By James Ponder
To say that Georgia Hodgkin inhabits a very busy world is a bit like noting that windmills tend to go ‘round and ‘round.
“During the school year, I come in at 7:00 a.m., and tend to leave around 7:00 p.m.,” says Georgia.
Georgia has been something of an institution at Loma Linda University School of Allied Health Professions since she first checked in to the organization back in 1978. Her current title—associate chair of the department of nutrition and dietetics—barely hints at the size and scope of her responsibilities, or her influence on the world of nutrition.
Perhaps the most prolific author in the school’s history, Georgia has written upwards of a dozen chapters in popular books on vegetarian nutrition—including the second and third editions of Pediatric Nutrition in Chronic Diseases and Developmental Disorders, published by Oxford Press, and the eighth and ninth editions of Fundamentals of Respiratory Care by Mosby Publishers. She has also edited many other publications including volumes II and III of the popular “Apple a Day” vegetarian cookbook, which has sold more than 40,000 copies. In addition, she has participated in dozens of research studies related to nutrition and health.
One of the highlights of her career occurred a few years ago when she got a call from a prominent pediatrician at Massachusetts General Hospital asking permission to quote from the diet manual she edited for the SDA Dietetics Association. “Certainly you can quote our book,” she told him. She has subsequently been recognized as a world authority on vegetarian nutrition since the fifth edition of the Pediatric Nutrition Handbook was published by the American Academy of Pediatrics in 2003.
Back in March 1997, Hodgkin organized Loma Linda University’s presentation on “the Adventist advantage” at the third annual International Conference on Vegetarian Nutrition, which was held here on campus.
“The California Food Guide had never acknowledged protein from anything but meat,” Georgia recalls. “They asked Loma Linda University to contribute a chapter on vegetarian nutrition. I wrote it. They were also looking for groups of people to do demonstrations on vegetarian nutrition.” Apparently, they asked the right person.
The hyperkinetic Hodgkin shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon. Currently in her 39th year at the school, Georgia teaches a number of popular classes, assists students with career decisions and advocates tirelessly for nutritional accountability. Last year, when popular nutritionist Joel Fuhrman, MD, lectured on nutrition at Loma Linda University Church, Georgia and her students attended the event and dissected his every statement in class the following day. She later contributed a rebuttal of many of his claims in an article published on the campus news website.
Despite how impossible it may seem for anyone who maintains such a time-consuming and vigorous career, Georgia also enjoys an active personal life.
“I have 10 grandchildren within eight miles of my house,” she says. “Therein lies my social schedule—basketball games, piano recitals, oboe recitals, volleyball games—all the things wherein grandkids can entertain grandma.”
As she contemplates the future, Georgia sees retirement coming up “one of these days.” No definite plans now, but the overachieving octogenarian with the laconic wit will probably find plenty of things to occupy her time. It would hardly be appropriate for someone with her native North Dakotan worth ethic to just sit around doing nothing.
“I ought to do gardening,” she says. “My poor plants are gasping for water. They’ve not only turned brown, they’ve turned black! I live in a house across the street from a vigorous gardener. There are really gorgeous plants in his yard, but it doesn’t seem to have rubbed off on me.”
The other thing Georgia has been thinking about lately as she contemplates the future is how she can leave a legacy at the school she loves with all her heart.
“My vision since 1978 has been to have a wood base with a crystal Swarovski apple sitting on my desk,” she jokes. “But actually, the university is in my will. When I die, the university will get a gift.”
“Georgia has graciously included Loma Linda University Health in her estate plan,” says Todd Mekelburg, director of planned giving. “The gift will benefit a scholarship fund for students in the School of Allied Health Professions.”
“ Future gifts are important, and they make a significant impact—no matter the size,” Todd says. These types of gifts help ensure that we’ll be able to continue serving students and patients for years to come.”
If you are interested in exploring ways to support programs of Loma Linda University Health, you are invited to contact the Office of Planned Giving by phone at (909) 558-4553, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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