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Ouachita Stories


A complementary career

How nutrition & dietetics pairs perfectly with a love for community

Dietetics students conducting labMay 21, 2020 - Emily Breckenridge

I didn’t think I’d still be here. Arkadelphia, that is. When I decided to go to school at Ouachita, I thought I’d spend four years here getting my undergraduate and leave for bigger and better things. It felt like almost anywhere was bigger than Arkadelphia, and if the place was so small, it couldn’t be that great. I was wrong.

Emily and her brother

Emily recreates a childhood photo with her brother on graduation day in May 2016. The original photo was taken during their move from Connecticut to Texas in 1999, when their family passed through Arkadelphia and visited Ouachita's campus for the first time.

I was born in Stamford, Conn., (about an hour outside of New York City) and moved to Dallas when I was five years old. Both cities kept me busy – and sitting in traffic longer than I wanted. By the time I was old enough to attend college, I had heard about Ouachita from my parents' friends and a few people from my church. I thought I would check it out! When I got there, I fell in love with the atmosphere and sense of community the campus provided. The hammocking and a few barefoot students did kind of throw me off coming from a concrete jungle, though.

I started classes in August of 2012. Right off the bat, I was in nutrition and dietetics courses, being reassured this was exactly what I wanted to do with my life. My professors, Dr. Detri Brech and Ms. Stacy Freeman, began to pave the way for my career and the job I do today! I was provided with many opportunities to serve in the community and learn about the role of a Registered Dietitian not only in the hospital setting but also helping people in a more personal way. The program was not easy, but I can say that almost four years after graduating, Ouachita could not have prepared me better for my career.

After marrying my husband, Joseph, we decided to stay in Arkadelphia. I later graduated from my Dietetic Internship in Little Rock, and a position came available at the health department in Arkadelphia (a place I had visited for my Nutrition and Dietetics Senior Seminar and was able to meet my future boss … though I didn’t know it at the time).

In January of 2019, I started my job as a WIC dietitian in Arkadelphia! This job combines my love of nutrition with my desire to serve my immediate community. I help babies who are not growing as they should, encourage mothers who may not have mental or emotional support at home and help children to be brave enough to try a vegetable – and stop drinking so much sweet tea.

Ouachita’s Nutrition and Dietetics program is continuing to grow, providing opportunities for students even beyond an undergraduate degree. The professors are working harder than ever to improve the education and experience for their students. I’m grateful for the training and opportunities they offered me!

And, as an added bonus, I had no idea that the little northern girl moving to Texas would make Arkadelphia her home 13 years later. It really is a great place to call home.


Emily and Joseph BreckenridgeBy Emily (Tual) Breckenridge, a 2016 graduate. Emily is a WIC Dietitian in Arkadelphia and is married to Joseph, also a 2016 alumni, who works as a children’s and connections pastor at Park Hill Baptist Church.