Pictured above – Samantha Hutson, assistant professor in Tech’s School of Human Ecology and winner of NDEP’s North Central Outstanding Dietetic Educator Award

NDEP consists of over 1,350 educator and preceptor members

A Tennessee Tech University faculty member in the School of Human Ecology has a new industry honor to add to her roster.

Samantha Hutson, assistant professor and dietetics graduate program director at Tech, is the recipient of the Nutrition and Dietetic Educators and Preceptors’ (NDEP) “Outstanding Dietetic Educator” award for 2024 in the north central region.

NDEP consists of over 1,350 educator and preceptor members, making its awards a sought-after recognition in the nutrition and dietetics field. Hutson was nominated for the award by her Tech colleague and friend, Allison Coutinho.

Mallory Mount, north central regional director for NDEP, says the awards are a way of showcasing the “dedicated and passionate” educators who provide students “with the knowledge and confidence they need to excel as a future nutrition professional.”

Hutson says the award was as gratifying as it was unexpected.

“I was honestly surprised,” said Hutson, reacting to news of the award. “Preparing our students to be dietitians and readying them for the jobs they want to have is incredibly motivating work. I’m just grateful.”

Darron Smith, dean of the College of Agriculture and Human Ecology at Tech, commended Hutson on her national recognition.

“Dr. Hutson is a valued and dedicated faculty member who has taken our dietetics graduate program to the next level. Our students have a leg up in their careers because of the expertise and perspective that she brings to her instruction every day,” said Smith. “We are proud to see her receive this well-deserved honor.”

Hutson has taught at the university since 2013 and helped launch its dietetics graduate degree program in 2019.

“It was a new degree program, so we had to apply for approval from THEC [the Tennessee Higher Education Commission] and apply for accreditation. All of that happened just before the pandemic,” Hutson recalled. “We were able to admit our first group of students in the fall of 2021 and we have now graduated our first group of students from the program, which was so exciting.”

A native of nearby Sparta, Tennessee, Hutson says she was first inspired to pursue a career in dietetics to give back locally and help solve challenges like food insecurity and hidden hunger. 

“We do try to focus on community nutrition. Our students are interested in a practical approach – what can they do locally? We work hard to provide them with hands-on opportunities,” said Hutson. “We have had a lot of students from the undergraduate program show an interest in staying in this area, giving back here and working here. We felt like community nutrition and an emphasis on rural health would best serve our students.”

But Hutson’s service as a faculty member is not her only connection to Tech – she is also a proud two-time graduate. Hutson says she infuses her experiences and memories as a Tech alumna into her role today.

“I always tell prospective students about my history at Tech,” said Hutson. “I have been at other universities for various other programs and degrees, but I sort of always find my way back here. We have the best faculty and the best staff; people who truly have an interest and focus on the student and wanting them to succeed. I think you see that across the university.”

Photo courtesy of Tennessee Tech.

Other stories you may want to check out:

Submit your story ideas to the Upper Cumberland Business Journal! via email.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.