Stefany Mertins Jones

Stefany Mertins Jones is a senior in the coordinated program in dietetics from Missoula, Montana.

Service then: Stefany spent eight years in the United States Navy, stationed in the Pacific Northwest. As a hospital corpsman first class, she provided medical care to reservists before and after deployment. “Their health was my number one priority.”

Service now: Growing up in a single-parent household that relied on help from others, Stefany understands the importance of giving back. While in the Navy, she volunteered with Big Brothers Big Sisters. Over the summer, she turned her interest in nutrition into a helping hand with Meals on Wheels.

On marriage, the military, and mileage: Stefany and her husband, Dan, have spent less than half of their three-year marriage in the same place. A commissioned Naval officer and reservist, Dan was deployed to Guantanomo for 14 months and now works in Seattle. They enjoy one “date weekend” each month, taking turns to visit each other.

Life lessons: “The experiences I had in the military equipped me to do well in school,” Stefany says. “Discipline, teamwork, leadership, and a strong work ethic — these things carry over into everything that comes after.”

Growth spurt: Stefany enlisted when she was 19 and says you grow up fast in the military. “It doesn’t change who you are, but you do change. I’d like to think for the better.”

Why Purdue? She did her homework and sought out schools with renowned dietetics programs. Purdue rose to the top of the list (and it didn’t hurt that her husband is a Hoosier.)

Her dream job: Counseling superstar athletes on their nutrition and diet needs.

By Tammy Weaver-Stoike