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Meet a Real Domestic Expert

Name: Naomi McKenzie

Education: Oakwood College, Bachelor of Science in nutrition; Loma Linda University, master’s in nutrition administration; Northwestern University, master’s in business administration

Location: Sodexho Marriott in Downers Grove, Illinois

The Job: Naomi began her career as a clinical dietitian at a hospital. There she consulted with doctors to prescribe nutrition programs for patients. Then she moved up to chief clinician and worked with several hospitals.Later she became food service director for Sodexho Marriott, a company that provides multiple services for companies and schools. Naomi was in charge of all the hospital clinicians, managing the budget, hiring people, and training them. She started off directing one hospital, then several, before becoming district manager.Years later she became the regional vice president for Sodexho Marriott. At one time she had in her care 4,000 school service contracts for food, engineering, and environmental services.Now, as senior vice president in charge of diversity, she finds minority men and women with good leadership and management skills to recommend to Marriott. She took this position because it allows her to spend more time with her kids. (She gets to work from home a lot!)

Words to Live by Wherever there are people, there is an opportunity to witness for Christ. Every step we take, someone is watching us. Our diligence, work habits, and how we treat people is a way of showing our Christianity."

Domestic Expert for you?

Consider Domestic Expert as a college major if you're crazy about:
• Food (beyond eating it!)
• Family (not just your own)
• Being creative (in case you choose interior design

Avoid Domestic Expert as a college major if you get nauseated by:
• People (especially the little ones)
• Domestic duties (you'd better hire a maid)
• Teaching (half of majors in field require it


Domestic Expert

What if you were graded on how well you cooked? sewed? cared for children? What if one of your classes required you to live in a house with two classmates--and your final grade depended on how well you lived?

To some this "homework" might sound like a nightmare. Another round of SATs would be more welcome than an assignment to keep house!

But if these tasks actually sound like they'd be fun, then perhaps you should consider majoring in family and consumer science.

When you hear of this major, do you picture aproned women with perfectly combed hair? Don't be fooled. Family and consumer science has undergone some modern renovations and is thriving.

While the family and consumer science major does concern subjects such as foods and family, this doesn't mean that whoever majors in it is destined to be a housewife or househusband. There are many branches to family and consumer science, and all of them take you outside the home.

There's dietetics or nutrition, which can land you a job at a hospital or school creating healthy menus for patients or students. There's early childhood education, in which you learn how to open your own day care. There's even food science, which teaches you all about creating new foods and flavors. (The father of one of my friends is a food scientist, and he invented cool stuff such as the Taco Bell fire sauce and KFC gravy.) Depending on the school's program, you can also study fashion merchandising and interior design.

Yes, a major in the family and consumer science field may mean taking classes on home care and sewing, but it's for a good reason--a reason Tomeka Witherspoon, a senior human development and family studies major at Oakwood College, will explain.

Tomeka actually started college as a biology major, hoping to become a pediatrician because of her love for children. When that major didn't fulfill all her needs, though, she looked through her college bulletin and found human development and family studies, a major that looks at the development of people and the family structure.

"I won't be a pediatrician, but this way I can be an educator or work with delinquent teenagers," says Tomeka. "I can work with a wider range of people, from infants to the elderly."

Speaking from experience, Tomeka has much to share about the ins and outs of this unique major and its unusual classes.

On Course: What is this class in which you have to live off campus with two other classmates?

Tomeka: It's called Home Management Practicum. Two other young women and I were required to live in an off-campus house that Oakwood owns.

Each of us took turns being the host, doing all meal preparations--breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Our teacher would also stop by periodically to make sure we were doing everything we'd learned about keeping house and entertaining guests.

OC: How did you pay for the food?

Tomeka: We were already paying for a meal plan at school, so since we wouldn't be eating at the cafeteria, they just gave us cash reimbursements to buy groceries for the house.

Going grocery shopping with my roommates was a learning experience! We had to negotiate what we would be cooking--we didn't always agree on what we wanted to buy. And we had to look at the prices to make sure we were within our budget.

OC: That sounds like the coolest class!

Tomeka: I enjoyed it very much. We were required to stay for three weeks, but my roommates and I got along so well we asked if we could stay another week.

OC: What other types of classes do you take?

Tomeka: I've taken sewing and dress design. Sewing is the beginning class, which teaches you how to use the machine. For dress design I had to make at least one dress I could wear in public.

Then there's a parenting class that teaches us how to become good parents. There are also basic cooking classes. And for one of my required classes, I had to learn how to prepare food for 50-100 people.

OC: Why do you have to take these courses as a human development and family studies major?

Tomeka: Once I finish my bachelor's degree I can go on to community centers and teach parenting classes to teenage mothers. Or I can teach cooking classes. But in order to train others to raise a family, I have to be able to do it myself.

OC: Are most of your classes hands-on?

Tomeka: Yes. In addition to a regular lecture, most of my classes have labs that give us hands-on experience. For Principles of Early Childhood, we had to go to a local elementary school and observe children, as well as teach classes and help grade papers.

OC: Why do you have to learn to teach?

Tomeka: Some people want to open up their own day care. So some of these classes teach us how to run a day care. Also, our field is so broad that many majors choose to get certified for teaching.

OC: You must have a ton of labs.

Tomeka: Outside of my morning weekday classes, I have up to 12 hours of lab time in the afternoons.

I'll also be taking a class called Internship in Human Development. I'll be required to go to a community organization and work with battered women and children.

OC: Are there many males in your major?

Tomeka: Not very many. But I think it would be good for males to take this major. It would help them grow personally as well as train them to be better members of society.

OC: What type of person should consider the field of family and consumer science?

Tomeka: Anyone. You learn practical skills for everyday living. If a person doesn't know how to sew, we have patient teachers who will show you how. If a person only knows how to boil water, they'll be making banquet dishes by the time they're finished.

It's important, too, to have people skills and love children, because major emphasis is put on children.

OC: Do you see a connection between your spiritual life and your major?

Tomeka: Yes, very much. This major is training me to be the woman God wants me to be, whether I'm a student, wife, mother, or friend.

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