NUNM nutrition students complete a capstone project for which they are required to draw on all aspects of the curriculum to develop a final project, research paper, or complete an internship. Here is a glimpse of the excellent capstone projects completed by some of our undergraduate nutrition students.
Throughout my time at NUNM, I have become increasingly interested in childhood nutrition, particularly in relation to the food our vulnerable population of low-income children are receiving at school. For my capstone project, I implemented a healthier version of the free-breakfast program at a local elementary school here in Portland. Post-graduation I plan on continuing to evolve my passion for childhood nutrition by finishing the clinical portion of my lactation consultant program and becoming an internationally certified lactation consultant.
I am the generator and visionary of the year-long group project, “The Reforestation and Beautification Capstone.” From my background in horticulture, and observation of campus I had the ideas to grow mushrooms on the north side of the academic building and to create a large container garden in the south facing corner of the East parking lot. I inspired action, created the proposals, the fundraising campaign, and organized our efforts. This capstone is the first actualization of a greater vision: to reforest every urban and suburban center in the world to end food insecurity and mitigate poverty. Follow the full story on Instagram @regenerativecapstone or my website.
I am graduating this June with a BS in Nutrition. These past two years at NUNM have been wholly enriching as I learned about the food insecurity epidemic in the U.S., what action I can take to make a difference, and how to cope with inequity on a personal and spiritual level. The motivation of my capstone project was to address the food insecurity issue on campus by designing and building several permaculture-inspired installments. It has shown me what is possible with food production in an urban landscape, and my hope is for all of us to share in its benefits as a community. Next fall, I plan to dive deeper into the spiritual power of medicine in the MS of Oriental Medicine, and look forward to seeing all your familiar faces.
For my senior capstone project, I partnered with three classmates on the “Reforestation and Beautification of NUNM campus” project with a vision of eradicating food insecurity through the implementation of high-yield, low-maintenance, food system designs. I specifically focused on community outreach: sourcing musicians, live artists, food donations, creating posters, and tabling information sessions leading up to the event. Next year, I will be continuing studies in the M.S. in Nutrition here at NUNM with a focus on community nutrition.
Navigating the constant onslaught of diet advice in our everyday lives can leave us feeling exhausted, confused, and frustrated, with no idea who or what to trust. One minute, we are hearing that coconut oil is our golden ticket to health. The next minute, the American Heart Association is releasing a report condemning the saturated fats in coconut oil, claiming that they can lead to atherosclerosis and cardiovascular disease. Keeping up with, or even understanding, the newest research can be difficult for the average person. Therefore, they often rely upon the knowledge of their healthcare providers to help them discern what eating style is genuinely healthy and what is hype. As a future nutrition-focused healthcare professional, it is likely that many of my patients will ask for my opinions on various diets. I need to not only understand the latest scientific arguments surrounding the particular diets, but it would also be beneficial if I could supplement that knowledge with my own first-hand experience of the diets. Therefore, my capstone project is a pair of video episodes that document my experiences with two popular diets. By combining the most up-to-date research along with my own personal opinion, these episodes will help create a more well-rounded approach for me to work with my patients when faced with their concerns about various diets.
Erian Goodson and Rachel Kronemann
Erian and Rachel joined forces for their undergraduate capstone project. The goal of their project was to bring awareness to the community by offering a perspective much of the population has been steered away from, using food as medicine. To do this, they hosted two screenings of the film, Food as Medicine, in partnership with the Food as Medicine Institute. During their time at NUNM, they both learned how impactful the food system, personal nutrition, community/ public health, and poverty are.
I began volunteering for The Aphasia Network in August of 2017. The Aphasia Network provides support for stroke survivors and their families by hosting events that bring the Aphasia community together, by offering resources and support groups, and much more. For my senior capstone, I created a Nutrition Needs Assessment Survey for the Aphasia community, and am using the results to create nutrition resources, such as meal plans and recipes, for The Aphasia Network website. Meeting stroke survivors and seeing how having Aphasia impacts nearly every aspect of one’s life, and having the opportunity to use my education to support this community, has been a truly, humbling experience.
While completing his BS in Nutrition at NUNM, Kjell embarked on a journey through the Portland permaculture scene as his capstone. A theme throughout has been connection: to the soil, instead of ubiquitous “food products,” as the foundation of good nutrition; to our neighbors in the built environment as part of thriving community; and through sharing work and meals with community members to provide a quality life experience. This process involved: completing an industry standard Permaculture Design Certification (PDC) course; volunteering with NPO City Repair as part of planning for the Village Building Convergence (VBC), an annual week-long event happening in June 2018; and working with three NUNM students to further manifest permaculture on the NUNM campus in June as one of nearly 30 plus VBC “Placemaking” sites across Portland. Kjell’s next steps are to provide expertise to others using permaculture principles on their urban sites, to continue volunteering with City Repair, and to attend a master’s degree program in environmental science in the next year.
For my capstone project, I am working with two fellow students to create a cookbook focused on plant-based, seasonal, and local recipes. Our aim is to encourage and inspire others to get into the kitchen, get cooking, and launch into a healthy lifestyle. After graduation, I would love to use this project as a stepping stone for creating my own nutrition education business in the future.
For my capstone, I worked with the Age Wise Institute teaching a series of nutrition workshops at a low-income aging community in Northeast Portland. The workshops were funded by Mary’s Woods, at Marylhurst University. The goal of this project was to help an underserved population gain the knowledge they need to improve their self-management of various health concerns and improve their loneliness through cultivation of community around food. In the future the Age Wise Institute has a plan to bring more nutrition workshops to multiple sites in Portland, making more work-study positions.
I collaborated with two classmates (Danica Marsh and Venessa Ordorica) to create a Pacific Northwest inspired cookbook as our final capstone project. This unique cookbook consists of mostly plant-based breakfast, lunch, dinner, snack, dessert, and drink recipes with a focus on foods that are grown during the spring and summer seasons. My specific contribution toward the establishment of this cookbook was creating the 24 recipes. The sole purpose of this cookbook is to provide nourishing recipes that will in turn promote optimal health and deepen ones connection with food through a whole-food nutrition approach.
As a member of the Cherokee Nation I chose to focus my capstone project on assessing food security and food sovereignty within the urban Indian community. I am currently working with NAYA, who supports over 300 different tribes, in creating a culturally supportive Food Security and Sovereignty questionnaire. My goal is to share this questionnaire with other organizations who support urban Indians. After graduating with my BScN I will be returning next fall to NUNM to earn my MScN.
Want to see more student capstone work? View additional Capstone Projects.