Brenda Bertrand, professor and director of the UAB School of Health Professions’ (SHP) M.S. in Nutrition Sciences program, is winner of the 2019 Outstanding Dietetics Educator Award from the Nutrition and Dietetic Educators and Preceptors (NDEP).

The NDEP is a group within the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics with more than 1,300 educator and preceptor members. Their award program recognizes excellence in four areas, Bertrand was honored in the Coordinated Program category for the South Central Region, which covers Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Illinois, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Missouri.

“I really want to give students the skill of critical thinking because if they can think critically, then they can work through any problem and have the confidence to do that – they become empowered,” said Bertrand, who also recently earned the UAB Provost Award for Transformative Online Courses and the UAB Quality Enhancement Plan Teaching and Innovation Development Award.

Outside of her job specifications, Bertrand volunteers as a research mentor to students, which includes 13 members of the SHP Undergraduate Research and Honors program and multiple graduate trainees in the UAB Nutrition Obesity Research Center. She completed the rigorous Quality Matters Higher Education Peer Reviewer Certification program and is certified to help others improve the quality of their own courses and their teaching methods.

Elizabeth Kroeger, MS, RDN, LDN, a PhD candidate in the Department of Nutrition Sciences, says Bertrand makes her students her top priority.

“She goes beyond just providing knowledge and focuses on developing the overall skill sets needed for students to be successful as not only the next generation of dietitians, but also the next generation of dietetic educators,” said Kroeger who has studied under and been a mentee of Bertrand’s since 2009.

“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. “You also need to work with them to see the dream as multidimensional 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.”

Dr. Bertrand has completed eight leadership programs over the past decade including UAB’s Blaze Leadership Academy, which “prepares high potential faculty and staff to take on positions of senior leadership and become the stewards of UAB’s future.”

As director of the M.S. in Nutrition Sciences program, she created three new tracks, one certificate program, and assisted with the development of a dual degree program. Collectively, the MS in Nutrition Sciences program options creatively fill the needs of future and current nutrition-based health care professionals.

Prior to joining UAB, Bertrand was an associate professor and MS program director at East Carolina University. There she was recognized by ECU College STAR (Supporting Transition Access and Retention) for her work supporting students that have learning differences. In senior surveys, undergraduates consistently recognized her annually as “The person at ECU who made the most significant positive contribution to my education.”

Her impact on individual lives continues at UAB.

“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, MS, RDN, faculty instructor and dietetics practice coordinator, UAB Nutrition Sciences’ Education Mission. “I look at Brenda as my lifelong advisor, mentor, teacher, role model, and, most importantly, friend.”