Department News: What's Going on in the Nutrition Department?
Alexa Topakas, MSCN, RDN, LDN
Graduated with a Bachelors of Science in Nutrition & Dietetics,'17, and a Masters of Science in Community Nutrition '19 from WCU.
After finishing her undergraduate degree, Alexa didn't feel ready to pursue a dietetic internship. Instead, she opted to enroll in a Master's program at WCU and was fortunate enough to receive a Graduate Assistantship with both the Nutrition Department and the Campus Recreation Center. Alexa's time working with these departments allowed her to gain the necessary professional experience to confidently apply for other relevant positions. During her final year of the Master's program, Alexa worked part-time as an intern with the Philadelphia School District's Division of Foodservices. Here, she closely collaborated with RDNs who oversaw the NSLP, and learned a great deal about what it takes to operate a large-scale foodservice program while following USDA K-12 guidelines. With this experience under her belt, she finally felt ready to complete the Dietetic Internship, which she did through Utah State University's distance program in 2021. After passing the CDR, Alexa began working per diem at the hospital where she completed her clinical rotation, all while still keeping her hand in other foodservice industry experiences. As Alexa began her search for a more permanent and full-time opportunity, she stumbled upon a position that felt like it blended all her experiences. In August of 2022, Alexa began working for Aramark as Drexel Campus Dining's Registered Dietitian. In this role,Alexa applies her nutrition knowledge to cater to those with food allergies or dietary restrictions, while also using her foodservice experience and leadership/management skills in the unique university setting. Alexa enjoyed taking the alternate path in the foodservice world as an RDN. This industry is expanding with increasing opportunities for RDNs. Alexa urges others to explore them!
Melissa Aleo, Doctorate in Clinical Nutrition Candidate
Graduated with Bachelors in Nutrition and Dietetics from WCU in 2022 and currently completing the dietetic internship, as well as a Doctorate in Clinical Nutrition (DCN)
Melissa is currently a full-time graduate student at Fairfield University in Fairfield, CT, pursuing her Doctorate in Clinical Nutrition (DCN), as well as completing her dietetic internship. So far, she has finished her food service rotation and still has three more rotations (clinical I, clinical II, and community), as well as complete rigorous coursework. She plans to graduate in May of 2025. Even though Melissa is still a couple years away from attaining her RDN credential, her ultimate goal is to end up creating her own private practice. There are many areas of the nutrition and dietetics field that fascinate Melissa, however, intuitive eating and dismantling diet culture are truly her passions. She aspires to become a Certified Intuitive Eating Counselor as well as help people heal their relationships with food upon graduation.
From Melissa - "As I’m continuing my education in graduate school, I would like to take this time to truly shoutout WCU’s nutrition and dietetics program! I truly believe the curriculum prepared me for my current coursework, as well as the “real world” where nutrition is incredibly prevalent. I thought the nutrition classes were very thorough and the professors were nothing but helpful, kind-hearted, and hard-working people that contributed to my current success today. I wouldn’t be where I am today without my professor’s endless support."
Abby McMahon, RD, LDN
Graduated with Bachelors in Nutrition and Dietetics from WCU in 2020, completed dietetic internship at Johns Hopkins Medicine 2021.
Abby is currently working as a full-time clinical dietitian with Penn Medicine. She spends two-days per week at Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania at Cedar Avenue, a smaller community hospital in West Philly. The population is primarily Med/Surg, and many patients benefit from diet education, malnutrition and food insecurity identification, vitamin/mineral supplementation, and nutrition optimization for wound healing. She spends the remaining three-days at the main Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, where she is one of three dietitians covering the Neurology Services which include an ICU, step-down ICU, as well as general and epilepsy units. Many of these patients require short- or long-term tube feeding and/or assistance eating adequately on texture-modified diets, and Abby finds helping to nourish this population as part of their hospital nutrition care plan to be one of the most fulfilling parts of her job!
From Abby - "The nutrition department at West Chester University is the best! The MNT, Advanced Nutrition, and Clinical Nutrition Assessment courses not only provided me with the knowledge I needed to succeed in my dietetic internship rotations and beyond, but also inspired me to pursue a career in clinical nutrition in the first place. I also could not have gotten where I am today without the encouragement and mentorship of the staff. All you have to do is ask, and any professor is more than willing to offer advice and steer you towards outside-of-the-classroom opportunities for volunteerism, research, shadowing, and networking - which were integral for my development as a student. "
Cierra Peterlin, RD
Graduated with Bachelors in Nutrition and Dietetics from WCU in 2021, completed dietetic internship at University of Maryland, College Park, graduated in June 2022. Started Masters Science of Community Nutrition at WCU during senior year and plans to finish within the next 2-3 years.
