Alumni Spotlight: Recent Grads Jessica McGovern, MS, RD, LDN and Larkin Kimmerer, MS, MPH by Lisa D’Agrosa, RD

I had the chance to sit down (virtually) with two recent Friedman alumnae — Jessica McGovern and Larkin Kimmerer. They both landed great jobs right out of school and I wanted to know more about their experiences.

Jessica McGovern, MS, RD, LDN

Jessica is the School Nutrition Consultant for the Maine Department of Education Child Nutrition Services. She graduated in May of 2012 with a degree in Nutrition Communication.

Jessica works to communicate the new USDA school nutrition regulations, set by the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, to school districts across the state of Maine. She spreads the word through newsletters, presentations, and various other communication methods. She will also be reviewing menus for individual school districts to determine what changes need to be made in order to meet the guidelines. And she will get to travel across the beautiful state of Maine to give presentations and to support school food service directors and school administrators.

After graduating, Jessica knew she wanted to move to Maine. She heard of a position here in Massachusetts from the Somerville Food Service Director, with whom she interned last summer, working with schools and doing outreach and communications. She thought a similar position might be open in Maine, but didn’t find anything when she looked on the Maine Child Nutrition Services website. Jess sent her cover letter and resume to the email address listed on their website, thinking it was a long shot. She heard back two weeks later and was hired two weeks after that.

While she learned a lot at Friedman that applies to her current work, the policy class (NUTR 226) has been the most helpful. Reading over lots of policy papers during that class helps her interpret the regulations for the new meal pattern much more easily. Understanding how government programs run and the legislation behind their creation has been very beneficial to Jessica in her job.

Larkin Kimmerer, MS, MPH

Larkin was a dual MS/MPH student at Friedman in the Agriculture, Food and Environment program. Nutrition was also her MPH concentration. She graduated in February, 2012.

She currently works on a wide breadth of projects as the Community Nutrition Programs Manager with Foodlink, the regional food bank in Rochester, New York. She oversees the nutrition education programs (including Cooking Matters, KidsCAN, and community health fairs) and is also in charge of the BackPack Program, which partners with local schools to send hungry children home on the weekends with a backpack full of food. The Garden Project, which installs community gardens at various agencies like food pantries, also falls under her domain. The food grown in these gardens goes directly into the Emergency Food System.

Larkin is also the Hunger Study Coordinator for Foodlink. In this position, she will coordinate research at a local level for the Feeding America’s Hunger in America 2014 study – the largest and most comprehensive study conducted nationally of clients and organizations providing charitable food assistance. With all those responsibilities, her day-to-day tasks include organizing meetings, helping write grant narratives, planning programs and creating outreach materials.

She loves getting to be out in the community, and that her job requires a lot of organization. The biggest challenge is learning to manage people, in addition to programs.  One of the other challenges  presents with her work on Foodlink’s development team.  She develops materials that appeal to donors and writes letters to potential donors and sponsors to ask for money.   It was not a skill she had ever been taught, and asking people for anything, let alone money, has always been challenging for Larkin.  At the end of the day, it’s all worth it because she loves her work and makes a difference.

Larkin was able to land this great job in part because of a successful internship. She met the Director of Development for Foodlink at a conference in 2009, which turned in to an internship a few years later. As her last semester of Friedman was wrapping up, she got in touch with Foodlink and was offered a job. She can’t stress enough how important it is to network and work hard at your internships to leave a positive impression.

Larkin learned a lot at Friedman that she uses regularly for her job. Her background knowledge of food assistance programs and policy helps her because she deals with agencies who serve low-income clients. And, while she admits that learning things like logic models, grant writing and program planning could be a bit painful, she uses those skills the most.

Lisa D’Agrosa is about to begin her second year as a Nutrition Communication student. She is excited to spend fall season in New England – watching football, picking and eating apples and taking crisp, cool walks on The Esplanade. Hopefully, next time this year she will be happily employed as well.

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