This month’s FANS Student in the Spotlight is Rogelio Sanchez, a DPD student from the University of Florida. He’s a foodie and enjoys making delicious plant-based foods taste delicious! He has been working hard, distinguishing himself as a student, husband, and employee. Whatever he works at, he gives it his all! Read on to learn more about his experience as a nutrition student.
Q: Tell me a little bit about yourself.
A: My name is Rogelio Sanchez. I am in the last semester of my DPD program at the University of Florida located in Gainesville. I also have a bachelor’s degree in food science from UF, too. I came back to the University of Florida after having minor health issues that were better treated through my diet. That piqued my interest in nutrition, so I reached out to my nutrition department program director, and here I am!
Q: Where do you live?
A: Currently, I live in Sarasota, Florida. I commute up to Gainesville where I rent an apartment. I live there throughout the week, and then I come back home to Sarasota for the weekend because I work there as a diet clerk at a long-term care facility.
Q: Why did you choose to learn about nutrition?
A: I choose to learn about nutrition because I’m a foodie! I’ve been a foodie since high school. I was athletic and strict with my diet although I didn’t know that much about wellness. Then I began my college career, but I started getting biliary issues when I was 24, so I saw a specialist. They did some diagnostics and they told me that I had gallstones and cholecystitis. I ended up altering my nutrition. My symptoms started improving, and I felt a lot better! I started thinking that I needed to look into studying nutrition. I went back to school, got good grades, and then I found out about being a dietitian.
Q: Tell me about some of your accomplishments as a nutrition student.
A: I just started my first semester of the dietetic program, and I’m going to be done after this semester, which is an accomplishment. I don’t have that much time to fit my heavy course load in, so I sought out valuable experiences. I was hired for a position as a diet clerk at the long-term care facility and focused on going the extra mile by helping the chefs when they were short prep cooks. I even recently got promoted! My diet clerk position is what I cherish the most and it’s my biggest accomplishment so far.
My grades are also an accomplishment. I went full force into the program, taking 16 credits while working like 35 plus hours and I managed to pull off the 4.0 for the semester!
My most current accomplishment is that I was preselected for the Andrews University Internship/MS Nutrition and Wellness!
Q: What other challenges did you experience? How did you overcome those challenges?
A: I think the biggest challenge I’ve experienced was COVID. It hit every industry, even at the long-term care facility where I work, which was hard. COVID impacted our staffing numbers, so it was difficult to get new people in. Being a part of a team that’s so close and overwhelmed is stressful. We were short a prep cook one day, and a dishwasher another, so I was trying to lend a hand as best as I could on top of keeping up with my own classes and trying to keep my grades up. I was torn between two teams: work and school. I gave more to my work team by being scheduled more, taking extra shifts, or offering more help while sacrificing a little bit of study time. That was my biggest challenge.
Q: What are your career aspirations at this time?
A: Obviously, first things first- I need to pass the RD exam after completing my internship. I’ve been thinking long and hard, and this is also a difficult question for me because no one really knows what they want to go into until they experience it, so I definitely know after the internship I’ll have a better idea. One of the biggest reasons I wanted to go into dietetics was to learn more about cancer, so I have my sights set on oncology. My mom is a breast cancer survivor and she has her yearly screenings, but she’s terrified every time. I’ve always wanted to put my mom’s mind at ease. I don’t know if I want to do clinical and oncology or if I want to take the food science approach and develop a nutritional support supplement for cancer patients.