College Outstanding Senior excels in research, leadership, and international service

Nutrition and food science student and College of Health and Human Sciences Outstanding Senior Award recipient Savanah Elliott embodies the Colorado State University land-grant mission. Elliott has maintained an impressive 3.96 GPA and is a candidate to graduate magna cum laude in December. She has also found time to volunteer on campus and in the broader Fort Collins community.

Born and raised in Basalt, Colorado, Elliott decided to stay close to home for college.

“I chose to attend CSU for its accredited and highly praised dietetics program,” Elliott said. “Being in-state, attending CSU has allowed me to stay near my family and the beautiful Colorado mountains.”

Elliott has excelled in all that she undertook at CSU, and that success is all the more admirable considering that she has supported herself financially throughout her years here.

“I continually apply for scholarships to help cover my tuition,” she said. “In order to make ends meet, I also work multiple jobs year-round. While I pride myself on my independence in this aspect, it has not been easy.”

Campus leader

Savanah Elliott in India smiling with children
Savanah Elliott in India

Elliott became a successful leader within the campus community as the president of the College of Health and Human Sciences Dean’s Leadership Council, guiding a 30-person board to bridge communication between students and administrators.

“Leadership, combined with curiosity, has allowed me to continually learn from others,” she said, “and exposed me to seemingly unattainable opportunities, such as coordinating the McCubbin Leadership Event, a college-wide event inviting students to a professionalism panel and networking mixer.”

Elliott also had the opportunity to work in the College’s Office of Development as a scholarship coordinator. While in this position, she was an invited speaker at a 300-person Scholarship and Alumni Awards Brunch about her experience as a scholarship recipient.

One of her most significant experiences was through The Invictus Initiative. Through the nonprofit organization, she had the opportunity to travel to India and Nepal for three weeks.

“During this trip, I led health education seminars in rural tent camps and spent time with children in orphanages and schools,” Elliott said. “Our goal was focused on building relationships and promoting sustainable and empowering solutions in these struggling communities.”

Research experience

Savanah Elliott presenting her research poster.
Savanah Elliott presenting her research poster at the Celebrating Undergraduate Research and Creativity Showcase.

Elliott has excelled both in the classroom and as a research assistant in the Health Behaviors Lab in the Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition.

“The faculty at CSU has been incredible,” she said. “They continually broaden my horizons and fueled my desire to continue my education. In the classroom, Professor Chris Melby always kept me on my toes learning the ins and outs of metabolic pathways. Although difficult at the time, his challenging course remains one of the most enjoyable during my college career.”

Through her work in the Health Behaviors Lab, she has been traveling to eastern Colorado to help run community-based interventions aimed at examining nutrition and physical activity behaviors and environments in early childhood. Laura Bellows, the lab director and associate professor, has been a key mentor in her success working in this lab.

As an HBL research assistant, Elliott was awarded “Best in Show” for her research poster and presentation at the 2019 Celebrating Undergraduate Research and Creativity Showcase. (Read more about her research on SOURCE). She also earned first authorship on a forthcoming manuscript about the research, an impressive achievement for an undergraduate student.

Plans after graduation

After her graduation in December, Elliott will be applying for dietetic internships across the nation. She hopes to start on her path to becoming a registered dietitian in the fall of 2020.

In the meantime, she will continue working on campus in the Health Behaviors Lab. This upcoming summer, she will be joining a research team lead by doctoral student Brittney Sly in Rwanda, Africa. In Rwanda, the team will be collecting data in a community consisting of women who were introduced to kitchen gardens coupled with nutrition education. (Read more about the research project in Rwanda on SOURCE.)

This summer, Elliott will also be spending six weeks improving her Spanish and working under a dietitian in the Trujillo Regional Teaching Hospital located in Peru.

“What I will miss most at CSU is the relationships I have built within the campus community,” she said. “I have been very grateful to have found a community that is welcoming, encouraging, and inspiring. The connections that I have made will be lifelong.”

The Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition is part of CSU’s College of Health and Human Sciences.

Read about more of the outstanding graduates in the College of Health and Human Sciences.