This past summer, Hannah Durbin approached her mother, Roseann, with information about a program at the University of Missouri that she was interested in potentially pursuing. Hannah had just earned her bachelor’s degree in event and convention management from Stephens College – and she thought the accelerated master’s coordinated program in dietetics, through the nutrition and exercise physiology (NEP) degree program, would complement the degree she just earned.
“I thought the program sounded really cool,” Roseann said. “It sounded so cool, in fact, that I made the mistake of saying that if you decide to do it, I’ll join you!”
“I applied and sent her the link,” Hannah added. “I told her classes started in two weeks, so she should hurry.”
Roseann got her application completed in plenty of time and joined her daughter on their new adventure. The mother-daughter duo just completed their first semester as Mizzou students, sharing a handful of new experiences – including being classmates.
“Being a student hasn’t always been Hannah’s thing, so if she wanted to go for it, that meant she was super motivated,” Roseann said. “That also lit a fire under me.”
The two had three courses together during the fall semester – food science and nutrition, introduction to human nutrition, and medical terminology.
“I really never thought I would have a class with my mom,” Hannah said. “But I love my mom so much, so it really works out well. It’s been great to have her here, to have someone to study with and someone to be social with.”
Being back in the classroom was an interesting experience for Roseann, a retired nurse.
“I’ve had to redo a lot of courses because all of my stuff is old,” she said. “I was a nurse for more than 20 years and now I’m in a medical terminology course. It’s a bit funny. I have to remind myself we’re at the introductory level and not forge ahead.”
Along with sharing a handful of classes, Hannah and Roseann spend time together at the Mizzou Rec and have found their favorite study spots throughout campus.
“It’s been really interesting seeing how we complement each other,” Roseann said. “I’m very comfortable in a classroom setting and Hannah really excels with technology. We support each other where we can.”
“I’m more about practical application and mom really thrives on the research side,” Hannah added. “It’s really interesting to see the approach.”
Roseann has earned three degrees, including one from Stephens College. She actually began graduate school at MU in the late 1970s before eventually joining the Army Reserve. While in the reserves, Roseann met her future husband.
“The trajectory of my life completely changed when I joined the reserves,” Roseann said. “And now, 40 years later, I’m back where I started.”
Hannah is the youngest of six children. Her interest in nutrition came at an early age, as Hannah and her mother are self-proclaimed foodies. Roseann made sure all of her children could cook and understood what was in the food they were consuming.
“With six kids, food was always part of the equation,” Roseann said. “Preparing food was just part of our parenting routine. We watched a lot of Star Trek and cooked a lot of food.”
Roseann and her husband relocated a few years ago to a farm south of Columbia, in the Ozarks. She said nutrition will continue to be an important part of her day-to-day life.
“We’re definitely thinking about food production and nutrition on a consistent basis,” Roseann said.
Nutrition has become more important for Hannah, too, after graduating from Stephens and living on her own.
“Going on my own journey as an adult, nutrition is a big part of that,” Hannah said. “I’ve been doing a lot of discovery, and I know a lot of others are going on that same journey. I have a vision of what I would like to do in the future, too, and a degree in nutrition and exercise physiology, combined with my previous degree, will help me reach some of those goals.”
Hannah has a passion for helping others. She has talked often with her mother about how she could help underserved populations with nutrition and health.
“I’m neurodivergent and have ADD,” Hannah said. “I understand what it’s like to have the concept of good nutrition, to have the read about everything and researched it, but yet struggle to translate it to my life. There are so many people out there who know about what they should be doing, but they can’t always make it work. I want to help those people.”
Hannah said that there were a couple of huge draws for the accelerated master’s coordinated program in dietetics, one of which was the opportunity to find the networks and resources to make her goals a reality. Within the accelerated program, students complete a bachelor’s in nutrition and exercise physiology, with an emphasis in nutrition and foods, and a master’s in dietetics. The time also gives students all of the coursework and internship hours necessary to take the Registration Examination for Dietitians.
“The possibility of starting out working toward a bachelor’s degree, and if you play your cards right, you go right into a master’s degree, was too good to pass up,” Hannah said. “Plus, there are so many opportunities to find networks and connections, and I really enjoy finding those resources and putting the pieces of the puzzle together.”
Hannah and Roseann said they are both continuing to work toward finding their fit as nontraditional students, something that they get to work through together.
“It’s been really important to me to figure out how everything mixes together,” Hannah said. “I want to find where I fit in and where I can make an impact. Helping people is so important to me, and I’m excited to find where the journey takes me.”
“This was all Hannah – she did the work to find the program and it’s been really interesting to be here and be part of it all,” Roseann added. “It’s been a bit humbling, too. We’re here together – this isn’t about my star. We’re learning together and going through this journey as a team. I’m excited to see where it takes us.”