Did you know that March is National Nutrition Month in the United States? Well, now you do.
Meet a Drexel graduate who lives every month like it's National Nutrition Month, Nyree Dardarian '03. Nyree has a passion for health and wellness that lasts year-round, and she's sharing it with Drexel faculty, staff, students, alumni and the surrounding community.
Nyree earned her master's degree in human nutrition from Drexel in 2003 and she is currently on the faculty in the Department of Nutrition Sciences in the College of Nursing and Health Professions. In September 2011, she became the co-director of the Center for Integrated Nutrition & Performance (CINP), an initiative of Dr. Stella L. Volpe, professor and chair of the Department of Nutrition Sciences.
Over time, a partnership between the CINP, Dr. Eric Zillmer, director of athletics, Dan Simmons, senior associate athletics director of recreation, and Vic Tringali executive director of University Wellness, grew into what is now Drexel Proactive Health.
Drexel Proactive Health, which is located on the first floor of the Drexel Recreation Center, provides a suite of customized holistic strategies for Drexel students, faculty, staff, alumni and community members to enhance health and optimize performance. It officially launched on February 13, 2013, and features personal training, nutrition counseling, and therapeutic massage, facilitated by trained specialists.
"The goal is to promote wellness in all ways," said Nyree. "Whether it's through nutrition, personal training or massage, it all falls under the same wellness umbrella. We are addressing a lot of needs that we see out there and we are so excited about health and nutrition."
Nyree runs the nutrition arm of Drexel Proactive Health along with Dr. Volpe and 8 student interns.
"We'll go out into the community and put on presentations, provide one-on-one nutrition counseling, develop nutritional posters, and just this month on campus we hosted a screening of the HBO documentary "The Weight of the Nation" followed by a panel discussion," said Nyree.
"What's really great is that because we are in an urban setting, we have the ability to reach out to the community to help local businesses as well as individuals improve their overall wellness," she said.
According to Nyree, since its grand opening in February, Drexel Proactive Health has seen an outstanding response from Drexel and the community. "We are University City's premier nutrition and wellness center," she said. "We hope to collaborate with the many professionals working in research and programming within the University and the community to provide a multidisciplinary approach to wellness. There is so much that we can accomplish with this Center, I hope people will reach out to us and say, we need more of this!"
In addition to her role at Drexel Proactive Health, Nyree runs the Individualized Supervised Practice Pathway Program (ISPP) at the College of Nursing and Health Professions. ISPP is a post-graduate program for students who have completed their undergraduate coursework in nutrition sciences but still need to complete a minimum of 1,200 supervised practice hours before they can sit for the exam to become a registered dietitian.
"I organize the placement and the preceptors for the students' 1,200 supervised hours," Nyree explained. "Our program provides top-notch learning experiences with highly qualified registered dietitians and many other expert health-care professionals, right in our backyard."
When asked what she enjoys the most about nutrition, Nyree answered: "Nutrition is growing field and we're learning new things every day that benefit us as individuals and a society. Nutrition is a part life; we all have to eat, the trick is learning how to eat to live, rather than live to eat."
Nyree explained that between teaching and her roles with Drexel Proactive Health and ISPP, her life is crazy – but she wouldn't have it any other way.
"Something keeps me here and I just can't leave it," she said. "If you asked me to cut back on one aspect of my work at Drexel I would say no, I want to hold on to it all."