I hope you are having a wonderful week! I mentioned about a week ago on my Instagram that I wanted to start being more personal on here and share more of my experiences to give you a better sense of the person behind the blog. So I figured I would talk about how and why I decided to pursue a career in the field of nutrition and dietetics. The road that has led me to the career path of a registered dietitian has not been linear, to say the least. Just like every other first-time college student, I was overwhelmed by all the potential career choices I had right in front of me and at the age of 18, I could not pinpoint what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. I always knew that whatever career path I chose had to deal with helping people because that has always brought me such joy and fulfillment. However, with so many careers that do just that, I was lost as to where to begin. I knew I was fascinated with the human body & all of its complex processes as I had taken an Anatomy & Physiology class right before graduating from high school but I didn’t know how that was going to translate into a career. I knew I was not interested in becoming a nurse because for one I am super squeamish with needles/ blood and two I am way too emotional to be a nurse. When the time came to put in my college applications, I decided to go with the major of Biology since I figured that could translate to just about any career within the healthcare field.
After my first semester at CSUF, I decided to switch my major. During that first semester, I had the opportunity to explore all the majors the campus had to offer and that is when I came across the major of Health Science. Prior to attending CSUF, I had never even heard of the Health Science field but once I was exposed, I knew I had found my match. The field of Health Science is all about prevention in the form of offering education on a variety of subjects that pertain to your health. The particular coursework I specialized in was all about health promotion and disease prevention which was fascinating as I studied all the factors that influence the decisions we make in regards to our health. During my sophomore year of my undergraduate, I was required to complete 40 hours of volunteer work at an organization of my choosing to help expose me to a potential career path. That is when I discovered the career path of a registered dietitian. I wanted to make the most out of the 40 hours of volunteer work so after doing some research I decided to reach out to various dietitians in my area to inquire if it would be possible to shadow their work. After many rejections, and I do mean many, I was so fortunate to get the green light from a private practicing registered dietitian. I remember feeling so overcome with emotion because it was my big chance to test drive the career of an RD to see if it was, in fact, a match. From that very first day, I knew I had found my calling. I remember very clearly calling my mom after my first day and rambling on and on about all that I had learned just after 8 hours. The idea of sitting down with a patient and discussing their current eating patterns and then educating them about their particular dietary needs was everything I could have ever wanted in a career. It seemed to encompass all of my greatest passions: health, food, and most importantly helping people.
Before I knew it, those 40 hours of volunteer work turned into working with that particular dietitian for 1 1/2 years. She taught me so much valuable information which for that I will forever be in her debt. In my time working alongside her, I created specialized meal plans, nutrition education material, educational videos, and also helped her grow her personal business. It was an incredibly rewarding experience and was the single most important event that shaped all my future endeavors. I was able to connect with so many patients and it was during that time that I realized just how much of a need there is for nutrition education. Prior to that work experience, I never knew that both kidney disease and diabetes could be reversed through proper nutrition therapy so I could only imagine how many other individuals were in the same boat. At this point in my academic journey, I was in my final year at CSUF and decided to explore other avenues of nutrition education.
One of the last courses I took at CSUF was entitled “The Social Context of Childhood Obesity” which was another huge event that helped to confirm my desire to work in the field of nutrition. I became obsessed with learning all that I could about how nutrition education is structured in various settings and depending on the population of interest. I was fortunate to have an absolutely wonderful mentor, Dr. Laura Chandler who gave me an incredible opportunity to lead a nutrition education discussion on behalf of the Eddie Nash Foundation in Orange County. I remember it was around finals time and although I was incredibly stressed trying to split my time between work and school, I knew I could not pass up the opportunity. It is to date my proudest achievement and was also the first time I ever created my own recipe. Rather than simply speaking at my audience, I decided to create a memorable experience by bringing along a healthy and delicious treat. I decided to replicate Girl Scout’s Samoa cookies but instead of using cookies as the base, I used Granny Smith apples. The treats were a huge hit and it helped to make the point that I was trying to make about making healthy choices tasty as well.
In my final semester at CSUF, I was required to complete 120 hours at another organization of my choosing and once again decided to take advantage of the opportunity. I reached out to the registered dietitian at Child Nutrition Services at a local school district to inquire about completing my hours there. Once again, I was very fortunate to be given the go ahead and that is when I learned about nutrition from a different perspective. In my time at the school district, I created various nutrition education presentations, informational handouts, and participated in many school events. The dietitian I worked with was an incredible mentor as she graduated with her masters from the same exact school and program that I am after. She was incredibly helpful and to date has helped to guide me in the right direction. During my time at the school district, I began to develop recipes of my own and would often bring them into my internship for everyone to try. It was during that time that I began to play around with the idea of creating my own blog.
It took some time for me to finally build up the confidence to create this blog but it is something that I am so proud I did. I remember thinking who would even care to read it and yet every time I receive a like or notification I am so glad I took the leap. All in all, I have been very lucky to have worked alongside some incredibly brilliant individuals. Each one of my mentors has provided an invaluable amount of information all of which have led me to where I am today. When I graduated from CSUF in 2017, I knew that I would spend the next year- two years completing prerequisites for the master’s program at the school of my dreams (Loma Linda University) and now that I am two classes away from applying, I am so proud of how far I have come. The last year and a half have been some of the most personally challenging years but it has also been filled with the most growth. I have learned just how strong-willed I am and just how passionate about nutrition education I really am. I feel so overjoyed and fulfilled working on this blog and discussing anything and everything related to your health. Working on this blog has been such an honor and I am so grateful to each and every one of you who has sent me a message/comment or a picture of my recipes.
If you’ve made it through all of this then I appreciate you taking the time to learn more about the person behind Life at the Mesa. Like I always say, I thank you all so much for making your way to my page and taking the time to learn a little bit more about me. I hope this helps give you insight into who I am and my goals. As I continue down this road and towards my ultimate goal to be an RD, I hope you all continue to find inspiration in my recipes and to remember that your health is invaluable.