WHEN NUTRITION communications consultant Neva Cochran ’78 reviewed Francelia Medina ’24’s application essay after she was selected for the nutrition scholarship bearing her name, she was impressed with her work regarding the accessibility of canned food as a healthy option for people who can’t afford fresh produce.

Medina’s evidence-based approach impressed the registered dietitian nutritionist who created the Neva Cochran Endowed Scholarship in Nutrition in 2020 to ease the financial burden of graduate school and to offer stipends for dietetic internships to master’s degree students. She has since expanded her giving to include a $1 million planned gift through her estate, supporting additional scholarships and faculty research.

Receiving the scholarship not only reduced Medina’s debt but also bolstered her confidence to complete her degree as she struggled with a demanding workload. “It helps encourage students like me to keep pursuing my dreams,” she says.

TWU’s program appealed to Medina because “the curriculum is comprehensive, immersive and challenging. I am gaining a great depth of knowledge, which will sharpen my skills as a future clinician,” she says. After completing an internship at Houston’s Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center, Medina plans to become a registered dietitian nutritionist specializing in eating disorders, with the goal of opening a practice emphasizing weight inclusivity for all people.

“People’s overall health has a much better chance of improving once shame is lessened and, ideally, removed altogether,” says Medina.