Making the Grade: More Than An “A”

"I took a pretty killer biochemistry class, and ever since then I can’t get enough!” Chelsey Neeley’s biochemistry class wasn’t actually homicidal, but it was so exciting that her enthusiasm has not yet waned. Chelsey’s energy for learning would set her apart in any crowd. Once she decided that dietetics was her future, she began investigating programs. “I knew that I needed to be in a place with the perfect atmosphere,” Neeley explains. “I decided on BYU, and from that point forward I’ve spent two years getting ready to get into the BYU Dietetics program.”

Neeley and her group receive instruction from Professor Susan Fullmer (standing)

“’s more important to know the information and be able to apply it than just having a piece of paper with an “A” on it.”
“I’ve always been fascinated with dietetics and how the things we eat turn us into who we are. Learning about food and metabolism and its effect on the body has always interested me,” Neeley said. A portion of this interest sprang from growing up with family members who are diabetic, which first showed Neeley how carefully everyone should take care of themselves. “I began to have the desire to find out, wanting to learn more on my own. I learned how crucial it is to learn to eat right,” Neeley said. BYU’s Dietetics program is a forerunner in the field and is known for producing leaders. Neeley’s background led her to dietetics, and when she learned about the BYU program she knew that it was the right place for her.

The BYU Dietetics program has a specific list of learning outcomes, which consist of the education in both knowledge and attitudes that a student should expect to obtain upon completing a program. One important point among the Dietetics learning outcomes is being able to establish and use leadership skills. “I know that within the major there is a leadership program set up that gives you an opportunity to be a leader right from the start, even among your peers,” Neeley said. “In the field of dietetics you need to learn to be both a leader and a follower, and through BYU I’ll have an opportunity to learn from both my professors and fellow students.”

Dietetics majors leave the program with applicable knowledge and skills. Neele (l) with Dr. Nora Nyland, NDFS (r)
Unique students help to create the distinctive atmosphere of the College of Life Sciences. Faculty members are aware of the different needs of each student, and want to help them succeed. “I am dyslexic, and school has always been a huge challenge for me,” revealed Neeley. “When I was reading through the mission and learning outcomes, I remember a letter from Dr. Nora Nyland, Dietetics Program Director, saying that the focus isn’t just on grades, but on really coming to know and retain the information and being able to apply it. I work really hard for good grades, but to me it’s more important to know the information and be able to apply it than just having a piece of paper with an A on it.”

While every student strives to earn the best grades possible, the dual vision required to learn the material and to be able to use it is one that BYU creates in students. Getting the cap and gown is a huge personal achievement, but as Chelsey Neeley put it, “I would love to use my knowledge and personal experience to help others who struggle. BYU gives me that kind of opportunity.”

By Alex Aggen