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New group aims to create a community for nutrition students

Monday, 21 May 2018

OUNA board image
OUNA executive...(L-R) Jeremiah Kapadia (second-year rep), Rose Stirling (first-year rep), Kathy Paige Xu (secretary), Claire Carville (third-year rep), Vince Costa (treasurer), and Jessica Thompson (president).

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Jess Thompson presents about the aims of the OUNA.

On a Friday night when many students are either hitting the books or taking a breather from studying, about 150 students gathered at St David’s Lecture Theatre to find out about Otago’s newest student-run association: the Otago University Nutrition Association (OUNA).

The association held its inaugural Info and Sign-up Night and networking event on Friday 11 May.

The inclusive group is open to students in Human Nutrition, Sport and Exercise Nutrition, Food Service Management, or Nutrition Communication.

Newly appointed OUNA President Jess Thompson says the association aims to encourage students to “become more involved in the nutrition course and to create a more holistic experience while studying nutrition at Otago”.

“Students do much better in their studies when they all help each other. We want to create a community for nutrition students, help develop a great support system for our members, and help in forming friendships which will lead to peer-assisted learning.”

By organising social, academic, sporting and cultural events throughout the year, Jess says she hopes OUNA will help its members develop a “good life balance” during their time at Otago.

The group also has plans to provide volunteer support to organisations such as KiwiHarvest and All Saints' Fruit and Vege.

The idea for OUNA came from Associate Professor Lisa Houghton, Head of the Department of Human Nutrition.

“I had a wonderful experience as an undergraduate student myself to be a part of a nutrition association and was very keen to help facilitate a similar student run organisation here at Otago,” she says.

“A key objective for me is to ensure that student, staff and alumni relations are developed and maintained – and I can see already from the first event that OUNA will allow students to develop a sense of community.

“Of equal importance, staff walked away from the sign-up mix and mingle evening feeling engaged and inspired by the enthusiasm of the students.”

Jess, who one day hopes to become a community dietitian and run her own business, says response to the new group has been “fantastic” so far.

“We’ve received momentous amounts of positive feedback. All the students are super keen to get involved and are really excited for the events to come.”

Plans for more social events and a career evening are already in the works as well as a combined ball with students from Surveying in August.

Find out more on the OUNA Facebook page.

OUNA event crowd image
About 150 students gathered at St David’s Lecture Theatre to find out about Otago’s newest student-run association: OUNA