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Valuing each person: Ann Roat ’70, registered dietitian

Posted: Apr 02, 2013


Ann Roat, Olivet's first graduate in the field of dietetics

Ann Roat ’70 came to Olivet with the original intent of getting her “MRS.” degree and someday teaching home economics. But God had something different in mind. She became the first Olivet graduate with a dietetics degree. Forty years later, she sees retirement ahead and reflects on a life well lived.

During her time at Olivet, Ann heard about dietetics as a career and said, “I should be a registered dietitian.” She talked to a professor and was enthusiastically encouraged to pursue this goal.

Opportunity of a lifetime

When she heard about a dietetics internship in St. Louis, Mo., she took two additional classes at St. Mary’s Hospital in Kankakee and was able to meet the requirements for application. At that time, employers had even begun requiring candidates to submit handwritten letters. They looked at the content, penmanship and grammar to choose 15 from the 120 who applied.

“They had always selected interns from ‘Big Name Schools,’” Ann recalls. When she was hired for an internship in St. Louis, she called it a miracle.

At that time, her internship was nine months of training. Each intern received $80 plus free room and board. While she was there, her roommate told her about a job in dietetics at Riverside Hospital in Kankakee.

“There were only two registered dietitians in Kankakee at that time,” Ann says. “And it was one of those positions that opened up.”

She interviewed and was hired. “I give full credit to God for that opportunity,” she adds.

Dietetics with a Christian purpose

Ann and her husband, Tom Roat ’69, moved a lot after graduating from Olivet. She has worked as a dietitian at numerous places in Michigan, Missouri and Kansas. “There was always a job for me when I needed it,” she says.

“This has been a very satisfactory profession for me,” Ann continues. “Olivet gave me a heart for my patients, and a smile that some have said encouraged them during their pain and illness.

“A Christian perspective helps me value each person — no matter how they look, smell or believe — because God uniquely created each one.”

Although the requirements for becoming a registered dietitian have changed since then, the focus of Olivet’s program is still on caring for others in the name of Jesus. Find more information about our current program here.