Nutritional Sciences’ John Parenti II named Director of Nutrition for University of Minnesota Athletics
College of Human Sciences alumnus tackles nutrition in athletics
Nutritional Sciences alumnus John Parenti II is currently serving in his first year as the Director of Nutrition for the University of Minnesota's athletic department.
John earned his undergraduate degree in Dietetics and Exercise Physiology from the University of Nebraska in 2013 before attending Texas Tech to pursue a Master's Degree in Nutritional Sciences.
John describes the influences in his life that led him to pursue a career in sports and nutrition.
"Growing up I was always in to training. My interest in nutrition sparked when I was training for my senior year of football. I decided to change some of my nutritional habits and saw the impact that it had on my performance."
During his undergraduate and graduate studies, John began working with the University of Nebraska's Sports Nutrition Department until his graduation in 2013. John continued to chase his dreams with another internship at the University of Texas in 2011 as a Strength and Conditioning intern. After graduating from Nebraska, John obtained an internship at The University of Alabama athletics department and worked there for 3 years before he found himself in his first full-time position as a Dietician for the University of Louisville's football program.
John elected to participate in the 15 month Dietetic Internship Program offered by Nutritional Sciences at Texas Tech. Completion of the Dietetic Internship Program allows graduate students studying nutrition the option to proceed with their graduate studies in order to complete a master's degree. John chose this path, having gained hands-on experience in world of nutrition and dietetics before his graduation.
Upon finishing his Nutritional Sciences master's degree in 2016 from Texas Tech, John's biggest opportunity yet came knocking at his door. John was selected as the University of Minnesota's Director of Nutrition for the athletic department.
John says that he most enjoys his current role for the positive impact he gets to make on the student athletes and the opportunity that he has had to continually learn from his coworkers.
"Athletics is tough profession. Working your way up takes a long time and having patience is key," John said. "Each sport, coach, athlete, and support staff member will always teach you something; it's just a matter of listening and observing."
John credits the College of Human Sciences' Director of Dietetic Internship Shelley Fillipp for being a key player in his success.
"Shelley Fillipp is one of the greatest individuals I have ever met. She does not take a cookie cutter approach when it comes to the success of her students," John said. "In sports terms, she was our head coach and put each of us in the best position to be successful. I owe a lot to her; she is a game changer."
Shelley is confident that John serves as a great representative for Nutritional Sciences in his efforts to make his dream a reality.
"He was focused on the career path of sports dietetics. He made sure he did all the steps that would get him to that world. John had to complete a lot of rotations in the nutrition field and he did it well, in a positive way."
Shelley says John stands out in her mind as a dedicated and driven dietetic intern with a unique sense of humor.
"One of my funniest memories of John is that he could make all kinds of pictures using characters on the keyboard. In his last reflection for the dietetic internship, he wrote this very funny reflection and used an image from the Breakfast Club that read, 'don't you forget about me,'" said Shelley. "He just has a funny sense of humor that I enjoyed so much."
John describes his time in the College of Human Sciences as an opportunity that equipped him for a career in sports nutrition.
"I could not have asked for a better place to be. The College of Human Sciences was the perfect fit for me at that point in my professional career. The academic course work and professional internship really prepared me for my current position."
John imparts some well-earned advice to any students or fellow alumni who are considering a career in nutrition.
"Be yourself and go with your gut. Listen, observe, and know your surroundings. Stick with it and never give up."