UT Tyler

Graduate Student Alumni Spotlight

Health Sciences MS

Sara HansonStudent Name:  Sara Hanson

Program: Master's in Health Sciences

Graduated: 2014

Employer: St. Paul Children's Foundation

Position: Full-time Dietitian

What attracted you to this field?

I saw a need in the community for children to not only be fed, but to be fed well. Many children in poverty are not getting the quality of food they need and often become overfed but undernourished. For some, it is a lack of resources. For many, it is a lack of education, motivation, or confidence. Yet there is a much bigger problem going on beyond an individual or even familial level. People need an environment that allows for positive change. They need a chance to be heard rather than told what to do or not to do; to share their struggles, brainstorm ways around their barriers to health, and be supported in their efforts. They need to know they are valued, loved, and worthy of living a live that flourishes.

Why did you choose UT Tyler?

UT Tyler wasn't my first choice. I was considering the Baylor School of Public Health when situations that were out of my control brought me to Tyler. When I went to visit the campus and meet with the professors, I was praying to God that he would give me wisdom and direction and affirmation if UT Tyler was where I should be. After a series of unexpected events, such as meeting an old friend who I knew from Arkansas, or seeing a hawk as I walked through the campus, or talking with Dr. Cooper about community gardening, I could tell it was exactly where I needed to be. I couldn't be more thankful for my time and education at UT Tyler.

What do you like most about UT Tyler?

I loved the international student and professor population, especially within the Health and Kinesiology Department. The intentionality I had with the students and professors alike was so unique and impactful. My time as a graduate assistant gave me an opportunity to connect with those in my field of study and network with people locally, nationally, and globally. At UT Tyler, my mind was stimulated in such a positive way, my heart was stirred with hope and excitement for the future, and some of my dreams began to come true. But my favorite part about attending UT Tyler is still the relationships I developed and am continuing to engage in.

What are your career aspirations?

I hope to promote health and optimum nutrition wherever I am led to go to the people who need it most. My heart is for the vulnerable, the children, the hungry, the sick, the oppressed, the abused. I hope to guide people towards behavior change, to offer support or advice to nutrition or feeding programs for children, to promote and facilitate gardening and outdoor experiences for children, and to influence policy change towards more sustainable, healthy futures.

What is your work experience?

My primary focus is counseling children and their parents about nutrition and weight management. I am also part of a garden club that teaches 5th grade boys about God and about gardening as part of an after-school program, Wonderful Wednesday. My work experience is unique in that I've been creating a position as a dietitian working in a nonprofit medical setting with a predominately Hispanic population.

Do you have any advice to pass along to other students interested in this program?

Get to know your classmates. Spend time communicating with your professors. Take time to learn about a culture different than your own. Get involved with something bigger than yourself. Take advantage of the Outdoor Recreation activities. Take walks around the campus. Stand under the sun and soak it in. Breathe. Enjoy the gift of education. Travel to new places when possible. Risk failing, but don't lose hope. Remember that you were created with a purpose and you have a unique role to play in this little place we call earth.

Find out more about our MS in Health Sciences

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