Karen Linden

Current Role: Administrative Support Assistant, Training Coordinator, Analyst
Current Organization: Department of Defense, United States Army
Graduate Program: MS in Nutrition Education
Graduate Year: 2015

Karen Linden during graduationWhat was your motivation or goal that prompted you to research and begin your degree program?

I really want to make a difference in the world. I was diagnosed with cancer in 2013 and thankfully survived but it completely changed my life. I went from military intelligence to nutrition because I found out just how important nutrition is. I found that many have not been properly educated in the arena of nutrition. So, that is what truly sparked my interest in obtaining my MS in Nutrition Education. I want to educate the world about proper nutrition. Through education we can help stop the rise in cancer cases as well as other health issues.

Please summarize how you would describe the program and your experience thus far to a potential student. What’s the programs biggest strength? How has the program exceeded your expectations?

I have absolutely loved American University’s online MS in Nutrition Education program. I have to admit I am quite sad that I am finished because I will miss it so very much! The AU program is not one in which you will skate by. It is quite challenging but the professors are extremely engaging, supportive and helpful. The professors truly care about the students and it shows with their dedication and interaction. I have taken part in many online programs at various universities and have found that AU has one of the best programs filled with top notch professors. As classes progressed I quickly realized that AU takes education seriously and most importantly the nutrition field very seriously. It was a breath of fresh air to see professors and staff so involved and passionate about the nutrition field. I have two bachelor degrees from other universities but it is AU that I am the proudest of. Not because of the accomplishment of obtaining my masters but it is the care and dedication that the AU community possesses. For example, I was not able to attend the graduation ceremony because of the military. One of my classmates found out and mailed me the graduation program. AU is like a family that I will miss greatly but will forever be a part of. This is the first time in which I feel a true connection to the university, classmates and professors.

What made American University the obvious choice as opposed to other higher-education institutions for you?

I love this question because I actually did research many schools. There were three that I was considering but it was AU that stood out above them all. The classes offered were classes that I was not only interested in but also could see myself actually utilizing. I reached out to AU and spoke with an admissions adviser and it was during that conversation that I instantly made my decision and selected AU. It was how my admissions adviser spoke to me with such sincerity that I first realized how much AU truly cares about its students. She engaged with me, asking me questions. She didn’t ask me questions that are the normal “check the block” type of questions but rather she asked me questions from truly “listening” to me. The finishing touch was the actual nutrition education program. It sounded perfect. It was everything that I was looking for in my quest to help others live a happy and healthy life, to making a difference in the world. I knew that AU would be the one to help me make that difference in the world.

Has the program assisted in your current role? If so, what courses did you find most helpful? What are the most valuable skills you learned?

I want to educate the world on proper nutrition. I am starting small by working here on the military installation my husband is stationed at. I developed a specialized nutrition education program with the help of my mentor, Prof. Tepper. News of the program spread to the Commanding General and I was invited to be on the Community Health Promotion Council, Obesity workgroup. I am now working with my Colonel and Major in developing nutrition education programs for the Fort Stewart military community. I hope to have this grow. My next step is to work with local schools here at Fort Stewart and Hinesville. I hope to eventually spread out to other military installations. My main goal is to develop a nutrition education program that will become military policy and be taught throughout the military.

Through the course taught by Prof. Tepper I developed a specialized nutrition education program for overweight Soldiers. My Captain welcomed my nutrition education program and I have begun working with the Soldiers. Another Captain heard about my nutrition education program targeting obesity and invited me to teach classes for the nutrition clinic on the military installation. The nutrition education program that I developed was not the usual “eat this, don’t eat that”. I personally have lost 150 pounds. I took it a step further and even utilized what I learned from Prof. Trietiak in really getting into the psychological aspect of behavior change. My nutrition education program takes the student down the path of realizing what their barriers are and why. It then looks into triggers as well as neuropathways and how to map healthy neuralpathways to successful healthy behavior changes.

How did the faculty keep the curriculum current?

The classes were challenging and I learned so very much! Each class presented a new and exciting challenge. The professors were up to date on the latest information as well as trends. Knowing the current trends is crucial in the nutrition field to better assist clients. The professors showed us how to stay current in our researching academic journals. There is a constant ever evolving change of information gained through the various studies. It is important to stay abreast to the most recent data to ensure current and relevant information to assist the public. The nutrition world is ever changing and evolving with the many diets that are available to the public.

Describe your graduation experience at the military base.

The experience was so amazing. I was blessed in that our military installation realizes that many of us, due to the military, are unable to attend graduation so they allowed us to walk across the stage and be a part of their ceremony. They welcomed me with open arms. To be able to walk across the stage is something that is hard to explain to someone. To be able to walk across the stage for this degree gave me a sense of accomplishment, pride and closure. It made getting this degree feel special and meaningful. My Colonel and Commanding General were both there to congratulate me as I walked across the stage. Having those two there to acknowledge my accomplishment was quite meaningful and appropriate in my quest to achieve academic achievements despite the military requirements of me.

Any additional comments?

The more I talk with people the more I realize just how important nutrition education is. American University is among the best of the best in the arena of nutrition education. I am truly honored and blessed to say that I had the chance to attend this amazing university. I feel as though I am better equipped to face any challenge especially in the nutrition field because of the outstanding professors and curriculum.

To learn more about American University’s online Master of Science in Nutrition Education, request more information or call us toll free at 855-725-7614.