From alumna to Nutrition Center interim director and Ph.D. candidate in 7 years

Story by Elizabeth Holland

Shelby Cox
Shelby Cox

Originally from a small town, Bruneau, Idaho, Shelby Cox grew up with both her parents as teachers at the local high school. Her mother taught Home Economics, which inspired Cox to watch cooking shows and try out new recipes for her family. She pursued her undergraduate degree in family and consumer sciences with a concentration in dietetics at the University of Idaho and a minor in communications. She then sat for her exam to become a registered dietician.

After completing the RD exam, Cox set off for Fort Collins to complete her master’s degree and met Melissa Wdowik, the founder and director of the Kendall Reagan Nutrition Center, on her first day on CSU’s campus.

“The first day I arrived in Fort Collins, Melissa met me in the middle of campus,” said Cox. “I was lost, looking for the elusive Gifford Building and she came and tracked me down. Working at the Nutrition Center under her was such a blessing. She has been one of my biggest mentors, especially as a new dietitian when I first arrived, she had so much experience and passion to offer and I give a lot of credit to her for the RD and director I am today.

Taking on the director role

Since Wdowik left to pursue other paths in the northeast, Cox has had the opportunity to serve as the interim director of the KRNC. ”I am so fortunate to have had the opportunity to grow in my position as the KRNC has grown as a clinic. In the seven+ years I have been here, so much has happened, moving to a new location in the Health and Medical Center, expanding our team and recently expanding to a telehealth service platform, and so much more. I am grateful to be along for the ride.” Shelby cooking

Cox also decided to continue her education by revisiting her Ph.D. in 2020.  As the current interim director of the Kendall Reagan Nutrition Center, Ph.D. candidate, and recent mother, Cox has found a way to pursue her dreams amid a global pandemic. “Doing my Ph.D. work while being director has many challenges, but the opportunity to link this important work back to the KRNC and our clients drives me to see it through,” Cox said.

Despite her many challenging endeavors, Cox has been able to combine her love of food and cooking with her passion for teaching on campus and in the community. Cox finds strength from her mentors here in the Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition, and has never looked back. “It seems a little crazy that I decided to do a Ph.D., become a mom, and keep my day job in the midst of a pandemic, but a year later I have no regrets and I am just taking it one day, one project, one step at a time,” she said.

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