College of Public Health and Human Sciences alumna Jenny Jackson, PhD ’15, has received the 2015 Student Leader Award from Oregon State University for her contributions to students, the community and Oregon.
Jenny, who graduated with a degree in Public Health with a concentration in Health Promotion and Health Behavior, is one of five Oregon State students given the honor by the Women’s Center as part of the Women of Achievement celebration. The awards recognize and celebrate the outstanding contributions of scholarship, leadership and service of undergraduate and graduate women at Oregon State.
“Helping others makes me feel alive,” Jenny says. “It is part of what gives my life meaning and purpose. If my work has benefited students even half as much as working with and learning from them has benefited me, then I consider myself successful.”
“Helping others makes me feel alive. It is part of what gives my life meaning and purpose.”
With more than five years of experience as an instructor in the Nutrition and Dietetics program in the CPHHS and 10 years as a preceptor for OSU and Oregon Health & Science University dietetic interns, Jenny says her aim is to provide students with experiential learning opportunities that contribute to their educational goals and career aspirations.
As an instructor, she developed projects for dietetic students to participate in community outreach activities on campus, at local elementary schools and at the local youth shelter. As the advisor for the Student Dietetic Association, she supported student leaders in developing a community garden and initiating the annual National Nutrition Month® event on campus.
“Similarly, I strive to involve dietetic interns in ‘real world’ teaching and learning experiences,” she says. “Most recently, I have enjoyed working with interns on a community-based research project – GROW Healthy Kids and Communities.”
As a graduate research assistant with GROW, Jenny has been instrumental in developing family-home and school environmental assessment tools that help researchers understand environmental conditions that enable or hinder healthy eating or physical activity behaviors.
“She is an exceptional communicator and can translate challenging ideas and concepts in a way that ensures all learners receive and understand the information,” says CPHHS Associate Professor Kathy Gunter, who nominated Jenny for the award.
Also serving as a mentor for undergraduate and graduate student thesis projects, Jenny has spent countless hours providing professional advising services and writing letters of recommendation.
“I would like to see all children and families have equal access to resources that support healthy lifestyles.”
“She is an outstanding teacher in the classroom and online, where her teaching evaluations are the envy of any teacher,” says CPHHS Professor Melinda Manore. “She consistently obtains the highest teaching evaluations regardless of her class size because she is knowledgeable, listens and cares about students, and her passion for nutrition is infectious.”
She is currently working as a postdoctoral research associate in the CPHHS and says her degree has positioned her to develop an independent program of research around the promotion of healthy lifestyles and prevention of chronic disease.
Her research examines associations between family nutrition and physical activity factors, food security and body mass index among children and families living in rural communities. Her long-term research goal is to inform practice, policy and program development that promotes healthy eating and activity behaviors among limited-resource populations.
“I want to help others achieve lifelong health and wellness,” Jenny says. “I believe an effective way to accomplish this is through community-based research that involves community members in the research process. I would like to see all children and families have equal access to resources that support healthy lifestyles.”
Jenny has served as a volunteer, board member and president of the Oregon Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, where she has developed a collaborative network among food and nutrition policy advocates within the state.
She was recently elected as Oregon’s delegate to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics House of Delegates (HOD).
“Being elected to that office is a reflection of the confidence and support she has among her professional colleagues,” says CPHHS Associate Professor Mary Cluskey. “From my perspective, Jenny never approached any task or request without the utmost professionalism, a goal of optimum performance and a positive spirit.”