Tammie Brown will be the first to tell you: This year has not been easy. As a dietetic intern and Master of Public Health student in Samford University’s School of Public Health, her plans of completing her required rotations in clinics, school systems and hospitals were completely disrupted by COVID-19. Yet, through the grace of God, she says, Brown made it through. This December, she graduates and reaches the finish line of her seven-year journey.
After serving in the U.S. Army for 20 years, Brown was looking for what to do to next. She had always been an athlete, staying fit during her time of active duty, but after leaving the army with injuries, she had fallen into some unhealthy habits. With the initial goal of losing weight, she decided to make a few lifestyle changes, but ultimately, this decision would start her on a path to a career in nutrition and dietetics.
In 2013, Brown enrolled as an undergraduate student at Lipscomb University to pursue a major in nutrition and dietetics. Living in Huntsville, she drove to Nashville, Tennessee every day for three and a half years to attend class—all while continuing to care for her family, including her young son.
Two years into her undergraduate studies, Brown opened her own business, Restoring Bodies Fitness and Nutrition Services. Through her business, she began to offer fitness and wellness programs for older adults in her community. But the final step of her education was not yet complete. To be eligible to take the national dietitian certification exam, Brown had to complete a dietetic internship. Her professor recommended she learn more about Samford.
“I’m so thankful that my professor at Lipscomb referred me to Samford,” she said. “She told me, Tammie, it’s going to be great fit for you. And she encouraged me to earn my Master of Public Health too. She saw it in me before I did.”
Brown started Samford’s dietetic internship and its online Master of Public Health program in the fall 2019. She completed two rotations before the COVID-19 pandemic forced everyone to adapt. “I’m good at adapting because of my background [in the army],” she said. “I just did a lot of praying and communicating with all of my faculty, preceptors and instructors,” Brown said. “It was difficult; I’m not going to lie. But I was able to see it through.”
Her plans after graduation are to pour her education back into her business. “I’m ready to employ my knowledge in real life,” she said. Her vision for her business is to bring fitness, wellness and nutrition programs to the older generation in her community. “I want older people to be comfortable with lifting weights; I want them to know how nutrition affects their bodies as they age,” she said. “I want to teach them so they not only age gracefully, but they live boldly. The aging process may not be graceful, but it’s how we go about it.
“I want people to live boldly. If you allow yourselves to fade into the background, you will fade from life. But if you take a bold step and say: I am here to stay until I take my last breath, then that is what you’ll do,” she said.
Further development of her business is just the beginning for Brown. With her knowledge and experience, Brown is interested in partnering with local departments of health, non-profit organizations and corporate businesses to develop nutrition and wellness programs. The sky is the limit. “Whatever the Lord lets me do, that is what I’m going to do,” she said.