Jessica Nigg and Jennifer Watson, Iowa State’s distance education graduate students, are the winners of the Academy of Dietetics and Nutrition Foundation scholarship.
Watson and Nigg are both involved in continuing their education in apparel, events and hospitality management.
Watson, who has a bachelor’s degree in dietetics, an associate's degree in culinary arts and a master’s degree in food service and lodging management, said the scholarship she received is helping her pay for graduate school.
Watson said she is passionate about her field because she loves to teach.
“I love to eat, I love to cook and I love to tell people and talk to people about it,” Watson said. “I love teaching [...] it. I teach currently at a university here in Denver and I teach cooking classes to hospitality students and nutrition students. I like to talk about the importance of eating good food and being able to cook good food so you can either meet your customers' demands or help your clients eat healthy and meet their goals too.”
Nigg said the money has helped her not have to take out student loans, which she had to do when she started her Ph.D. program.
Nigg completed her bachelor’s and master’s degree at Eastern Illinois University before starting the long distance hospitality management Ph.D. program at Iowa State in 2017. She currently teaches at Bradley University.
“My research is in long-term care, food service and nutrition,” Nigg said. “So I just saw a need for it and that’s kind of where my passion lies.”
Nigg said the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Foundation scholarship application process was a longer application but nothing overly complicated.
“It [was] totally worth it in the end,” Nigg said. “[It was] a good experience that made me reflect on my research and what I wanted to get out of it and what I could contribute to the profession too.”
Nigg said her family inspires her most. Nigg has two children, ages nine and six, and a husband who is currently furthering his education as well.
“We are both kind of first-generation students,” Nigg said. “We are just trying to better ourselves that way. I will say my major professor, [Susan Wohlsdorf-Arendt], has been a wonderful, motivating force and is just a great support, a great teacher.”
Watson said her biggest inspiration to keep going is how much she enjoys teaching, and in order to do so she has to continue with her education.
“It’s not hard to get my students to come to class because usually we eat something at the end of it,” Watson said. “[...] It’s really rewarding to me when students are like, ‘oh that’s how you measure flour.’”
Nigg said she chose Iowa State to further her education because of how well-known the program is. Nigg said she was interested in food service and one of her colleagues suggested she look into the program at Iowa State.
Being an online student may present certain positives and negatives to the college experience. A benefit of being an online student is the support system formed with her peers, Nigg said.
“We’re on campus the first couple of years as a cohort and so for a few weeks during the summer we were kind of able to build those relationships and be really supportive of one another,” Nigg said. “[I have] a lot of my classmates and peers from a couple of summers ago; we still communicate and check in with each other.”
One of the challenges that may come up with being an online student, according to Nigg, is the lack of face to face interactions.
Watson, who lives in Colorado, said the biggest challenge for her is the time difference and using electronic communication.