Cierra passed her CDR in July 2022 and hit the road moving across the country for a position as a Food and Nutrition Educator for FoodCorps in August. Cierra currently works with San Diego Unified School District's Food and Nutrition Services and Farm2School Program. Most of Cierra's days involve outreach to local farmers to procure fresh produce that can be served in the district's 200 schools, collaborating with other nonprofit organizations to provide nutrition and gardening education to students in underserved schools and working with foodservice staff to increase the efficacy of the Farm2School Program in school cafeterias and promote healthy eating to students.
From Cierra - "The Nutrition Dept at West Chester University will always hold a special place in my heart. The support from all of my professors and their vast array of backgrounds in the nutrition field really set me up for success by exposing me to the wide array of work that can be done as a nutrition professional. I always recall my service-learning trip to Honduras with Dr. Sullivan after my 2nd year of undergrad as being a pivotal moment in my education and future career aspirations. This trip as well as my community nutrition classes really peaked my interest in food equity which lead me to pursue a generalist DI and ultimately brought me to the food systems space I currently work in and love."
Michelle Bernard, RDN, LDN
Graduated in May 2021 with a major in Nutrition & Dietetics, completed dietetic internship with Geisinger Medical Center in May 2022.
During my internship I knew I wanted to pursue a career in nutrition counseling and hoped to work in an outpatient setting. Now I work in an outpatient bariatric clinic where I prepare patients for weight loss surgery. Additionally, I use medical nutrition therapy to counsel patients who need help with weight loss but do not qualify or do not want surgery or medication.
From Michelle - "Looking back, I am grateful for my time at WCU. The motivation and support from my professors and peers are what set me up to thrive, first in my internship and now with my career. Nutrition classes and rotations from both WCU and Geisinger have shaped me into a well-rounded dietitian. The world of dietetics is full of opportunities. I am fortunate to have found appreciation and respect in a place I enjoy. My advice for nutrition students is to take the time to listen to your clients and avoid passing judgement. You could have all the knowledge in the world but establishing trust and building rapport is essential to a therapeutic relationship, and it is not something you can learn in a book. "
Graduated with her BS in Nutrition and Dietetics from WCU in 2019, completed her dietetic internship through Aramark in 2019-2020, and is currently pursuing an MPH with a nutrition emphasis at University of Massachusetts Amherst.
Madeline is currently working as a clinical dietitian at Tower Health- Reading Hospital located in Reading, Pennsylvania. She works to assess patients at nutritional risk, implement appropriate nutrition interventions, and provide diet education to patients and staff. In her current role, she assesses patients in various disease states including: critical care, cardiovascular, renal, diabetes, oncology, and cardiovascular. Madeline also is a member of the Clinical Nutrition Policy and Procedure Team.
From Madeline – “I am very grateful for all of the support I received through the nutrition department and professors at WCU. At the completion of my undergrad career, I felt confident in my nutrition knowledge, especially from my MNT and Advanced Human Nutrition courses to be set up for success in my internship and now my role as a clinical dietitian. It has been rewarding to connect with other WCU Nutrition alumni. I know I can always advocate for fellow West Chester nutrition students because they always show up for success!
Figen Odemis, RDN, LDN
Graduated with a BS in Nutrition and Dietetics from WCU in 2018, completing Aramark Dietetic Internship in 2020.
Figen is currently working as a Clinical Dietitian at Main Line Health Bryn Mawr Rehabilitation Hospital in Malvern, PA. She has a part-time per-diem position due to her family responsibilities, but is planning on gradually going for a full-time position in the near future. Figen worked in the same hospital for almost a year before the start of her Dietetic Internship as a foodservice and diet clerk employee. She also volunteered for three years at another Main Line Hospital where she gained clinical and patient food service experience.
Bryn Mawr Rehabilitation Hospital (BMRH) is an acute inpatient rehabilitation hospital where patients who are recovering from stroke, traumatic brain injury, concussions, etc. are getting treated with the help of all healthcare teams. Dietitians at BMRH manage their patients’ nutrition care in collaboration with rehabilitation doctors, nurses, speech therapists, psychologists, and communicate with the hospital foodservice/diet office on a daily basis. Just like other dietitians who work at BMRH, Figen is responsible for conducting nutrition assessments, implementing interventions, treating patients with complex nutrition-related conditions, nutrition support therapy, and providing nutritional education to patients/their families.
