Nurturing nature

Along with elevating the profession itself, Vaughan was always known and loved for her giving spirit at ASU. Kathleen Dixon, a clinical professor of nutrition in the College of Health Solutions, recalls her mentoring younger colleagues, supporting work-life balance in word and deed, and giving back through community service projects. Once, after helping a community food bank assess the nutritional value of the food packages it gave families in need, Vaughan also found time to help out as a volunteer.

“I can remember so many times at the holidays when Linda would be driving around with a trunk full of turkeys to give people,” Dixon recalled.

Dixon started at ASU as a single mom who had never worked in academia before. “I came from a clinical dietetics role,” she said. “Linda made sure I got all the resources I needed to succeed in my job, and she was very good at helping me grow professionally. She was very supportive of all her students and faculty.”

Shepard credits Vaughan with making her career possible, too. “I started as Linda’s graduate student,” Shepard said. “I was assigned to her as a teaching assistant, and then she became the chair of my graduate committee, so she’s been my mentor ever since graduate school.”

Just as she helped Shepard and Dixon, Vaughan still supports ASU nutrition students. Upon her retirement, she established the Linda A. Vaughan Scholarship Fund to help students of high academic merit and financial need. 

“Quite a few of my students have received that scholarship, and it has helped them tremendously,” Shepard said.

To date, Vaughan herself has donated more than $50,000 to this scholarship fund. Many of her friends and former colleagues also contribute on an annual basis, a testament to the respect and impact she continues to have on the program and its students, well after retirement.

For Vaughan, it is her way to give back to students who need the kind of help she needed to complete her own degrees.

“I got financial support throughout my own education,” she said, including at the University of California — Davis, where she earned her bachelor’s degree; at Cornell University, through a National Science Foundation grant that paid her way for her master’s degree; and later, support at the University of Arizona, where she completed her doctoral studies.

“It made such a difference that I could access these amazing institutions of higher education and pursue my personal and professional goals without having the financial means to do so,” Vaughan said.

Despite all those diplomas, Vaughan was unable to attend graduation ceremonies for her first two degrees because she finished her programs early and didn’t have the cash to get back to school to participate. Hardships such as those make her determined to keep giving to the scholarship that bears her name. 

“Funding constraints and the need to keep working are everyday realities for so many students, now more than ever,” she said. “Any small assistance the scholarship can provide ASU nutrition students helps alleviate some of those realities.”

For more information about how to help College of Health Solutions nutrition students achieve their dreams of a college degree through the Linda A. Vaughan Scholarship Fund, contact the college's director of development, Alma Chavez Strasser, at or 602-540-2312.