February 20, 2015 – Jamika Smith, a Fort Valley State University senior majoring in food and nutrition, is this edition’s spotlight student. Smith recently earned a Holley B. Alley Scholarship from the Georgia Nutrition Council.
The GNC, a nonprofit organization, brings together nutrition specialists to confront the nutritional problems of citizens within the state. Every year, the organization presents the Holly B. Alley Scholarship to outstanding students. The award was named after Alley, a Peace Corps volunteer that taught nutrition in Central and South America. After she earned her master’s degree in nutrition, she became a nutrition specialist for the University of Georgia Cooperative Extension for 17 years, serving as a voice for the under-served populations.
Smith, is an honors student who hails from Columbus, Ga. The 23-year-old student has received numerous awards that include the Outstanding Freshman Award for the highest academic achievement in food and nutrition in 2011, the Sallie B. Watson Award for Proficiency in food and nutrition in 2013, the Volunteer Award for completing exemplary community service, and the Food and Nutrition Outstanding Senior Award in 2014. Additionally, FVSU recognized the student at several honors convocations.
“I have known Jamika for over two years as one of her research advisers and teachers,” said Dr. Linda D. Johnson, an associate professor of food and nutrition in a written statement. “Ms. Smith is respectful of her professors and her peers.”
According to Johnson, her fellow students elected Smith as the President of the Food and Nutrition Club, President and Commanding Officer of the National Society of Pershing Angels. The young scholar also belongs to the Fort Valley Science Club and the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
In addition to her honors, Smith volunteers in her spare time. She served as a volunteer student site coordinator to help Johnson execute a mini grant — Share Our Strength’s Cooking Matters, No Kid Hungry Program. She helped train local child care professionals to prepare healthy meals.
“I taught them how to prepare child friendly meals that are vegetable based,” Smith said. “I also taught them that if kids are more involved in helping to prepare their meals, they are more likely to eat them.”
She also presented an abstract and poster presentation based on the research that she did for the grant before the Georgia Academy of Nutrition and Dietetic Professional Exchange at its Atlanta, Ga. Conference in 2014.
Smith is also conducting ongoing research.
“My current research focuses on the vital role of nutrition for people with sickle cell anemia based on my work during Summer and Fall 2014 with the Association of Sickle Cell, Lower Chattahoochee Region in Columbus, Ga.,” Smith said.
Her involvement in the ROTC afforded her an opportunity to work overseas in Tanzania, helping to improve local communities.
Smith plans to become a consultant dietician. After she graduates in May 2015 with her bachelor’s degree, Smith will return to FVSU’s campus to enter the master’s degree program in Public Health Administration.
Once she earns her graduate degree, Smith will enroll in an Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND) accredited dietetic internship through the Division of Public Health in Atlanta, Ga. in order to become eligible to take the national examination administered by the Commission on Dietetic Registration to become a registered and licensed dietician.
Smith had this advice for students.
“It is never too late to do research,” Smith said. “However my advice to freshmen/sophomores is that it is in your best interest to start early. I never saw myself doing research at first, research for me really started as I volunteered with the Cooking Matters grant. So never turn down an opportunity to volunteer.”