CAFNR Advisor Spotlight: Amy Marek

Marek serves as an academic advisor for the nutrition and exercise physiology, and food science and nutrition degree programs

How rewarding is it to work with students in the Division of Food, Nutrition and Exercise Sciences?

The most rewarding part of the job is getting to know each student and helping them create their own path to graduation. Being the academic advisor for two degree programs, it can seem like student meetings and emails are endless but it’s all a part of the job. It’s worth it to ease a student’s mind with a quick meeting or responding to their email if they are having concerns or needing advice. I will admit it’s hard when students graduate because I miss our interactions, but it’s so exciting when you see them reach their goals of getting their first job, getting into a graduate program or whatever their future may hold for them.

How do you assist those students throughout their academic journey?

Starting from the very first meeting with a student, I sit down with them and go over the graduation plan for the degree program. We start creating their plan and work on a semester-by-semester plan. From the very start, I want them to see the classes they will be taking and how long it will take them to complete their degree. I also like to meet with my students every semester to see how their semester is going, update their graduation plan, talk about internships, study abroad, or if they decided to add a minor.

What advice would you give to high school students who are interested in pursuing degrees in nutrition and exercise physiology or food science and nutrition?

I love talking with prospective students. I encourage students who are interested in food science or nutrition and exercise physiology to visit campus and while on campus to make sure they meet with someone in the degree program they are interested in. When I meet with prospective students, I go over the degree program so they know exactly what courses they will be taking through our degree. I also give guidance on AP/dual credit courses. I explain how their AP/dual credit courses transfer to the degree program. I encourage students to take some of their general education courses through AP/dual credit, but their science courses, I would take the upper-level science courses in high school for the experience but wait to take them for credit when they get to college. Both degree programs are science-based degrees, it’s best to take their science classes for credit when they get to college.

Other advice: Don’t be close minded and see the endless possibilities! There are so many career opportunities for both degree programs. Food science has endless career options as they can go into food quality assurance, food product development, flavoring, research or a graduate can go on the business side and work in sales, marketing or management within the food industry. Nutrition and exercise physiology graduates can explore career opportunities within several health profession fields: medicine, dentistry, physician assistant, physical therapy or chiropractic practice. They also have opportunities to become personal trainers, strength conditioning coaches or registered dietitian professionals.

What is your favorite part of serving as an academic advisor for these two degree programs?

My favorite part of being an advisor is working with the students. Advising for two different majors, there is no typical day. There are days I only meet with a handful of students and other days I can meet with up to 12 students. The topics for each meeting can vary as well. Meetings can range from talking about food microbiology, exercise physiology or dietetics to internships, jobs and study abroad opportunities. I do my best to be present when meeting with students and give them my undivided attention. It’s their meeting time and I’m here to help and guide them.