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Becoming a Registered Dietitian – Danae Gross

“In high school, I was very STEM-oriented. I had an engineering path, and I acted as an engineering aid. But I didn’t enjoy not being able to communicate with people on a real level that made a difference not only in their lives but in mine as well. The switch to nutrition happened later on in life when I was taking a prerequisite for a community college class I was taking, and it was a nutrition class. I thought it was really interesting. I liked the idea of what a registered dietitian did, and I looked to see what the requirements were and started that plan.

I’m a registered and licensed dietitian, and I’m also a certified nutrition support clinician. You have to do an internship to become a dietitian, so I did it through Meredith. I chose to do my dietetic internship through ӣƵbecause of the location and also because of the community. It was important to me to connect with other students and the faculty and staff. I had that during my internship, and when I was looking to come back and finish my master’s, it just made sense to do it here.

Knowing your potential is sometimes difficult. I would say things like, ‘Here’s what I want to do. Here’s what I think I need to do.’ And the professors at ӣƵwere able to say, ‘Well, if that’s what you want to do, here’s how you can do it.’ They were encouraging, helped me reach my full potential, and helped me fine-tune my skills to achieve what I wanted to achieve. They helped me find pathways I didn’t even know existed, like Ph.D. programs, and without the encouragement and support from the staff, I never would’ve been accepted into one.

I was accepted into the UNC-Chapel Hill nutrition Ph.D. program with a minor in epidemiology. After I get my Ph.D., I hope to be in a setting where I’m working with students as a professor or the head of a program in nutrition. I want to help students achieve their goals. I still feel like I’m a clinician at heart and enjoy working with patients, so I would love to find a way to marry those two things, where I’m doing research and teaching students but still interacting with the patient community.”