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My Manchester Story

Katherine Matutes

by Marie Fisher | Dec 10, 2021

Tell us about yourself and what led you to Manchester?

I got my doctoral degree at Purdue University. I wasn’t clear on my path after grad school. I thought about dietetics, but I had both my kids during grad school, and becoming a registered dietician required an internship. I sort of just stumbled into my health and wellness director role at a large community center. It was a career path that had never occurred to me before, but I had no growth after working there for 10 years. I transferred over to the University of Indianapolis where I had the same job description but on a larger scale. I would have stayed there, but the pandemic had other plans. My position was eliminated with 50 other people. I started looking for my next thing, and I had a long-term goal of returning to academia. My doctoral thesis is in molecular nutrition, and Manchester had just opened the nutrigenomics program in Fort Wayne. It’s a great combination of my education and skills set with where they’re hoping to send their registered dietetics students when they go on to their master’s program.

We’ve adopted a nutrition sciences program to start in fall 2022. Can you tell us about that and how this will impact the University?

I hope to see this program help students figure out their career path. It isn’t just being a nutritionist –there are so many avenues nutrition sciences support. We hope to see a trend toward preventative medicine as to how we are educating people in the medical field and how a nutrition background will help them in the future. I think we’ll see double majors and minors from exercise science, pre-pharmacy, and nursing students.

What career opportunities would be available for someone with a nutrition sciences degree?

We have two different tracks: the nutritionist track and the registered dietician track. Nutritionist is more community focused and client facing. You could see someone working in a community center, humanitarian support, or food marketing communications. The registered dietician route is more lab and clinical focused. One career that surprised me was my own as a health and wellness director. Another one that people might know about is nutraceutical sales

Why should a prospective student choose our nutrition sciences programs over others in Indiana?

One thing we’re going to have is hands-on experiences for students. We have a food sciences lab where most of our classes will be taken. Students won’t be sitting in a lecture on how you implement these changes – we’re going to be in the kitchen doing it and applying these skills into the real world. The small class sizes are nice. When you go to a place like Purdue University, where your smallest class size might be 50 people, you’re going to have a much different relationship with your faculty than you would at Manchester. There’s so much communication inter-departmentally that there’s going to be some cross collaboration that benefits students. I hope to have real clients. One of the biggest barriers for students in this field is that they often graduate without having any client interaction. We are going to prepare them before they go into their career.

What advice do you have for anyone interested in studying this field?

Talk to people in this field. Find someone who would be willing to participate in a job shadow or interview. Ask them about their professional life, not just their studies but their work life, too. Students don’t get that guidance soon enough in their educational careers to understand how much of an impact that can have. Also know the requirements you need to earn your degree. It’s important they understand the education requirement.

Is there anything else you would like to add about yourself?

I’m passionate about food and eating, and I think it’s difficult to be in the nutrition field if you don’t understand how to apply the principles of nutrition through food. There will be a big emphasis in our curriculum on how you make those food choices and apply them to your daily life. I’m very passionate about climate change, and there is no other industry that has more impact on climate than the food industry. With the knowledge they’ll retain, nutrition students can make a huge impact to climate change.