"Laughter is brightest where food is best" -Irish Proverb Every night growing up, my family came together at the dinner table to eat, drink and laugh: a tradition that has withered in so many homes today. For us, food was how we bonded. Twenty-four years later, my family continues to prepare meals and sit down together for dinner. This tradition shaped my craving to help others establish a healthy, and nurturing relationship with their food and their family.
Like many Americans I struggled to make healthy food choices. From my experience counseling community members through the WIC program, I know I am not alone in this struggle. With practice, I gained control over my temptations, established a positive food relationship and gained the confidence to counsel those fighting similar food battles. Because I have shared this endeavor, I empathize with my clients’ situations, and am able to develop authentic relationships with them.
My desire to help others live a healthy lifestyle shaped my college experience. I minored in Spanish to become a bilingual RD and make myself accessible to a broader range of my community. Furthermore, I worked and volunteered for various organizations including the American Heart Association. As an AHA representative, I performed healthy cooking demonstrations for an inner-city, youth, EMT training program. The trainees were engaging and eager to learn. They taught me that despite our lack of outward similarities, we could connect with one another through food. Based on their enthusiasm, I sensed the participants would share what they learned with their friends and families, helping me reach beyond the immediate participants.
I began volunteering for WIC to gain more experience in community nutrition and to immerse myself in the Spanish language. I earned a paid position where I provide bilingual nutrition consultations and I teach classes. Additionally, I participate in community health fairs sponsored by WIC. Having worked with people of various backgrounds at AHA community outreach events, I was well-equipped to enter a world of public speaking with WIC. Also, I joined the Diablo Valley sector of the CDA to connect with local RDs and learn about nutrition trends in our community. Through connections made in the CDA, I became a Mother/Baby Unit volunteer at Kaiser Permanente, furthering my connection with new moms. It was a natural progression to seek out exposure to clinical nutrition with their ICU RD, Brenda Fonacier. In this setting, I learned about the nutrition care process with critically ill patients. Brenda, has offered to be my clinical preceptor, believing in my potential as a future RD. Today, I counsel WIC participants with deep resolve, because I have seen first-hand the complications that occur from preventable diseases. Interacting with people of different backgrounds and various nutritional stages has diversified my skill-set and made me a well-rounded candidate for the WIC dietetic internship.
I have learned the importance of discipline and study, but understand I still have much to learn through the dietetic internship. Being a successful intern will require balancing my internship hours with a part-time work schedule, solving complex medical nutrition therapy cases, and studying diligently to show my dedication to attain my RD. I became a Registered Dietetic Technician to validate my current knowledge in the field of nutrition and demonstrate my preparedness for a dietetic internship. All of my involvements have introduced me to the harm poor nutrition can have on the body and the many ways RDs can support people in need. They have influenced my goal to become a WIC RD and have furthered my desire to research ways of raising multicultural, nutritional awareness to the underserved, low-income populations.
I am applying for this internship because I strongly believe in WIC and what the program has to offer its participants. Teaching the nutrition and breastfeeding classes gives me a sense of accomplishment and enables me to communicate on a broad scale with members of the community. I appreciate the preventative approach that community nutrition emphasizes. Clinical nutrition certainly has a critical role in healthcare, but remains individualized and focused on maintenance and healing. Educating the community on how to use nutrition now, for a healthy future, has proven to be very fulfilling. Healthy living is, to me, a crucial piece of wellbeing and a happy life, the most important thing I can share with others.