RGU hosts 40 year Nutrition and Dietetics student reunion

Robert Gordon University (RGU) recently hosted an alumni reunion for a group of former Nutrition and Dietetics students who graduated 40 years ago.

(L to R) Donna Seymour, Sheila MacNaughton, Elaine Sargeson, Susan Sødal, Linda Boodhna, Alan TorranceSix members of the first degree-level Nutrition and Dietetics class of 1976 paid a visit to the university’s Garthdee campus on Friday, September 9 to learn more about the laboratory facilities and technology available to students.

RGU alumni Donna Seymour, Elaine Sargeson, Linda Boodhna, Susan Sødal, Sheila MacNaughton and Alan Torrance spent a weekend in Aberdeen where they shared more than 240 combined years of career experience and memories of their time at what was then Robert Gordon's Institute of Technology (RGIT), now Robert Gordon University.

Donna Seymour initially contacted the university’s Alumni Team to set up the visit, which included a guided tour through RGU’s modern laboratory facilities in the School of Pharmacy and Life Sciences by staff Susan Lennie and Harriet Young.

Donna said: “It’s been great to be back at Robert Gordon University in Aberdeen after graduating 40 years ago in 1976. We have each had long and enjoyable careers which opened a number of doors for us and took us around the world.

“Back in our student days we were expected to acquire a thorough grounding in all aspects of dietetics through being general dietitians, so after graduation we all worked as Basic Grade Dietitians.”

The graduates then went on to work as dietitians, consolidating their knowledge and experience, and their career paths went in different directions, including:

  • Public Health Nutrition
  • Lecturing, external examining
  • Nutritional advice to elite athletes
  • Authoring and publishing
  • Presenting at national and international conferences
  • National health promotion campaigns
  • Establishing comprehensive eating disorder services
  • Establishing nutritional assessment tools 
  • Innovative approaches to delivering and funding dietetic services 
  • Contributing to setting up dietetic services and an association in another country

Donna said: “Our grounding at RGIT gave us many skills including analytical thinking, communication skills, project management, strategic thinking and planning, nutrition and dietetic expertise and management skills, all of which are readily transferable to various sectors.

“We were delighted to be offered a campus tour and were overwhelmed by the kind reception we received from the staff of RGU's Nutrition course, alumni and communications teams, and wish to thank them for their warm welcome.

“We were all very impressed by the new campus and facilities and remarked that 40 years ago calculators were such a scarce item they were screwed to lab benches and all our assignments were handwritten. How times have changed!”

Professor Donald Cairns, Head of RGU’s School of Pharmacy and Life Sciences, said: “I was delighted to welcome students from the first cohort of degree-level graduates in Nutrition and Dietetics to study at RGU, and to hear of their experiences and adventures as Dietitians in practice.

“I was also pleased to see how keen the alumni were to visit the School and view the modern facilities for Dietetics in The Sir Ian Wood Building.”

Susan Lennie, Senior Lecturer and Programme Leader for Nutrition and Dietetics, said: “It has been wonderful to use the visit of our Alumni to explore the rich history of nutrition and dietetic education at Robert Gordon University. 

“As the profession has grown and changed over the years, it was clear from meeting our Alumni that our educational approaches have been enhanced alongside this. 

"Hearing about the fancy dress parties of student life back in 1976, and seeing the strong friendship bonds created was definitely a highlight and shows that our students haven’t changed too much!  It is exciting to think about what the profession, the course at RGU and our students will look like in another 40 years."

Claire Shaw, Head of Alumni Relations at RGU, added: “We were very pleased to hear from Donna and her classmates and help our colleagues from the School of Pharmacy and Life Sciences facilitate their visit to Garthdee.

“We are eager to further strengthen links with our alumni community and visits such as this help us to showcase our modern, riverside campus and also share in our graduates’ success throughout their careers.”

Release by Jonathon Milne
Communications Officer | Health and Social Care
Press and Media Enquiries