"With the investment from others comes the responsibility, privilege and honor to support and provide opportunities for new dietitians."
Stella Hall Cash
Stella Hall Cash, MEd, MS, FAND, didn't follow a traditional career path to be where she is today: senior advisor to the President of Michigan State University and provost for international engagement.
Thinking back to 1958, Cash admits she didn't even know what a dietitian does when her high school home economics teacher suggested she become one. "In that era, the routes to a professional career were somewhat limited for women," she recalls.
Cash earned an undergraduate degree in dietetics and a master's degree in education before pausing her dream to raise a family. When her husband was recruited for a food science position at MSU, Cash was hired as "part of the package," serving as an academic advisor for dietetics students.
“I was a spousal hire, but by the time I found out what that meant, I had completed the experience requirements to become an RD, passed the RD Exam and was director of the didactic program in dietetics at MSU," she says. "What mattered was what I had done with this opportunity."
Several other opportunities arose for Cash during her more than 25 years as the director of dietetics at MSU: a TV cooking show with her daughter; working with the food industry, commodity groups and government agencies; and establishing Food Creations Inc. "For years, on behalf of Kellogg, I went to St. Jude's Hospital to work with some very sick children," Cash recalls. "I would never have had this opportunity had I not been a dietitian."
Within months of retiring from MSU, Cash returned to establish a sports nutrition program and later was asked to be the interim vice president and executive director of the MSU Alumni Association. "With MSU having one of the largest dietetics programs in the country, this role allowed me to interact with many of my former students," Cash notes.
Because of Cash's prominence in the community, Sparrow Health System recruited her for a new position in strategic community partnerships. As vice president of development and strategic partnerships, Cash recalls, "my second most impactful project was convincing Sparrow leadership that we needed to take health care to the most disadvantaged in our community."
Cash acknowledges those who have been influential during her career. "So many leaders, the President of MSU and CEO of Sparrow, my colleagues and family encouraged and gave me confidence to pursue new challenges," she says. "With the investment from others comes the responsibility, privilege and honor to support and provide opportunities for new dietitians."
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