By Naidelly Coelho
What is your educational and professional background?
I have a bachelor's degree in nutrition from Framingham State, believe it or not. I have a master's degree in health education from Worcester State. I have a doctoral degree in health and safety education from Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana. I was a hospital dietitian for a couple of years. And I also worked for the Massachusetts WIC program, which is a nutrition program for women, infants, and children. I also taught junior high for a few years in the late 80s - early 90s. I taught eighth-grade health.
What is your job at FSU?
I'm the director of the Didactic Program in Dietetics, which basically just helps students get ready for applying for their postgraduate - 1,000 hours of supervised practice. That makes up what we call a dietetic internship. And then they go on to take the RD [registered dietitian] exam. I'm also a professor and I teach Fundamentals of Nutrition Science, and I also teach nutrition for sports and exercise. And I teach another course called Drugs, Alcohol and Addictive Behavior.
Can you tell me about the Didactic Program in Dietetics?
This internship program is for students who major in nutrition. In addition to completing the course requirements for a bachelor's degree, they have to do 1,000 hours of supervised practice before they qualify to take the registered dietitian exam and they also have to have a master's degree before they can take the RD exam. So at Framingham State, they can apply for the coordinator program in dietetics, which is not the program that I supervise, but in a coordinated program. They do the 1,000 hours of supervised practice during their senior year and during their one year of post-grad when they're doing the master's degree. With the didactic program, they finish their four-year degree - then complete their supervised practice somewhere else, and also get a master's degree. So, my role as the DPD director is to prepare them to apply for that post-grad internship. We basically walk them through all the steps that are involved.
Is it hard to get accepted into this internship?
Internships are a little bit competitive. So basically, what we help them do is prepare their applications and write a really strong essay that explains why they'd be a good candidate. We give them advice on what kind of work experience to have while they're still students. We usually recommend that they get part-time jobs, especially in the summertime, in anything to do with food and nutrition, because that really strengthens their internship application.
Do you have any hobbies?
I like to do artwork and paint. I play the piano, and sometimes just jam with friends - I'm not great at it, but I do it for fun. I also go to the gym after work a lot. I swim and do some other exercises just to stay in shape.
Is there anything else you want to achieve in your career?
Basically leave my students with a good education and hope that they learn a lot in my classes. I also like to help a lot of students get accepted into dietetic internships. I'm very happy when they get accepted because that means that the work that we've done here has been useful.
Do you have advice for students?
Pace yourself. We always tell our students to pace themselves. I mean, of course, in addition to getting your education, you want to go to events on campus and socialize and make a lot of friends. These are the best years of your life in that respect. But, we always tell students to pace themselves, not to cram and wait until the last minute. If you need help, come and speak to your professors early in the semester. Another thing we tell our students to do is get into study groups with other students in the class. You really will do better on your exams and your projects if you talk to other students in the class and quiz each other verbally and help each other out.
Any final thoughts?
Make the most of your college years - besides the classes, get involved in clubs and activities on campus and attend some of the campus-wide events.