Bertrand succeeds by helping students reach for their dreams

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rep brenda bertrand 550pxDuring her more than 23 years teaching at UAB and universities across the Southeast, Brenda Bertrand, Ph.D., has helped hundreds of students fulfill their goals of launching careers in nutrition science. But her mission is to learn what makes each student unique.

“You have to come from a place where you remember the student is a person first, and from there, see what support you can give them to help them realize their dream,” said Bertrand, a professor in the School of Health Professions Department of Nutrition Sciences and director of the graduate Nutrition Sciences program. “You also need to work with them to see the dream as multi-dimensional, so it is not just about coursework. To reach your dream is also about networking and the soft skills you need to develop as much as the hard skills you are developing.”

Bertrand was one of 12 faculty selected to receive the 2019 UAB President’s Award for Excellence in Teaching, awarded annually to recognize excellence and achievement that is a part of UAB’s shared values. This was the latest in a string of honors recognizing her dedication to students. Earlier in the summer, Bertrand was named the winner of the Outstanding Dietetics Educator Award from the 1,300-member Nutrition and Dietetic Educators and Preceptors group of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. She also has won the UAB Provost Award for Transformative Online Courses and the UAB Quality Enhancement Plan Teaching and Innovation Development Award.

“Dr. Bertrand is a treasure in our school, for her department and especially for her students, who are the real beneficiaries of her talent.”

“When I reflect back on all of my own experiences over the last eight years, I can attribute all of the most impactful ones to Brenda and can confidently say that I would not be where I am today if it weren’t for her guidance and genuine care for my wellbeing,” said Tara Harman, faculty instructor and dietetics practice coordinator for UAB Nutrition Sciences’ Education Mission. “I look at Brenda as my lifelong advisor, mentor, teacher, role model and, most important, friend.”

Bertrand has worked to create new graduate program tracks, degrees and certificate programs in the School of Health Professions, including the Dietitian Education Program, which enables undergraduate students at UAB to achieve the professional credential of Registered Dietitian Nutritionist. She has published dozens of articles in peer-reviewed publications such as the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior and the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

“Our education programs, especially those targeting dietitians, are recognized as among the best in the nation and much of the credit for this goes to Dr. Brenda Bertrand,” a colleague wrote in nominating her for the Excellence in Teaching award.

Another colleague said: “Dr. Bertrand is a treasure in our school, for her department and especially for her students, who are the real beneficiaries of her talent.”