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Spread Our Enthusiasm: We Are the Best Recruiters for Our Profession

      Angela R. Fauci Scarangella, one of my students at the University of Connecticut and a personal trainer and triathlete is pursuing a second degree and RDN credential because of her interest in health and wellness. She is also helping to spread the word among local high school teachers and their students.
      “I began racing in Ironman Triathlons 14 years ago,” Scarangella says. “As I progressed and qualified for World Championships in my age group, nutrition was a key factor in performing and training. My interest in the sport led me to get my certification as a personal trainer and triathlete coach. I found myself spending a lot of time with my clients reviewing and modifying their nutrition. This has led me to want to learn more about the field and to become a registered dietitian.”
      NDEP’s New Recruitment Videos
      The Nutrition and Dietetic Educators and Preceptors (NDEP) Diversity, Equity and Inclusion recruitment video task force has created three videos aimed at increasing a diverse pipeline of students into the profession from the elementary, middle and high school settings. Video content incorporates diversity in multiple aspects, including race and ethnicity, males, body size, gender identity and religion.
      The videos are specifically geared toward elementary, middle and high school audiences. Videos can be viewed in educational and professional settings including classrooms, career fairs and STEM-focused programs.
      Nine interviewees include registered dietitian nutritionists and a graduate student from diverse backgrounds, races, ethnicities and age groups and are at different stages in their careers. They work across multiple practice settings, including community, clinical, foodservice and education.
      In November 2022, Scarangella attended a wellness fair for teachers at Glastonbury, Conn., High School, where her son is a junior and where her employer, Healthtrax Fitness and Wellness Fitness Center, was invited to facilitate nutrition-related information and activity class sessions. “I brought UConn’s 4 + 1 Coordinated Dietetics + MS in Health Promotion Science brochure of UCONN Health Sciences and had discussions with teachers about some of their students’ interest in obtaining a nutrition degree.”
      Scarangella – who is planning additional ways to, in her words, “spread my enthusiasm” to high schoolers – urges students, practitioners and program representatives to reach out to schools, particularly in underserved areas, and for college students to seek opportunities such as internships to teach high school students about their programs.
      “Good nutrition has fueled my athletic performance and desire to earn a second degree,” she says. “I’m excited to become an expert in dietetics and help others achieve a healthy lifestyle.”
      One of my former students, Ingrid A. Soto, MS, RDN, of Marlton, NJ, is an entrepreneur, mentor and CEO of MyRDguide and Artillery Fitness and Nutrition. She says she was interested in high school in becoming a physician and was advised by her counselor to major in nutrition in college. “She said it would make me a strong medical student candidate and a better doctor overall. After taking my first nutrition class, I fell in love with the dietetics profession.” She switched majors, earned a bachelor’s degree in nutritional science and dietetics and a master’s degree in health promotion from UConn.
      While in college, Soto was involved in the Puerto Rican/Latin American Cultural Center mentorship program, “which provided a support system and a safe place to grow personally and professionally. I always knew I wanted to give this to a broader population and be that support system for others. In the last five years, MyRDguide has mentored and tutored hundreds of students pursuing a career in dietetics.”
      As an entrepreneur, Soto says she’s a big believer in creating one’s own destiny. “If we demand higher pay, we need to believe that we are the experts in the field and share our knowledge with the world. One of our significant responsibilities as RDNs is to mentor the younger generation.”
      I couldn’t agree more. My deep thanks to all who are working hard to encourage others, especially young people, to consider our profession, and I hope all Academy members will do the same. We are the best recruiters for our profession!