Olivet dietetics professor merges horses and health in her multi-dimensional career

Time management is key for Professor Jamie Neven ’16, Illinois’ top barrel racer for three consecutive years.

November 16, 2018 Uncategorized

Jamie Neven’s days are often a blur of teaching classes and grading; training barrel horses, giving lessons to barrel racers and managing horses (which includes riding and showing them) on Wayne Ruel’s farm in Kankakee; working out and practicing for competition. She also owns a private dietitian practice and has an understanding fiancé, Cole Galloway, who supports her in all of this. 

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In the two years since she graduated with her bachelor’s degree in dietetics from Olivet Nazarene University, Jamie has accomplished three of her career goals.

Olivet student and barrel racer

Transferring to Olivet in 2013 — the second semester of her freshman year — was not part of Jamie’s original plan. But as she settled in, she was determined to complete her dietetics degree while continuing with her career as a barrel racer, living at her home in Bourbonnais and working at Ruel farms. 

A competitive rodeo event for both men and women, barrel racing involves a horse and rider attempting to complete a cloverleaf pattern around preset barrels in the fastest time. Barrel racers earn prize money for placing in the top of a competition. 

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This event is competitive and physically demanding. “First and second place at a barrel race can be as close as .001 seconds apart,” Jamie says. “And my mother always says a prayer before I run because many of my fellow competitors have been seriously injured during races.”

Jamie began competing in this event at age 12. For five consecutive years, she qualified for the National Barrel Horse Association Youth World competition as one of 2,500 competitors from seven different countries. In 2016, she competed in her first professional rodeo. Today, she travels and competes on the barrel racing circuit with the National Barrel Horse Association and Illinois Barrel Racing Association. 

Early on, she decided that all of her winnings from barrel racing would go toward paying for her education. She did accomplish that goal. 

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After graduating from Olivet in 2016 and while competing in barrel racing, she completed the required 1,200 accredited dietetics internship, working as a dietetics intern with Sodexo on campus and in the community with Riverside Medical Center and Riverside Diabetes Center. She also completed her master’s degree during this time.

Later, she worked part-time as a dietitian with Sodexo — as Olivet’s first campus dietitian — and continued with barrel racing.

Olivet professor and dietetics professional

Jamie’s second dream was to complete her master’s degree in dietetics and open a private practice. Today, she is a licensed dietitian in Illinois and Indiana. In her own private practice, she works with equestrians on weight management, healthier eating habits and sports nutrition.

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In spring 2017, Jamie began teaching in Olivet’s dietetics program as an adjunct professor. She teaches courses in professional issues and actions, and nutrition, health and fitness. “I teach during the day, meet with my clients in the evenings and have barrel racing competitions every weekend from April through October,” she says. “This schedule gives me a lot of flexibility.” 

One of her biggest supporters in all areas of her professional life is Dr. Catherine Anstrom, her undergraduate dietetics professor and now her departmental supervisor at Olivet. “Jamie is extraordinary,” Dr. Anstrom says. “You would never know the load she carries professionally. The high quality of her work and her commitment to our students is exemplary. I look for her to accomplish many more great things as a horseman and a registered dietitian.”

Olivet alumna and fan

Jamie will be the first to say that Olivet is woven into every aspect of her adult life. “I thought I was just coming to Olivet to get an undergraduate degree, but I got so much more,” she says. “I love Olivet and the community here.” 

She appreciates the excellent preparation she received in Olivet’s dietetics program and the high standards set for how to dress and act professionally, network and serve in the community. “As an Olivet student, I learned how to interact with colleagues on a professional level,” she says. “Olivet’s dietetics program prepared me to be brave enough to move forward with graduate school, licensure and starting my own private practice.”

Her advice to current and future dietetics majors is based on her personal experience. “Your grades are extremely important,” she says. “Research internship opportunities well before you apply. The placement rate for dietetics internships is less than 50 percent. Have a passion for learning and for helping others.”

To learn more about Olivet’s dietetics major, contact the Office of Admissions at admissions@olivet.edu or 800-648-1463.


Photos submitted by Jamie Neven. Used with permission.

Published: 11/16/2018

Student on main campus wearing pink sweater and holding water bottle.

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