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Sydney Balan

Nutrition and Dietetics Major

Deciding to pursue a career in dietetics was an easy choice for me. I always lived an active lifestyle, with sports and food being at the center of it all. My high school teacher and track coach noticed my passion for health and fitness. She encouraged me to consider dietetics as a future career path. After learning about this profession, I knew I wanted to be a dietitian and teach others about nutrition.

During my first year at Dominican, I was a part of the women’s basketball team. As a college athlete, I was mainly interested in sports nutrition, but I have discovered the endless avenues the field of dietetics offers. Being a part of the GROW project taught me the importance of sustainability and equity within our food system. As a future dietitian, I hope to continue to gain knowledge and research opportunities surrounding this important topic.

For my research project, I am taking a look at plant-based alternative beef burgers, grass-fed beef burgers, and conventional beef burgers, and exploring the production, environmental impact and sustainability of these three products. I hope to obtain insight on college students’ perspectives and attitudes towards each burger along with their concept of sustainability through surveys and an educational presentation.

Alyssa Brewer

Nutrition and Dietetic Major

Health Communications Minor

I am a current sophomore at Dominican majoring in nutrition and dietetics with a minor in health communications. I am on the women’s soccer team and I am also treasurer for SNDA (student nutrition and dietetic association). I am from Issaquah, a city right outside of Seattle, Washington. I enjoy spending time outdoors, hiking, backpacking, camping, and stargazing. I also enjoy being in the kitchen; cooking, baking and trying out new recipes.

I have always been passionate about nutrition whether I was in the kitchen or prepping my plate for a pre-game meal. I have many ambitions for a possible career as registered dietician such as subfields surrounding mental health, sports nutrition and or pediatrics.

I am happy to be part of GROW and given the opportunity to research, design and present a project under GROW this past year. The current project I am working on is assessing if students at Dominican University would be open to changing their eating habits after completing a sustainable nutrition-focused intervention.

Gabrielle Green

MBA/RD Student

I am a 2022 Dominican graduate with a BS In nutrition and dietetics. I began the MBA program coordinated with the RD internship program in Fall 2022. Nutrition has always been an interest of mine from playing sports and seeing the effects limited nutrition has on people through mission trips and volunteering.

My career goal is to own my private practice in pregnancy and lactation nutrition. Combining my nutrition education with an MBA will help bring me one step closer to achieving this goal. Before GROW, the only thing I knew about  sustainability was that it’s a word used when discussing decreasing harm done to Earth. Now, I am able to discuss specific actions through agriculture practices, food choices, and increasing food accessibility. I started just wanting to learn more about sustainability, and I now look forward to using my newly gained and continuously growing knowledge with future clients.

Engy Helal

Graduate student in Nutrition and Dietetics

GROW-USDA/NIFA Teaching Assistant

I worked as an Emergency Department Physician for three years and I am certified in Public Health Sciences from Loyola Chicago University. I have been working for more than 10 years as a Clinical Researcher in the field of Cardiovascular and Emergency Medicine.

From my experience as a physician and a clinical researcher, I believe nutrition sciences and dietetics can be the clue for many chronic diseases either by prevention, improving management, or delaying complications.

GROW is giving me the opportunity to apply my medical and nutrition knowledge towards my research project with GROW. I have a great passion for working with diabetic and pre-diabetic patients for family reasons. I wish I can help diabetics patients avoid consequences I couldn’t help my dad to avoid.

Applying GROW’s sustainability objectives helped me correlate and find connections while brainstorming for my research project objective and guided me to advanced literature that will help me better counsel my patients.

Nell Lesnik

Nutrition and Dietetics Major

My passion for nutrition began after my grandfather was diagnosed with type II diabetes and went on a mission to improve his health with the help of a healthier diet. I witnessed how my grandfather's health improved after changing his diet and I knew that I wanted to help spread the knowledge about the importance of eating a healthy diet in preventing/treating disease.

After earning my bachelor’s degree in nutrition/dietetics, I hope to earn a master’s degree in nutrition science. After that I hope to be accepted into medical school. My ideal career would be working in primary care where I can use my strong background in nutrition to help teach my patients about the way diet can prevent or treat chronic diseases.

As part of the GROW project I am researching the attitudes and perceptions of college-aged students towards lab-grown meat. In this study, students studying health sciences at Dominican University will complete a pre- and post survey that will assess their knowledge, attitudes as well as perceptions towards lab-grown meat compared to conventional meat and plant-based alternatives. The results of this study hope to gain insight into how well lab-grown meat products will be accepted among the college-aged population.

Anna Martucci

Nutrition and Dietetics Major

Health Communication Minor

I am a junior at Dominican University studying nutrition and dietetics with a minor in health communication. After obtaining my bachelor’s degree in nutrition and dietetics, I plan to earn a master’s degree, complete a dietetic internship, and sit for the Registered Dietitian Exam.

I wanted to pursue a degree in nutrition and dietetics after I became vegetarian during my sophomore year of high school. I found it fascinating how eating a healthier diet with more fruits and vegetables boosted my immune system and overall well-being. The field of nutrition I am most interested in would be plant-based or vegetarian nutrition. After a year of being involved with GROW, my interests have shifted into how sustainability translates into consumer food choices. I am hoping from this project that I can learn more about the sustainability industry and how we can make sustainable food more accessible to everyone.

My research examines consumer food/grocery choices when price is eliminated as a factor. Participants will shop in a simulated grocery store and be asked to select between 10 sets of an average item compared to an item similar with eco-labels. I will look at if other factors besides price still lead consumers to choose non-sustainable food items.

Jazmin Montes

Nutrition and Dietetics Major

As a sophomore student in Dominican University’s nutrition and dietetics program, I am certain that I am on the right track to achieving my career goals. So far, I have had the opportunity to learn about nutrition through many types of courses that have brought me on a new level of excitement. I hope to spread this excitement with innovative ideas to share them with the younger audience.

I would like to be able to incorporate knowledge and skills to aid the community in learning about how their traditional foods and diets could impact lifestyles and overall health. Being a part of the community through volunteering has been a way for me to gain experience working with people different than me while giving back in a positive way. After completing my studies at Dominican, my goal is to start working in a clinical setting; then perhaps advance to building my own private practice.

Socorro Nevarez

Nutrition and Dietetics Major

Health and nutrition have played an essential role in my life from an early age. Being diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis at the age of two has required me to be conscious of the diet I carry. I’ve been seeing a dietitian since then and currently still do. Her advice drastically changed my health and made me want to pass on what I’ve learned to others to help them live healthier and independent lives and avoid preventable diseases through a healthy diet and lifestyle changes.

I hope to work with others suffering from chronic illnesses and help those who can avoid preventable conditions live healthier lives and make a difference in their health and well-being. Since being in the GROW internship, I’ve strengthened my passion for sustainability and hope to continue to learn how to keep our planet healthy while helping others. My hope is that GROW can help participants in the program create more just and sustainable communities because having access to healthy food and environments should not be a privilege, but a right for all.

Emily Schellhase

Nutrition and Dietetics Major

I am a junior at Dominican University, member of the women's volleyball team, and vice president of SNDA. I found my passion for nutrition and dietetics during my recovery of disordered eating and as an athlete, I find it interesting what an important role food and nutrition has on athletes' performance. Because of this, I aspire to work in the field of sports nutrition, but open to many options! During my time in the GROW project so far, I have already learned so much and met many amazing people with the same passions and I am excited to continue my research and growing as a student!