2023 Mary Eliza Parker Award Recipient Announced

We are pleased to announce this year's Mary Eliza Parker Award for Excellence in Nutrition and Dietetics Education recipients, Candace Gabrielle Tunac!

Candace's outstanding commitment to scholarship, research, and volunteerism is demonstrated below.  Congratulations, Candace!

Information regarding the application process for future graduates will be disseminated in early 2024.

Mary Eliza Parker, scholar and creative thinker, was a pioneer in college curriculum planning and a leader at Western Reserve University.  She was a native of Boston and graduate of Wellesley College with a major in classics.  She came to Cleveland to help establish a Department of Household administration and to serve as Head of that Department from 1913 to 1937.  Nutrition was an essential component in the Department.  The first student identified as a dietitian graduated in 1918.  Graduate programs in nutrition were instituted in 1929 under Miss Parker.  The Department of Household Administration later became the Department of Home Economics and then, in 1963, the Department of Nutrition.

Learn more about the award here.

Candace Gabrielle Tunac

portrait of Candace Gabrielle Tunac

Nutrition and Psychology Double Major, Biology Minor

Candace will graduate in May 2024.  She has worked as a nursing assistant at Parkside Villa, helping to feed patients and as a research assistant on a nutrition related project in the FPB School of Nursing.  She describes this as her most meaningful nutrition experience and says " Working on our manuscript "The Impact of Food Insecurity and Low Food Access Areas on Adults with HIV in the United States" as an undergraduate research assistant has emphasized the importance of food and nutrition in the symptom experience of immunocompromising diseases. Food insecurity is defined as an inconsistent access to food for each person in a household to live a healthy life. From this research, we observed that being classified as food insecure is associated with higher rates of neuropathy, headaches, memory loss and weight loss for people living with HIV. Because this patient population already experiences distressing symptoms, the effects of inadequate eating makes their symptom experience worse. Just by making nutritional food more accessible, people living with HIV could potentially endure less severe detrimental symptoms. This study analyzed the symptoms and food security status of people living with HIV in and around the Cleveland metropolitan area. These study participants are our neighbors, friends, and coworkers. It quickly becomes personal when you assess your own environment. Working on this manuscript was very powerful by demonstrating how much eating habits affect daily life and physiological health. It also highlights how low socio-economic factors negatively impact well-being. This research further emphasizes the importance of food equity and that more work needs to be done to improve food accessibility in underserved communities."