BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – University of Arkansas track & field and cross country student-athlete Grace Heymsfield is one of 14 students from Southeastern Conference institutions who will serve as University Ambassadors for the 2014 SEC Symposium.
The 2014 SEC Symposium, entitled Prevention of Obesity: Overcoming a 21st Century Public Health Challenge, will be held September 21-23 at the Hyatt Regency Atlanta.
The SEC Symposium is designed to address a significant scholarly issue utilizing the range of disciplines represented by the SEC’s 14 member universities. University of Arkansas Chancellor Dr. David Gearhart is currently serving as Vice President of the SEC and is the liaison to SECU, the SEC’s academic initiative.
Heymsfield, a native of Elkins, Ark., is a redshirt senior on the Arkansas women’s track & field and cross country teams. She is the SEC meet record-holder in the women’s steeplechase and has won two consecutive SEC Championships in the event. Heymsfield is a member of the SEC Academic Honor Roll.
“I was approached by my professors with the opportunity to attend the Symposium because of my involvement with the honors college on our campus,” Heymsfield said. “I did my honors thesis on nutrition knowledge of high school students in our area with an emphasis on nutrition education and the potential impact on childhood obesity.”
University Ambassadors play a critical role in the SEC Symposium in a number of support roles. Each SEC school was asked to send one student to Atlanta for a one-of-a-kind opportunity to assist with the event.
“There is a lot the Ambassadors can glean from the SEC Symposium,” SECU Executive Director Torie Johnson said. “It is a time for undergraduate students to interact with the graduate students that they aspire to become and to interact with presenters, some of whom they are familiar with and others they have read about.”
Heymsfield is the daughter of Ernest and Carol Heymsfield of Elkins, Ark. Her father is a longtime associate professor in civil engineering at the University of Arkansas, and she aspires to work in higher education.
“I have always been interested in nutrition education,” Heymsfield said. “My dad is a professor and teaching at the collegiate level is something I’d like to do. I think there can be a lot more done about nutrition education efforts.”
The opportunity for collaboration, exposure to industry professionals and interacting with other University Ambassadors are all things Heymsfield is looking forward to. The cross-disciplinary nature of the event will allow students to meet and share ideas with professionals and fellow students in a broad range of academic areas.
“It’s an appropriate topic nationwide and definitely something that’s very relevant to all of the schools in the SEC,” Heymsfield said. “I’m looking forward to hearing about all of the different research. I’m going in with an open mind and I’m excited to learn.”