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Student Spotlight April

Sofia, a senior undergraduate Human Nutrition Student at Nova Southeastern University, has
cultivated an interest in nutrition that is motivated by her passion for medicine. In the imminent
transition to medical school this Fall, Sofia looks forward to integrating the knowledge she
gained during her Bachelors of Nutrition into the perspective of a future physician.

1. Can you tell me about your undergraduate/graduate program in dietetics? What made you
choose this field of study?
Nova Southeastern University’s Human Nutrition program has been a cornerstone of my
academic journey, providing me with many enriching experiences throughout my undergraduate
studies. My connection with NSU goes beyond the program, as I have been part of this
educational community for many years, attending their middle and high school programs as well.
My introduction to the field of nutrition occurred during my high school years at NSU
and was sparked by a captivating talk given by Dr. Ioana Scripa, the director of the program.
This initial encounter fueled my interest in the subject, leading me to approach Dr. Scripa about
undertaking my high school senior capstone project within the nutrition program. Dr. Scripa
warmly welcomed me and offered valuable insight into dietetics through seminars and food
demonstrations. After this experience, I was motivated to pursue my bachelors in human
nutrition with this program.
What distinguished NSU’s Human Nutrition program for me is the exceptional faculty
and their commitment to hands-on experiences. The faculty members are not only experts in
their respective fields, but they are also dedicated mentors who go the extra mile to provide
support to the students.
After nearly four years of immersing myself in the study of nutrition, I am confident that
the education I’ve received from this program will serve as a solid foundation as I embark on the
path to becoming a physician. This unique perspective, shaped by the holistic and intricate
intersections of nutrition and medicine, has been fostered by the program and will undoubtedly
enhance my approach to healthcare in the future.

2. 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?
Throughout my time in the Human Nutrition program, several courses have been valuable to me
and my understanding of nutrition and dietetics. Here are some of the most valuable courses and
their contributions to my knowledge:
1. Principles of Medical Nutrition Therapy
This course provided a deep dive into the application of nutrition principles in the
treatment and management of various medical conditions. This course was valuable to
me as it allowed me to understand how nutrition plays a vital role in healthcare
interventions which I believe will help in my transition to medical school.
2. Principles of Wellness
This course expanded my comprehension of nutrition to include a broader spectrum of
factors as it explored the holistic dimensions of health and well-being. This was valuable
to me as the approach significantly influenced my understanding of the
interconnectedness between lifestyle, nutrition and health.
3. Nutrition Education, Counseling, and Communication
This course was instrumental in honing my communication skills and understanding the
art of effective counseling. Learning how to convey complex information in a clear and
accessible manner is also crucial for a future physician.
4. Lifespan Nutrition
Lifespan Nutrition provided a comprehensive overview of the nutritional needs at
different stages of life. This course equipped me with the knowledge to understand the
diverse nutritional challenges that are faced throughout the lifespan.

3. 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?
During my time in the nutrition program, I had the opportunity to do an independent
study under the guidance of Professor Melinda Luis. This project became one of my favorite
experiences within the program, as it allowed me to combine my passion for nutrition with
community service. The project was a collaboration between NSU’s Farquhar Honors College
and Feeding South Florida, a non-profit organization dedicated to addressing food insecurity. I
dedicated weekly sessions to community service, where I engaged in hands-on delivery work and
contributed to the organization’s management and development efforts. One of the highlights of
my project was identifying a gap in communication within the organization and spearheading a
project to address it. Many of the food pantry clients spoke languages other than English, so I
created a video that provided clear instructions for navigating the food pantry. Recognizing the
linguistic diversity of the clients, I translated the video into Spanish, French, Portuguese, and
Russian.

5. 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?
Throughout my educational and professional journey and nutrition, I’ve developed a
diverse set of key skills that I believe will greatly contribute to my future career. Through the
coursework and practical experiences, I’ve gained a deep understanding of nutrition, which will
undoubtedly assist me in my career as a physician. One of the skills I am most grateful for is
communication and public speaking. The nutrition program exposed me to a variety of
experiences that have strengthened my ability to communicate complex information in a clear
and accessible manner. This skill is essential for any career, but it is particularly applicable in
healthcare. The program also focuses highly on cultural competence. Through coursework and
community engagement, I’ve developed cultural competence and an appreciation for the diverse
backgrounds and dietary needs of individuals. These skills collectively will help me be
successful in my future career as a physician.

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