Texas Tech University

Nutrition Major Wants to Give Back to Others Through Health

Glenys Young

June 1, 2020

Brennan Mabry earned one of the Texas Tech Parents Association’s Student Academic Leadership Awards.

In February, Texas Tech University and the Texas Tech Parents Association announced the 2020 Student Academic Leadership Award recipients to honor outstanding students who excel both in and out of the classroom. We are highlighting Texas Tech University students who were recognized.

If there's one common thread that runs through Brennan Mabry's life, it's a desire to improve the health of people around her.

Through her father's job as its CEO, Mabry grew up on the grounds of the Texas Lions Camp, a nonprofit that caters to children with physical disabilities, cancer and Type 1 diabetes. As soon as she was old enough, she began helping with the camp's equestrian program and around the bunkhouses – and she's done it every summer since.


From those beginnings, Mabry entered college knowing she wanted to go to medical school. Along the way, she discovered a passion for the role nutrition plays in health outcomes. Now a junior Honors College student and nutrition major at Texas Tech, Mabry is an undergraduate research scholar in the Nutrigenomics, Inflammation & Obesity Research Laboratory in the Department of Nutritional Sciences, where she's studying the metabolic effects of vitamin D and fish oil on obesity.

But her passion doesn't stop with her academic commitments. Even in her sorority, Mabry is working to make sure her Alphi Phi sisters are getting the best information about their safety and mental health.

For work like this, Mabry recently received one of the Texas Tech Parents Association's Student Academic Leadership Awards.

How are you a leader in the classroom?
While in the classroom, I like to encourage participation from everyone. In prior years, I had multiple group discussion-based courses. I found that I was always making sure everyone in my individual group was able to give input.

How are you a leader outside the classroom?
I am actively involved in leadership for my sorority, Alpha Phi. I served on the 2018-19 executive council as the vice president of membership education and programming, overseeing the chapter's academics and helping new members in their transition from home to college life. This year, I have been fortunate to serve as the vice president of risk management, implementing safety procedures, overseeing chapter health and developing programming to educate members about mental health and safety. Through both experiences, I have attended national leadership conferences.

This summer, I will have the opportunity to serve as an activity leader for the equestrian center at the Texas Lions Camp. Through my position, I will oversee each activity, monitoring for safety and planning fun and effective lessons. It is absolutely astounding to see what every child can achieve when they are told they can do the seemingly impossible.

Why did you select your major?
As a pre-med student, I was set on entering college as a biology major. While at an Honors College reception, I was approached by the College of Human Sciences. After speaking to them, I was immensely impressed with the care and the interest they showed me. So, I entered college as a Human Sciences interdisciplinary major with a concentration in nutrition.

During my first year at Texas Tech, I had the opportunity to take an Honors first-year experience course with Naïma Moustaïd-Moussa about nutrition and diseases related to nutrition. I was fascinated by the class and eventually approached Dr. Moustaïd-Moussa about beginning to conduct research in her lab. Through my experience, I eventually decided to change my major to nutrition. The link between nutrition and diseases is extremely fascinating to me. By receiving a degree in nutrition, I have been able to expand my interests and explore new horizons related to the overall care of patients.

How do you intend to use your education in the future?
After I graduate, I intend to go to medical school. I have always been interested in helping others and making a lasting impact. I would love to carry my knowledge of nutrition into the medical field because I recognize that, without a solid nutritional foundation, patient well-being cannot be fully achieved. I hope to apply my growing knowledge of nutrition to any future medical practice I may be involved in, making it the cornerstone of each treatment.

Specifically, I have always been interested in oncology. I have had the amazing opportunity to grow up around the Texas Lions Camp, offering them a camp environment that encourages the "can do" philosophy. Because of my experience at the camp, I have a passion for serving others. I would love to give back to a community that means so much to me and that has shaped who I am today.

How has Texas Tech helped you along the path to those goals?
The Honors College has been incredibly beneficial throughout my time at Texas Tech. As mentioned previously, my first-year experience was crucial in my decision to switch majors. In addition, I have been incredibly blessed with professors who go above and beyond the scope of the classroom. Each course has been academically enriching and has furthered my love of learning. Moreover, each of my professors has taken the opportunity to get to know me and has encouraged me in the pursuit of my goals for my future.

Who has had the biggest impact on you, and why?
I have had several strong and influential people throughout my life. If I had to pick one, it would have to be my mother. She is genuinely one of the most inspirational people I have ever met. She has taught me about work ethic and determination, even when situations are not optimal. She approaches everyone and everything with kindness and grace and is quick to support those in need. She has been a constant, encouraging force throughout my life, pushing me to achieve my very best and put in the work at every milestone. She is incredibly strong in her faith and has always emboldened me to press deeper into my relationship with God. She is truly outstanding, and I could never thank her enough for all she has done for me. She has truly shaped me into who I am today. There are not enough words to explain how amazingly influential she has been in my life.

As far as faculty members at Texas Tech, it is hard to say which professor has made the biggest impact. Dr. Moustaïd-Moussa has been extremely influential and has afforded me multiple opportunities by allowing me to conduct research and attend national conferences. She has been a significant mentor to me as a woman and a leading expert in the field of nutrition research. With that first course during my first semester, she introduced me to nutrition and altered my path for the rest of my college experience, and I am eternally grateful to her. In addition, I would be remiss if I did not mention my direct mentor Latha Ramalingam. She has overseen my project and has offered me invaluable guidance and key insight into the process of quantitative research.

Is there anything else you'd like to add?
I am incredibly grateful for all the opportunities I have been afforded while at Texas Tech. The Undergraduate Research Scholars program through the Honors College has greatly impacted my time at school. In addition, I have been surrounded by incredible faculty members and peers who have always pushed me to be my very best. Without the support of my family, research mentors and friends, this experience would not have been possible.