James Madison University

Alumni Highlight - Jackie Sharp

PHOTO: Jackie Sharp

The experience during my four and a half years at James Madison University was very unique as the first undergraduate with a double major in Kinesiology - Exercise Science and Dietetics. I quickly discovered that in order to be healthy, one must possess a balance between both fitness and nutrition. It was one of my goals to learn as much as possible so I could have a well-rounded background to base my client education and training. This is why I decided to take on two completely different majors during my undergraduate studies.

While at JMU, I worked as a Fitness and Nutrition Manager, and Personal Trainer at UREC. I was able to apply the skills I learned in my Kinesiology courses each day at work. This was one of the many opportunities I was given to grow in this field. I was also fortunate enough to be accepted into the Jim White Fitness and Nutrition Studio internship program in the summer following my junior year.† Jim White is a Registered Dietitian, National Spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (formerly ADA), and a certified Health Fitness Specialist for the American College of Sports Medicine. His passion for the field of fitness and nutrition is directly reflected with his success in the studios he currently owns and runs. This was an excellent opportunity for me as he is in the position that I aspire to be in one day.

My experience that summer was incredibly challenging but also rewarding at the same time. I was given responsibilities such as starting up boot camp classes on the beach at 5:30am twice a week, meeting with builders to close deals for the opening of Jimís third studio, as well as assisting in the design of the new studio. I also created education materials for clients and prepared fundamental research for interviews with magazines such as Oxygen, Menís Health, Menís Fitness, and Better Homes & Garden. Needless to say, I was connected with the best mentor I could ask for. This internship gave me the confidence to move forward with my goal of starting my own fitness and nutrition studio. My experiences during this internship helped me turn my dream into a future goal.

PHOTO: Jackie Sharp

After graduation it was time to apply for an accredited dietetic internship program which is required for eligibility to take the registration examination for dietitians. I was accepted into a combined Masterís in Science and Dietetic Internship program at North Carolina Central University in Durham, NC. This was a very intense 10-month program filled with a full class schedule in addition to on-site clinical and community experiences. Graduation from the internship program meant that I was eligible to take the examination for registered dietitians and I had 1 year of graduate school out of the way.

Currently I am a Registered Dietitian working as Sodexoís first Wellness Clinical Manager in Savannah, Ga. I have been able to apply both my fitness and nutrition background to implement wellness programs for the hospital employees. In addition to my full-time job, I am also offering nutrition counseling online. I am scheduled to take the ACSM Health Fitness Specialist exam, as well as the Spinning Instructor certification at the end of February and then plan to complete my Masterís degree online in the Fall.

JMU gave me countless opportunities to excel in whatever path I desired to take, which has led me to where I am today. I continuously use my education and experiences I received during my undergraduate studies and am very proud to be representing JMU down in the South!