Alumni Nutrition

For the love of food

Two things have played leading roles in CPHHS alumnae Julie Hood’s successful career – a love of science and a love of food.

Two things have played leading roles in CPHHS alumna Julie Hood’s successful career – a love of science and a love of food. Hood, who graduated with a BS in community nutrition in 1979, recently received the 2011 Central Oregon Community College Faculty Achievement Award.

OSU’s robust nutrition curriculum based on science “gave me a strong foundation for all I’ve done in a varied career over 30 years,” she says.

Julie HoodHood, who has taught human nutrition for 23 years at COCC, says, “While I love all my classes, I do have to say that it’s especially fun to teach nutrition because I love helping people understand the value of science and research. There are so many myths in the field of nutrition! It’s great to be a myth-busting scientist!

“The best aspect of teaching is watching students collaborate on a project and seeing their satisfaction when that process has gone well. I think students have a lot to offer each other, and while they’re together here at school, I hope to help them teach each other!”

Hood credits her parents with her lifetime commitment to helping others. Her physician father and humanitarian mother traveled worldwide sharing their talents and resources. Between high school and college, she spent a year helping them start a hospital in a tiny, war-torn Nigerian village without electricity or running water.

“It was hard seeing the suffering, and the impact that year had on me was life-changing. It became clear to me that education was a way to help people to take the best care of themselves, their families, their society — even to save lives.”

Hood says that her background in medicine has influenced her teaching style. Instead of memorization, she prefers realistic case studies to help students understand the interrelationships among the body’s systems.

“I want students to connect what they are learning and how they will use it in their lives. I hope I can inspire my students to love to learn – not to think that sitting in a classroom and passing exams is the end, but the beginning of truly learning. When students tell me that they have connected something they learned in class and something outside of class, that’s really the best.”

In addition to human nutrition, Julie teaches anatomy and physiology as well as other nutrition courses. She designed, implemented and served as director of COCC’s Dietary Management program for 11 years. She has also served on a numerous college committees. At Bend Memorial Clinic, she maintained a private practice as a nutrition therapist from 1979 to 2001. She has served as chair and co-chair of the college’s Allied Health department since 2009. Her interest in improving learning motivated her to earn a doctorate in educational leadership two years ago based on her own research about how students can improve their learning.

Julie says it’s her students who inspire her. “It is wonderful to watch students feel proud and empowered as they learn they are capable. I am honored to be a part of the lives of students in my courses. I understand the struggles of being in school, holding down a job, taking care of family, all at the same time. It takes a lot of guts to do what so many of these students do.  I am enriched by their stories and their will to learn.”