Matthew Stark

Program coordinator, Department of Nutrition and Dietetics, College of Health and Human Sciences

Matthew Stark

What year did you start working at NIU?

Where is your hometown? and where do you live now?
Somonauk, Illinois, was my hometown and I now live in Sycamore, Illinois.

What is your job title?
Program coordinator

Where did you attend school? What degree(s) did you earn?
I attended NIU for both my undergraduate (graduated spring '10) and my master's degree with the dietetic internship (graduated summer '12).

If you attended college, were you a first-generation student?
I was the first in my family to go to a university. My father did go to a trade school and received his associate degree prior to my birth.

Describe your typical day—what do you do while at work?
My typical day can be all over the place. You could say that I do not have a typical day. I work collaboratively with faculty and staff within the nutrition and dietetics department regarding our program and our plans for the future, and I consistently work with students in both undergraduate and graduate fields. I help them with applying for internships at the undergraduate level, ensuring all knowledge competencies are met, give advising help to graduate programs and ensure all students are on the correct path for graduation. I also track data for our program to make sure our goals are being met and work collaboratively with other individuals within the School of Health Studies when needed.

What do you like about working at NIU?
I have really enjoyed my time at NIU. Transitioning from a student to a staff member has really opened my eyes to everything that occurs at NIU that students do not see. I enjoy working with students to help them see what their future can hold and how we can help them achieve those goals.

What advice would you give to students currently attending NIU?
That remote learning can be a challenge but is definitely obtainable. I am in a similar role as them due to the fact that I am a new employee who has only worked remotely since being hired. Keep reaching out to faculty and staff when you are unsure of what the expectations are. Never be afraid to advocate for yourself or just ask questions.

What is your favorite campus event?
I have always enjoyed homecoming and being able to see previous classmates again.

In what ways do you see your colleagues help foster student success?
My colleagues work with students every day and help teach them skills to be great dietitians. They routinely go above and beyond with helping students determine what they need to do to be successful at NIU and after they graduate.

What is your favorite memory of NIU?
Being hired at NIU as an alumnus who graduated from the program.

What did you want to be when you were growing up? Are you currently doing it? If not, what changed your path?
I always wanted to be a professional athlete when I was growing up. Unfortunately, this did not work out for me, obviously. When I was in high school, I began having an interest in nutrition and exercise. I found out that I could go to school and obtain a job in the nutrition field. I started researching it during high school and saw the program that NIU offered. At that point, I knew that NIU was where I wanted to go to become a registered dietitian.

Are you a member of or hold a position within a professional organization? If so, what organization? What is the purpose of that organization and how does being part of this organization benefit you in your role at NIU?
I am a member of both the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and the Illinois Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. The purpose of these organizations is to advocate for the profession through research, education and advocacy. These organizations are helpful for me as a dietitian as they provide valuable information to me regarding the profession and its future.

What community organizations are you involved in?
I am not involved with any community organizations at this time, but I am the staff associated with the Student Dietetic Association here at NIU.

What do you do to relax or recharge?
I enjoy hanging out with my family, working out, taking on home improvement projects and doing woodworking.

Is there anything else you'd like to share about your NIU Huskie story?
I really appreciate being able to tell my story to whoever is reading it and hope that it inspires someone to reach for the stars when it comes to their goals!

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