I can guide people to incorporating the healthiest animal products into their diets. It was nice to learn that nutrition experts fully support plant-based eating, and I learned tips on how to maximize my own nutrition within this lifestyle.
A few years ago I decided to make a big change career-wise. I had spent my entire career in investment banking; mergers and acquisitions and capital markets, but I wanted to follow my passion by investing in plant-based food and beverage consumer packaged goods and motivate change to our food system in the process. I was already an angel investor, doing this part-time during my evenings and weekends, but I wanted to do this full-time by raising a venture capital fund. Managing money for other people comes with huge responsibilities and I was seeking every advantage possible to make myself technically competent when it came to investing in food and beverage (F&B) companies. I decided to enroll in the Nutrition for Industry Professionals and Entrepreneurs Program while I was fundraising for Rocana Ventures.
The program could not have been a better fit for me. It seemed like every week I was learning something that I could apply directly to my mission. I also really enjoyed interacting with peers from very diverse backgrounds, and frankly with a lot of people who had a lot more food and beverage industry experience compared to me! The course load was very manageable with my full-time work.
My favorite course was "Nutrition Product Regulations: Labeling and Claims" because this is not something I would normally learn day-to-day through my work, but is critically important to the success of consumer packaged goods (CPG) brands. There were a lot of valuable resources provided that I can continuously check back into whenever I needed to. This course provided me with some technical knowledge that certainly made me sharper when speaking to CPG entrepreneurs. You could say I might have even avoided some bad investments as a result!
Somewhat covered above, but given that I don't have a long history of being in the F&B CPG industry, this program gave me some technical knowledge that I otherwise would not have ever known or would have taken me a long time to find the resources to learn.
In 2014 I was just about to retire having made my career as an engineer for the US Navy. My 34-year career was fun, provided variety, and many learning experiences, including hands-on experiences in science focused on marine ecology.
I had become more and more involved with local small farms, growing my own produce, and seeing that folks with the resources to work out at the gym would try to work off bad food choices. I had seen how group food choices can easily swing to cheap and unhealthy ones. I knew I needed a much stronger background in nutrition and connection to accredited resources to be a believable advocate for the health benefits of local seasonal food, healthy diet, and physical activity.
Tufts' Online Graduate Certificate Programs provided a way to get into a program that connected me to academic resources. Tufts University is well-respected both in nutrition research and US policies. The online aspect of the certificate program made attending classes convenient and easy.
All my experiences in the certificate programs were positive and continually opened my eyes to everything from evaluating references to influencing behaviors -- from neighborhood designs for walkability to vitamin absorption and the basics of physiology. The instructors, class assistants, library staff, and technical support brought me through from not having been in formal university-level academia since 1990. Diane McKay guided me as both advisor and instructor. The instructors answered every email, and responded to every question no matter how naïve and wonderstruck I was at how resilient our bodies are. The course I took on physical activity was an unexpected call to action to change our communities. In many cases we worked with fellow students in teams. This widened my perspective of challenges faced by other age groups in other locations. Each classmate brought their heart to the table and as teams we were able to build on each other’s ideas with instructor guidance.
Now, I have greater resources at my fingertips and a better understanding of what motivates people when marketing my produce in a local on-line farmers co-op. Personally, I have been getting more exercise, feeling more fit, and am more aware of what influences my own choices. I have also included reputable resources in my own writing and been able to provide accurate information to my legislature on health care and agricultural policy.
While serving with AmeriCorps, I became interested in learning about food systems with a focus on environmentalism. The year before, I had graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Philosophy, and had very little background in natural sciences and economics. I needed a program that would provide a foundation in the field of sustainability, while also giving me a secure footing for future work and studies. The Friedman certificate in Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems was the perfect match. It condensed a formative education into one year of three courses.
The program provided me with the flexibility to continue my professional path while pursuing a top-notch online education. My professors were knowledgeable and enthusiastic about their courses. I blogged with students across the world! What’s more, each course featured guest lecturers who are noted leaders in their subject matter - everything from USDA advertising policies to Kosher food history in America.
I loved the first course I took - Sustainability on the Farm. I have a great interest in food production and this course taught me how integral production methods are to a healthy environment.
My certificate experience helped me get into an urban planning master’s degree and has provided endless opportunities to be an intellectual show-off to my family and friends.
I am a 2003 graduate of the Fletcher School at Tufts. I had some burgeoning interest in nutrition during my time at Fletcher and cross-registered for at least one course with the Friedman School during that time. I went on to complete a MSc in public health from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and then spent about a decade working at an international not-for-profit organization based in New York City focused namely on sexual and reproductive health. My role largely centered on service integration, specifically capitalizing on opportunities where family planning could be “linked” or combined with other health services such as with HIV services, or along the maternal-child continuum of care (during antenatal care, postpartum visits, and/or during child health and wellness visits). Nutrition seemed like a vital additional component of the service package. As such, I decided to pursue the certificate in Global Nutrition Programming.
I had a very positive experience with the certificate program. The quality of instruction and feedback from professors was consistently high. The program workload and format allowed me enough flexibility to be able to maintain part-time employment while completing the certificate. I found the material to be interesting and relevant. I enjoyed engaging with classmates with various interests, backgrounds and professions, and from all over the world.
I really enjoyed all three of the courses that I took for different reasons (and feel I would benefit from taking more!) The course that I was particularly excited about was Program Monitoring and Evaluation, because M&E is a useful skill that can be applied broadly and across disciplines. Underlying Causes of Malnutrition appealed to my interest in integration, bringing in discussion all sorts of multi-sector approaches. I appreciated the ability to bring my family planning and development background into this course, submitting a Theory of Change for a nutrition-sensitive family planning and reproductive health program as my final project.
On a professional level, I am still navigating how to fully integrate nutrition into my career. However, on a personal level, I have joined the Wellness Committee at my daughter’s school, where the nutritional value of the school lunch, class snacks, and celebrations was a main topic; some specific changes were made in these areas. The knowledge gleaned from the coursework, particularly Foundations of Nutrition Science with Diane McKay, has also informed and altered how I function as a shopper and consumer. I regularly read labels to assess the ingredients in products I buy (avoiding saturated fat and high sodium foods, amongst others). I remember reading about bent or damaged cans, and will no longer buy these! I remember how relieved I felt to learn that coffee counts towards daily water intake. I also stopped taking a daily multi-vitamin that I ultimately determined was a costly, and likely unnecessary habit.