News Release | Media Center

July 9, 2024

As Allison Martin realizes a long-term goal this summer of entering the Army Medical Specialist Corps, she is reflecting gratefully on the education, experiences and support she gained at Northwest Missouri State University to help her attain that goal.

Martin graduated from Northwest in April with a master’s degree in applied health and sport sciences, adding to her bachelor’s degree at Northwest in foods and nutrition with a dietetics concentration.

She recently became one of just 14 candidates throughout the country who were selected this year to join the Specialist Corps as a clinical dietitian and for direct commission as an officer in the US Army.

“Every class really set me up for whatever job I wanted to get into,” Martin said, noting the benefits within Northwest’s dietetics program of learning about the clinical environment while enhancing her skills and building awareness of community issues. “Nutrition just isn’t, ‘Well, I’m going to give you a diet plan.’ It gets into food service and clinical nutrition and knowing how to work with someone, to counsel them through different issues.”

Martin, a native of Wisconsin, started her college education there before joining the Army. After three years of active duty at Joint Base Lewis McChord in Washington, she and her husband were relocated to Lincoln, Nebraska, and she continued serving as a member of the National Guard for the next seven years.

Simultaneously, she held a desire to one day finish her bachelor’s degree. That led to a visit to Northwest.

“It was summertime,” Martin said and recalled thinking, “’Man, this is really nice, and it’s a small school.’ So that’s how I decided.”

Allison Martin has been selected to join the Army Medical Specialist Corps after completing a master's degree in applied health and sport sciences and a bachelor's degree in foods and nutrition with a dietetics concentration.  (Photo by Lauren Adams/Northwest Missouri State University)

Allison Martin has been selected to join the Army Medical Specialist Corps after completing a master’s degree in applied health and sport sciences and a bachelor’s degree in foods and nutrition with a dietetics concentration. (Photo by Lauren Adams/Northwest Missouri State University)

Martin, 36, has long held an interest in becoming a dietitian. After finishing her bachelor’s degree with the support of the GI Bill, she completed Northwest’s dietetics internship and began exploring opportunities for a master’s degree to strengthen her qualifications.

Conscious of her goal to apply for the Specialist Corps and the Army’s five tenets of the Holistic Health and Fitness model – nutrition, physical, sleep, spiritual and mental readiness – Martin earned a personal training certification and enrolled in Northwest’s applied health and sport sciences program to round out her skill set. She continued gaining clinical experience outside of her coursework in roles with Mosaic Medical Center in Maryville and Care Initiatives in Des Moines, Iowa, among others.

Furthermore, Martin took advantage of opportunities to work closely with faculty and staff and built relationships with peers that made her feel at home at Northwest.

She was vice president and treasurer of Kappa Omicron Nu, the success network team coordinator and vice president for the National Society of Leadership and Success, and president of the Northwest Student Dietetic Association. She also served as president of the Student Veterans Association, which lends support to Northwest’s annual 9/11 stair climb event as well as Bearcat athletics. She participated in Northwest’s annual Missouri Hope emergency response field training exercise as well as Atlantic Hope, which simulates a humanitarian crisis, too.

While pursuing her master’s degree, she worked as a graduate assistant in the School of Health Science and Wellness and became involved with Exercise is Medicine, an initiative to promote physical activity and improve the health and well-being of the Northwest community. And last spring, Martin was a nominee for Northwest’s Graduate Assistant of the Year award.

She says being a non-traditional student may have provided her an advantage.

“I had more life experience coming into college. I think for me it was easier to understand some of the concepts I was learning, but it was also easier for me to be a leader to other students and set an example.”

The Specialist Corps, a branch of the U.S. Army’s Army Medical Department (AMEDD), is comprised of occupational therapists, physical therapists, clinical dietitians and physician assistants. Each year candidates participate in a lengthy interview process that includes a board review and ends with the selection, varying by specialty, of only the most qualified individuals.

“Everyone that I worked with at Northwest in any capacity truly shaped not only my career, but I could not have gotten into AMEDD without every single one of them helping me and providing education and experience along the way,” Martin said.