Last week, Nutrition In yoU blog contributor Megan Farris introduced me, Jackie Braun, and my background in nutrition and dietetics. I am looking forward to continuing this blog and highlighting the unique opportunities that we get to experience as dietetic interns at NIU throughout the 2019-2020 school year. This week, I am pleased to reverse the roles and introduce Megan Farris, a fellow dietetic intern, M.S. in Nutrition and Dietetics candidate, graduate research assistant, wife and mother. Over the years Megan has taken a “non-traditional” educational path. Although challenging at times, Megan’s background offers a novel perspective into the field of nutrition and dietetics that many students at NIU may find relatable.
Profile on Nutrition in yoU blog contributor, Megan Farris:
Where did you get your undergrad?
I got a B.F.A in Theater Performance from Millikin University in ’03 and a B.S. in Nutrition and Dietetics from NIU in ’17.
Why did you choose NIU?
I am permanently anchored in Chicago’s west suburbs so I looked at local dietetic programs. I took some prerequisites at College of DuPage and spoke to my professors there about different programs. They all advised me to consider NIU. One professor in particular highly recommended NIU’s program as she is an alumna of both the undergraduate and graduate programs in Nutrition and Dietetics. Like me, it was a second career for her so I appreciated her input. When looking further into the program, I was excited that I could not only take courses to earn a DPD verification statement (which is required to apply for a Dietetic Internship) but also a second bachelor’s degree. Then I found out about the preselect program. Basically, if you are a graduate of the undergraduate program and meet academic, volunteer, and specific GRE criteria, you may apply for early entry into the combined graduate and dietetic internship program. Because I am a planner, I really like the idea of having all of my cards lined up. Plus, I am passionate about community health, which NIU focuses on, and I could earn an M.S. and complete the Dietetic Internship at the same time with financial help through the graduate assistantship program.
What has been your best experience from NIU (so far)?
My favorite experience at NIU so far has been working as an undergraduate research assistant for a pediatric interdisciplinary play group. I worked with a team of fellow Nutrition and Dietetic students, Speech Language Pathology graduate students, and doctoral Physical Therapy students. We collaborated together to develop and implement a curriculum as part of an experimental intervention for a small group of young children who had been diagnosed with various developmental delays. It was an amazing opportunity that enabled me to apply concepts I learned in class to real life situations in order to help improve the lives of the children and their families. Additionally, it was empowering to work alongside students within other health science majors.
What has been your best experience outside of NIU?
A community health education project I worked on for a course assignment led me to nutrition consulting with my community gym. As a result, I was hired as the gym’s nutrition educator. I designed and led a series of nutrition education workshops for people within a competitive weight management program. I loved facilitating the small groups workshops and leading the participants through the steps toward positive behavior modification.
What are you looking forward to doing within the program over the next year and a half?
I am looking forward to being placed in a variety of situations where I can grow as a student and professional. I have been on this educational journey for a long time and am excited to put everything I’ve learned to use with my various roles within the internship. I am most excited for the community rotation but also look forward to gaining experience working with all sorts of Registered Dietitian Nutritionists (RDNs).
Is there any advice you’d give someone considering a degree in nutrition and dietetics?
You have to really want it. I returned to school when I was 30 years old after working in video production for nearly 10 years. I liked my job but I didn’t love it. I wanted more for myself and my family. The path I’ve taken toward becoming a registered dietitian has been very challenging. I have sacrificed a lot just to get to be a Dietetic Intern. Gaining a dietetic internship is not a given. It is highly competitive so you must work very hard for it. You must study hard, be dedicated to your program, and take it one day at a time. It can seem overwhelming, but if you really love it, you can do it.
Thank you Megan.
Megan continues to astonish all of us with her commitment to both her family and her career. Megan and I look forward to sharing our own experiences as dietetic interns and graduate students in the Nutrition and Dietetics program at NIU throughout this academic year. We will also be interviewing several of our classmates to feature the diverse opportunities each of them experienced this summer and this semester. Stay tuned!