I believe in this world, there are people that have an innate ability to make others feel welcomed, who are easy to talk to, who are approachable, and who can make others feel heard and important. In college, I would approach others eating alone and befriend them. In doing this, I stepped outside my comfort zone, but I learned that everyone has something to contribute, and I always had a positive response. I continued to expand my ability to adapt and interact with people. I find that I am one of those people who thrive when helping others; it makes me feel valuable. When I make human connections, I am proud of myself for taking that first step, for listening and relating to their situation. These skills are not easy for everyone to acquire, and while I believe I was born with this gift, I have made an effort to continue to grow, which will help me to excel as a Dietitian. My dream is to influence others to achieve their healthy best.
In high school I became very interested in nutrition. It was at this time that I started noticing an increase in food related health problems and decided to make it my goal to be a part of the prevention crew. Having had friends who struggled with an array of food related issues, I feel better able to relate to others who are fighting similar health battles. Through their struggles, I recognized that many things influence overall health, from eating right, to regular exercise, restful sleep and a good support system.
Throughout high school and college I worked 30+ hours per week, while focusing on a Dietetic major and Spanish minor at San Francisco State University. Working in retail, not only helped with expenses, it taught me how to balance school, work and personal time and I further built upon my experiences and ability to interact with all types of people. I hail from a small town, but I have always prided myself on being open-minded, which is one of the reasons I chose to obtain my Bachelor’s Degree from San Francisco State University, a university and city, well known for diversity. I am fortunate enough to have friendships that span all age groups, ethnicities, and various backgrounds and beliefs. Case studies in my Medical Nutrition Therapy, Advanced Metabolism and Nutrition in the Community coursework enlightened me on health disparities of all kinds, including how a community’s socioeconomic status directly reflects the quality of the products sold at surrounding grocery stores; to the lack of awareness healthcare for transgender and bisexual individuals. Being open-minded has further enhanced my ability to think critically, connect with all types of people and prepared me for the role of a dietitian.
I personally struggled with not receiving acceptance to a dietetic internship last April. I panicked and thought just for a moment that maybe I had chosen the wrong major. I have since come to realize that I was not ready at the time, and that it is the right path for me. In the year, I have had time to reflect, I gained a new confidence I didn’t even know that I had lacked before. In addition to working as a Nanny for two children for a minimum of 20-30 hours per week, I began volunteering for Women, Infants and Children (WIC), the American Heart Association (AHA), and for Nancy Bennett, MS, RD, CDE for at least 12 hours per week. For WIC, I have been able to practice my Spanish speaking skills and the education I received on lactation, prenatal and postpartum child nutrition. This has given me a taste of the work and reward associated with helping underprivileged women and children, and in particular the Latin community. I chose to volunteer with the AHA, because heart disease and stroke are the leading cause of death in America, and healthy choices are the key to prevention. With AHA, I am able to counsel community participants on low sodium, low fat recipes. In addition I have taught healthy techniques through simple cooking demonstrations and discussed about the value of walking. I have also assisted a local dietitian with office operations such as medical billing and insurance forms, compiling spreadsheets for data analysis, and operating a Biophotonic scanner for nutritional screenings at corporate and community health fairs for East Bay Municipal Utility District (EBMUD), Cost Plus World Market and the Diablo Valley Dietetic Association. This gave me a good background in all aspects of private practice. After working with these organizations, working on public health initiatives and giving presentations to local agencies and companies, I learned that I enjoy sharing my knowledge and education with others. Working part time as a personal nanny to a 5 and 7 year old affirmed my love for children and ambition to focus on childhood nutrition to help build a healthier, stronger future. With the children, I teach cause and effect, at their level of understanding. I can honestly say I am thankful for the time I have had to learn and grow and know that my commitments have provided me with the skills to speak publically, manage time, and counsel members of the community. Because of these experiences, I hope to become a Registered Dietitian who is patient, caring, and interactive.
Establishing a personal connection to patients in a clinical setting will help me set the foundation for making possible a connection with a larger community. My short term goal is to complete my dietetic internship, attain my masters in dietetics and work as a pediatric dietitian in a clinical setting. Eventually I want to expand from a clinical setting into community work with an emphasis on not only child nutrition but overall nutrition awareness while continuing to work with the Hispanic culture. I hope to work with a wide-assortment of cases during my dietetic internship and throughout my career to further broaden my experience as a well-rounded dietitian.