Why did you choose UW?
The UW is unique in that it is one of the few schools to offer an MPH degree with concurrent dietetics training. I love the combination of public health and clinical training provided by the GCPD because it equips students to work in multiple job settings upon program completion. I was drawn to this versatility and could tell that the UW Nutritional Sciences faculty and staff were dedicated to supporting students on any chosen path.
Why did you pursue a degree in nutrition?
Prior to the UW, I studied neuroscience at Emory University, thinking that I wanted to work in the medical field. Throughout my undergraduate experience, I developed a personal passion for nutrition that ultimately motivated me to shift my career aspirations and return to school. Though my initial draw to this field was sparked by a personal interest in healthy eating and helping others understand the importance of nutrition, I have since gained such a great awareness of the many barriers that people face to accessing nutritious food. Now, I am driven by a heightened understanding of the social, economic, political and environmental factors that shape people’s lives and influence what nutrition means for different communities. To me, this field is constantly expanding and there is always more to learn.
What inspired you to pursue an MPH with RDN training?
I had worked as a research program coordinator on a longitudinal study investigating risk factors associated with the development of subclinical cardiovascular disease. When working with participants during the clinic exam, it became increasingly apparent that basic nutrition was a large source of confusion. I quickly began to connect the dots as I witnessed the fundamental role that nutrition plays in overall health and realized the power of this field. Ultimately, I opted to pursue an MPH because I recognized nutrition as a lever for population-level change and health promotion.
Tell us about your research and/or practice?
I am investigating how registered dietitians perceive the role of dental care providers in healthy lifestyle promotion for children, with an ultimate goal of determining best practice recommendations for dentists seeking to engage in nutrition-related conversations and to identify opportunities to build positive interprofessional relationships.
What are your future goals?
I ultimately hope to engage in work that utilizes a policy, systems and environmental change approach to address barriers to nutritional adequacy and health.
You interned with PATH. What was your experience like?
I interned with the Nutrition Innovation team of PATH’s Maternal, Newborn, Child Health and Nutrition Program to characterize the nutritional quality of various plant proteins and explore their potential to help meet the nutritional needs of children under age 5 in low- and middle-income countries. My work supported PATH’s efforts to explore the extent to which alternative proteins may help support global nutrition in a more environmentally sustainable manner than protein provided by animal-source foods.
Entering into this internship, I did not have extensive background knowledge in global health, so my work at PATH provided an opportunity to study global nutritional concerns and expand upon concepts that I had learned in the classroom thus far. It was fascinating to explore the intersection of human health, nutrition and climate. It was an excellent opportunity to expand my nutritional knowledge, strengthen my scientific writing skills and practice professional communication.