Student Spotlight Interview Questions
- Can you tell me about your undergraduate/graduate program in dietetics? What made you choose this field of study?
I completed my bachelor’s degree in Dietetics at the University of Florida and I’m currently at the end of the MS-DI program at the University of Florida. This is a 2-year graduate program that includes an academic portion, as well as the dietetic internship. I’m happy to say that I’ll be obtaining my Master of Science in Food Science and Human Nutrition next month and I couldn’t be more excited to start implementing everything that I have learned over the years into my profession.
Regarding what made me choose this area of study, I’ve always been interested in nutrition. I think what sparked my interest growing up was my mother – she really cared about teaching healthful eating habits to me and my sister when we were growing up. And I think the emphasis she put on choosing healthful foods to best nourish ourselves made me want to do the same for others.
- What were some of the most valuable courses you took during your program, and how did they contribute to your understanding of nutrition and dietetics?
There were a few courses that I took during my graduate program that I was especially appreciative of. These were my Medical Nutrition Therapy course and my Vitamins course. And I think these were the most valuable because they both emphasized the value of critical thinking, which is instrumental to the field.
My MNT course highlighted the fact that when we become practicing dietitians, we won’t be encountering nutrition issues that are black and white – there are so many intricate details and complexities that play a role in our MNT treatment. My Vitamins course really focused on critically analyzing published literature. Our class was centered around analyzing research articles pertaining to vitamins specifically and then being able to interpret and critique them.
Both of these courses allowed me to refine my critical thinking skills and because of this, I feel capable as a professional to take on any kind of nutrition-related challenge that comes my way, because I know that I have the skillset to do so.
- Did you have any specific research or internship opportunities related to nutrition during your studies? If so, can you share a memorable experience or project you worked on?
The most memorable project that I worked on was a research project that my graduate cohort and I conducted. This study investigated the association between social physique anxiety (which is the anxiety that someone feels with the perceived evaluation of their physical appearance) and diet quality among undergraduate college students. And this research project required continuous hard work and collaboration. And I am so appreciative to have been able to work with such a wonderful cohort and have such incredible research professors. I really learned a tremendous amount and felt so accomplished after having successfully conducted this research study.
- Have you been involved in any volunteer work related to nutrition or dietetics? How has that experience influenced your career aspirations or understanding of the field?
During my undergraduate studies, I volunteered in sports nutrition for a few years. In this position, I worked under the supervision of sports dietitians and prepared post-workout beverages that aligned with the nutritional needs of the UF athletes. And my role as a student volunteer aligns with my career aspirations. In my volunteer position, I was promoting healthful post-workout nutrition choices for student athletes. In my career, I want to continue to promote healthful nutrition choices, particularly in the student population. I intend to work in school nutrition and use my nutrition expertise to ensure that the food provided to students include nutrient-dense options that promote their health and wellness.
- Can you share a challenging situation you encountered in your academic or work experience related to nutrition? How did you handle it, and what did you learn from it?
A challenging situation that I have experienced a number of times during my internship was when I would work with patients who were not entirely receptive to changing their nutrition behavior. And I knew prior to beginning my internship that all patients will be in a different stage of change, of course, but actually interacting in a situation where someone is not interested in what you have to say can be difficult to navigate. In these situations, I had to ask myself, “how can I still be of benefit for this patient?”. It took being in these situations to learn how best to navigate them. Remembering to still focus on building rapport with the patient, making sure that they feel comfortable and welcome. And to also try to engage the patient into a conversation with open-ended questions and making sure to actively listen to everything they were telling me. And then using everything that I learned from them to tailor my approach for nutrition education to best fit that patient in that moment of time.
- What are some of the key skills you have developed throughout your educational and professional journey in nutrition? How do you believe these skills will benefit you in your future career?
During my internship, I gained valuable experience in developing a disciplined work ethic. Each day, I was committed to not only fulfilling the responsibilities of a dietitian, but also learning as much as I could about the rotation itself as a student intern. It took a lot of hard work and dedication, but having this experience really allowed me to refine my disciplined work ethic. I can implement this into my future career, where this skill will help me to stay committed to my profession and continuously seek opportunities to improve myself and my performance.