Meet Our Students

Our diverse student body is a great asset to our department, brining their life experiences and knowledge. Learn more about some of the students in our department. 

Patty Arellano Brazys headshot 

Patty Arellano Brazys

Tell us about your research
My research is about the influence that parents have on the youth health but more specifically on their nutrition. The team and I are working on the project: Latino Fathers Promoting Healthy behaviors. We are working on the curriculum adaptation of both parents and  youth. I am also working on a cooking and physical activity program which we have the goal to bring families  together in this two activities.

Where are you from?
I am from Puebla, Mexico

Why did you decide to study at the University of Minnesota?
Since the first time I came to Minnesota in the summer of 2014, I knew I wanted to be here. I went back to Mexico to finish by bachelor degree and my thesis and focused it on articles and studies bases in the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota. Back in the day I was not sure what my future would look like, but I knew that if I wanted to grow I needed to be somewhere else and not stay in Mexico. Since I was 7 years old I have been living in other countries and always wanted more languages and culture in my life.

How has the University of Minnesota helped you?
It has helped me in different ways but the most important one is challenging myself. From the admission process to the present.

What do you enjoy most about the University of Minnesota?
I enjoy the union between students, workers, professors, sports and the love to help others.


Murugi Mutiga headshot

Murugi Mutiga

Tell us about your research.
For my research project, I plan to work with the African immigrant community in the Twin Cities using a community based participatory research (CBPR) approach to identify and solve nutrition-related concerns. I am currently in the initial stage of establishing relationships with the community.

Where are you from?
I am originally from Nairobi, Kenya but have lived in St. Paul, MN over 20 years ago.

Why did you decide to study at the University of Minnesota?
I first came to the University of Minnesota to complete my Master’s in Public Health Nutrition though the School of Public Health. I chose the U because the program was very highly rated. I am now back to pursue my Ph.D. in Nutrition.

What surprised you about living in the Twin Cities?
Minnesota has been home for me and my family for over 20 years. What surprises me is the way people embrace all seasons especially winter. I, on the other hand tend to hibernate in the winter months!

How has the University of Minnesota helped you?
Completion of my Master’s program along with the requirements to become a Registered Dietitian has enabled me to serve in the community in nutrition programs like WIC. I feel it also allowed me the opportunity to discover my love of teaching. I have taught and developed curricula at the University of St Thomas and several Minnesota State colleges. I have also been able to teach nutrition classes in Kenya.  Now I am in the Nutrition PhD program and hope to learn the tools I need to carry out research in the growing African immigrant community in Minnesota.


Yeoun-Jee Pine headshot

Yeoun-Jee Pine

Tell us about your research.
To better understand approaches to nutrition education/research that is culturally appropriate or relevant for the urban American Indian community in the Twin Cities.

Where are you from?
I am from Sacramento, California. In terms of ethnic identity, I am of German, Irish, English, Cherokee, and Korean heritage.**
(**I answered the question this way because "where are you from?" has more than one meaning for people like me.) 

Why did you decide to study at the University of Minnesota?
I wanted to expand my ‘horizon’ beyond the state of California and I was searching for an advisor whose research matched my research interests. It was by chance that a contact recommended Dr. Craig Hassel. To be quite frank, I couldn’t even locate Minnesota on a map prior to this.

What surprised you about living in the Twin Cities?
Coming from California, there were MANY things that surprised me about living in the Twin Cities but two notable surprises were how well people adapted to living in such a cold and snowy environment and the strong urban American Indian history and presence here.