National Nutrition Month 2021: Talking with Graduates of the Master's in Human Nutrition Program


Editor's Note:

All across the country, graduates of our Master of Science in Human Nutrition program are working hard to improve the health and habits of the customers, clients and communities they serve. We had the pleasure of speaking with several of these alumni and discussed the impact this program had on their careers. 

Tina Miller, MS RDN FAND

Nutrition Outreach, United Dairy Industry of Michigan

"Every aspect of my career has involved education in one form or another. My Master’s program at EMU has helped to make me a better, more creative educator for consumers and for dietetic students alike. One of the most valuable skills I gained from my EMU Master’s degree program is how to evaluate the latest and greatest nutrition claims, emerging research and the food industry trends to make sure that I provide sound, science-based messaging for consumers.

After earning my advanced degree at EMU, I felt more confident and developed a strong desire to serve the dietetics profession through leadership roles in the Michigan Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. So many great opportunities exist for credentialed dietetics and nutrition professionals. I hope that through service and education I have made a positive impact on advancing the profession that I love and have helped to empower the next generation of Registered Dietitians."

Nick Pomante, MS RD

Wellness Coordinator at Eastern Michigan University

With nutrition serving as his foundation, Nick has dedicated himself to bringing people toward better health and well-being. Through his journey, Nick has become passionate about examining the interconnectedness of well-being and how things such as financial stability, mental health and sleep may impact nutrition status. During his tenure at EMU, Nick has dedicated himself to cultivating an environment in which all students can succeed. 

"The flexibility of the Master's in Human Nutrition program at EMU gave me the opportunity to explore my career interest in corporate wellness while completing my non-thesis research. Working with faculty to learn about and create a corporate wellness program gave me the skills I needed to land my first job as a Wellness Coordinator before I had even graduated! As I've grown professionally I'm continually impressed with how well-rounded of an education I received from EMU. I feel as though my studies have prepared me for so many of the aspects of the field that you see out in the real world. "

Dawnmarie Chmiel Yelcho, MS CHE

Executive Director of the Culinary and Hospitality Program, Oakland Community College

Article by Nancy Parker, MS RD:

In May of 2001, Dawnmarie Chmiel Yelcho, MS, CHE earned her Associate of Liberal Arts in Culinary Arts at Schoolcraft College. Little did she know at the time where that career choice would take her. Dawnmarie has had an exciting journey over these last 20 years developing her skills as a Sous Chef, a Food Safety Director, an Executive Chef, and a nutrition educator and instructor. In between her career moves, she earned a Bachelor of Science in Dietetics in 2010 and a Master of Science in Human Nutrition in 2020, both at Eastern Michigan University. Her most recent move in January of this year has landed her a position at Oakland Community College (OCC) as the Executive Director of the Culinary and Hospitality Program.

As the new Executive Director, Dawnmarie wears four hats and administers Culinary and Hospitality, University Dining, Events and Catering, and Continuing Education, tasks that take an exceptional amount of management and organizational skill. Culinary and Hospitality is in the process of moving from the Orchard Ridge campus to the Royal Oak campus at OCC, where a new building is to be built housing modern kitchens and providing space for the Culinary Studies Institute. As Dawnmarie explains, “It is a multimillion-dollar project…that will focus on farming and agriculture and farm-to-table, something that I am passionate about. The Orchard Ridge kitchens will also get a redesign.” Part of the plan for the institute may include Freight Farms, a company that supplies 40-foot movable containers housing vertical, hydroponic sustainable food systems. These containers could assist the program in its farm-to-table philosophy. Currently, OCC Culinary and Hospitality is working on a plan to partner with Bowers School Farm for farm-to-table.

Dawnmarie also is responsible for overseeing University Dining, Events and Catering, and Continuing Education. “University dining is mainly a vending system administered by Continental Vending,” she explains. However, Culinary and Hospitality manages four restaurants available to OCC students, faculty, staff, as well as to the general public: OCC to Go, Ridgewood Café, Reflections Restaurant, and Ridgewood Bakery. Unfortunately, her third supervisory role, Events and Catering, has all but ended due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Dawnmarie states, “2019 was the biggest year for restaurants” and for the catering industry however, the year 2020 was the complete opposite. In Dawnmarie’s final role, she is responsible for overseeing Continuing Education within the culinary/nutrition purview. Although this is a current program, she plans to “start from scratch” by leveraging the OCC learning management system to assist in developing hybrid and online courses.  A variety of continuing education classes will be included such as Serv Safe certification, TIPS certification, and celiac disease/gluten-related and vegan-based coursework.

In the end, Dawnmarie reflected on her career, “I’m always in the right place at the right time.” She also enthusiastically praised both the Dietetics and the M.S. in Human Nutrition programs.  She explains, “Time at EMU did pay off…I liked dietetics so much.” Likewise, during her time in the M.S. in Human Nutrition program, Dawnmarie taught classes, wrote a cookbook, presented culinary demonstrations, and participated in research projects. “It was a very personalized experience,” says Dawnmarie. She also recognized the faculty and staff by saying, “I can’t tell you how helpful they were.”

The faculty and staff are proud of you, Dawnmarie!

The Human Nutrition Master's program at EMU offers students the opportunity to network and build meaningful professional relationships to ensure a job post-graduation. This program is only offered online and remains a flexible option for those looking to extend their education in nutrition with job prospects in healthcare, business, education, or human performance. Visit the program page here to learn more about the program today.