An Uncompromising Diet

Honors and Awards News

FSHN Junior earns top honors from the Iowa Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics

When she was 10 years old, Jennessa Sharratt’s family began integrating both gluten-free and dairy-free products in place of her usual dietary staples. Due to a her mother’s newly discovered food allergy, Sharratt would now have to learn to adjust to new meals, treats, and snacks in locations where they wouldn’t necessarily be readily available; this meant making once-prepared meals from scratch and finding new favorites.

“I was pretty young when this happened and felt like it was a pretty dramatic change to suddenly have to eat quinoa pasta in place of gluten and avoid the cheesy goodness of dairy that I was used to enjoy,” Sharratt said.

While some might perceive a sudden household-diet change as a setback, Sharratt — still a child at the time — saw it as an opportunity to rise to the occasion.

“I was interested in finding a way to improve our diet quality while still meeting our needs, and then got pretty creative in the kitchen at this age,” Sharratt said.

Thus began the test of Sharratt’s uncompromising spirit.

A junior in Dietetics at Iowa State University, Sharratt is the recipient of the 2022 Outstanding Dietetics Student of the Year Award from the Iowa Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. The annual award recognizes the emerging leadership and achievement of students in dietetics education programs that are accredited by the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND).

For Sharratt, it was never about the award, but about trying her hardest to improve the life quality of others as she tried to do with her family. It’s this uncompromising spirit that spurred her desire to help people celebrate food for its place in culture while simultaneously learning how to prioritize their health as well, “without compromising the joys that eating can bring us.”

“I felt very complimented when told that I had been nominated but learning that I had received it was a whole new experience,” Sharratt said. “It really proves that everything I’ve been doing for the last three years at college has paid off, and that it’s worthy of being recognized. I’m glad that everything I’ve put into my college experience has helped everyone I’ve worked for, but also that it’s contributed to my field and has been recognized by leaders in dietetics.”

Helping her community has always been a part of Sharratt’s personality. In high school, the Winterset, Iowa native spent a lot of time volunteering, including at a local pharmacy and at a thrift shop. While she hasn’t really had a chance to continue her voluntary pace, that experience helped confirm her desire to work one-on-one with people.

She chose Iowa State because she felt that it would be a place that provided her with the opportunities she needed to succeed, and she hasn’t found a lack of them. She’s a member of the Food Science Club, where’s she’s been an executive club member for two positions; a Student Ambassador for the College of Human Sciences (CHS) where she shares her experiences with prospective students; a Nutrition Intern with the National Pork Board and an upcoming experience as an Application Scientist Intern with Grain Processing Corporation; and spends several hours a week tutoring at the Writing and Media Center — all of this while being an honors students, a member of the Gamma Phi Beta Sorority, and already designing a research study to evaluate virtual reality headsets and their incorporation into nutrition education.

Sharratt’s aspirations are to become a Registered Dietitian (RD), meaning she will move on to a master’s program in dietetics upon graduation, where she will serve in supervised practice in her clinical, community, and foodservice rotations. Upon receiving her credentials, Sharratt would “love” to work in the marketing/corporate/retail arena, where she can continue to help people through preventing chronic diseases because of diet before they begin. Though for her, uncompromising on one’s tasty dietary staples is not an option.