Stepping up to the plate: Dietetics graduate returns to MSU as campus dietitian

Taylor Nixt '22, dishes on her first full-time job in this Q&A

December 21, 2023 |

Taylor Nixt in student dining center at a table with health and nutrition information and resources.

What does the campus dietitian do?

As the campus dietitian, my goal is to educate students and faculty on nutrition and wellbeing. I devote a significant amount of time to working with students who have food allergies, intolerances and other dietary needs. My aim is to ensure that their dining experience on campus is both safe and social. I am also responsible for overseeing the wellness programming on campus, which includes planning Mindful Food and Fitness events, such as Smoothie Bikes, Trail Mix Bar and Mindful Tabling events. In addition, I work closely with Student Health Services to offer one-on-one counseling to students who have specific nutrition-related goals.

Did you ever think that as an intern for the campus dietitian you would become the campus dietitian?

The idea of becoming a campus dietitian had always been at the back of my mind. My internship at Minnesota State Mankato was a valuable experience, and I had a great mentor who showed me the ropes of the position. Despite that, I went into my post-graduate internship in Utah with an open mind, eager to learn more about the different dietetic work environments. Throughout my rotations, I discovered that nothing quite matched the unique environment and pace of being a campus dietitian.

What are you seeing in terms of food/dietetic trends for students?

I have noticed a growing interest in plant-based products, particularly plant-based milks. Other notable trends include mocktails, gut-health products like fermented foods and probiotics, food boards such as charcuterie boards and butter boards, and delivery meal services and meal kits that offer healthy eating options for people on the go. Additionally, natural sweeteners and the use of hydroponics or other sustainable methods of growing produce have become increasingly popular.

As you step into this new role, what are your goals?

I am focused on fostering stronger connections and partnerships within the campus community, the local community and with other Sodexo campus dietitians. Collaboration is key to making a positive impact and improving the world around us. I aspire to enhance the clarity of messaging and safety protocols for students with food allergies. 

I also aim to revamp the wellness programming offered during the school year to better align with current health trends and student needs. These initiatives will help to create a safer, healthier and more inclusive environment for all students.

How did your time at Minnesota State Mankato help prepare you for this step in your career?

My degree has been invaluable in providing me with the necessary academic foundation to comprehend the real-world responsibilities of working as a dietitian. The knowledge and skills I gained during my time at Minnesota State Mankato helped ease my transition from the academic realm to practical applications quite seamlessly. Apart from academics, I honed my leadership and networking skills by actively participating in various student groups on campus. It’s safe to say that my degree from Minnesota State Mankato has been the backbone of my professional career, and I am immensely grateful for the experience. I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world.

What are some of your favorite memories as a student at MSU? 

The Student Dietetic and Nutrition Organization (SDNO) meetings were an absolute pleasure to attend, and I found them to be an excellent source of enrichment. During my last two years at Minnesota State Mankato, I had the opportunity to bring in practicing dietitians andlocal community members to share their expertise regarding their role and how it applies to nutrition and dietetics.

 Learn more about the Dietetics program