Winter 2019

Building for the Future

A Frances Stern Nutrition Center alumna makes a plan for long-term support.

By Julie Flaherty

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Bob and Mary Kay Crepinsek

One of Mary Kay Crepinsek’s favorite memories of her time as an intern at the Frances Stern Nutrition Center was a rotation with a dietitian who worked with cancer patients. “I was terrified to counsel patients for the first time,” Crepinsek said. “I was just so afraid of doing something wrong in front of her.” Sensing Crepinsek’s fear, the dietitian didn’t hover, but instead told her that she was ready to meet patients on her own, which she did. “Right away, it just kind of clicked,” Crepinsek said. “It just boosted my confidence tremendously.” Throughout her internship, she found the other dietitians at the center and hospital offered similar support and encouragement.

Crepinsek completed her master’s degree at Tufts and dietetic internship at the center in 1984, and did work for the center off and on until 1996. To celebrate the 100th anniversary of the center, Crepinsek offered her own support and encouragement, by making a planned gift to help future members of the Friedman School’s master’s in nutrition and dietetic internship program.

Crepinsek’s time at the center laid the groundwork for an illustrious career in nutrition research that has informed nutrition policy across the country. In the late 1980s, computer programs for nutritional analysis were just emerging, and Crepinsek volunteered to investigate them to see if they would be applicable to the center’s work. She soon became an expert in the field, and applied her skills to a study of school-based interventions for child and adolescent cardiovascular health. Later, she led a nutritional analysis of school meals and children’s diets that found they were too high in sodium and saturated fat and too low in vegetables and fiber. That work directly influenced the new school meal requirements outlined in the federal Healthy Hunger Free Kids Act of 2010.

Crepinsek, a former volunteer leader for the Friedman School Alumni Association and current member of the school and HNRCA’s Tufts Nutrition Council, credits her Tufts degree with helping make her career success possible. “If you are a graduate of Tufts and the Frances Stern nutrition program, you are thought of highly,” she said. “It is obvious that the reputation of the program precedes you. It opens doors.”

That’s one reason she and her husband, Bob, have included the Friedman School in their estate plans.

“I was a student who relied on financial aid, and so I knew that there is a need,” she said. “But when I became part of the Alumni Association Executive Council, it opened my eyes to all of the ways the school had changed and grown. I really feel that they are doing such important work, and it’s work I want to support.”

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