From Figen - “ I want to thank all my nutrition professors at WCU for all the knowledge they shared and provided for my professional growth in this field. I am forever grateful to them. I developed a desire to have a career as a Clinical Dietitian due to my interest in MNT classes offered by Dr. Alessandra Sarcona at WCU. It led me to be a better intern in clinical rotations during my Dietetic Internship. Having good bedside manners and being empathetic are good qualities to have in healthcare. Touching the hearts of my patients by having these characteristics and receiving their compliments was a great motivator for me during my Dietetic Internship clinical rotation, which gave me the courage to continue on the same clinical path. My one piece of advice for current dietetic students is to jump at the opportunity to work or volunteer at a hospital. This will allow them to engage in foodservice, shadow dietitians, and even take leadership positions down the road. In doing so, they will build a great foundation toward their dietetic internship and future careers.”
Jenni Lee, MS, NDTR
Graduated with a BS in Nutrition and Dietetics from WCU in 2019, graduated with a MS in Community Nutrition from WCU in 2020, and completed her Dietetic Internship at WCU in 2021.
Jenni received a job offer right after completing her internship. Originally, Jenni felt strongly her career path would take her the clinical route, but after completing her foodservice internship rotation. Working in school foodservice helped Jenni realize she could make a positive impact working with students daily. Jenni is currently working as a Foodservice Director for a school district that has six schools consisting of four elementary, one middle, and one high school, totaling about 4200 students. Working as a foodservice director has been extremely challenging throughout the pandemic, but truly rewarding knowing Jenni is helping so many students.
From Jenni -"After leaving WCU post-bachelors, I took a gap year to work and save for my internship and also gain work experience. During that time, I studied and passed my DTR exam. It was great that I could reach out to former professors for guidance regarding applying for an internship, jobs, and recommendations.
Samantha Maurer RD, LDN
Graduated with her BS in Nutrition and Dietetics from WCU in 2020 and completed her Dietetic Internship at Sodexo in 2021. Samantha will be finishing her Masters in Community Nutrition at WCU within the next year or two.
Samantha was recently hired at Sodexo at the new Penn State Health Hampden Medical Center in Enola, PA. The hospital opened October 1, 2021. Samantha is one of two dietitians at Hampden. The hospital is an acute care medical facility with an ED, ICU, and Labor and Delivery units. The hospital also has outpatient services including, Women's Health, Lab Imaging Services, Surgery and Noninvasive Diagnostic Cardiology. Samantha and the other dietitian will be seeing patients with medical conditions including cardiovascular, renal, gastrointestinal, diabetes, oncology, critical care, nutrition support, and bariatric surgery. The dietitians will be providing clinical nutrition services, including education, for a wide range of populations and medical conditions. Opening week was very busy and Samantha and the other dietitian started to get consultations for patients in the ICU, helped with training new staff in the kitchen, assisted in the tray delivery and patient dining experience, and many hospital and Sodexo training sessions. Samantha's first day started off with a consult for enteral nutrition for a patient in the ICU, who later ended up on mechanical ventilation. The dietitians have been busy with ICU patients on mechanical ventilation and tube feeds, COVID-19 patients, and Medical/Surgical patients. Samantha has also been helping as needed and when available, with "At Your Request" Sodexo's Dining Experience. Additionally, the dietitians are planning on spending time educating the staff about specific diets in order to provide safe, accurate, and nutritious meals.
From Samantha - "My experience in my undergrad program at WCU in my MNT classes have helped me truly understand medical conditions and apply my classes to actual patients. Additionally, foodservice management class at WCU allowed me to gain knowledge I used to make myself an outstanding Sodexo employee as I apply my knowledge in the kitchen when needed."
Aubrey Redd, MS, RDN
Graduated with her BS in Nutrition and Dietetics from WCU in 2018, her Masters in Community Nutrition from WCU in 2019, and completed her Post-Masters Dietetic Internship at WCU in 2021.
Aubrey is currently working part-time as an inpatient RDN for Crozer Health, while starting her private practice. At Crozer, Aubrey takes a more clinical approach to supporting patients throughout the network of hospitals during their stay. With her practice, Aubrey Redd Nutrition, LLC, she hopes to inspire and engage women to exit diet culture and form meaningful and healthy relationships with food. Through her own personal journey to find peace with food, she discovered many benefits of intuitive eating and is currently pursuing the path of becoming a Certified Intuitive Eating Counselor.
From Aubrey - "I could not have made it this far in my professional journey if it were not for the support and encouragement of my professors along the way. Even after I graduated from my master's and was deciding what to do next, I reached out to my professors for guidance on moving forward. These connections will last a lifetime, and I'm thankful I chose WCU for its amazing faculty!"
Katie Graham, MS, RD, LDN
Graduated with her BS in Nutrition and Dietetics from WCU in 2017, her Masters in Community Nutrition from WCU in 2019, and completed her Post-Masters Dietetic Internship at WCU in 2020.
Katie is currently working as a RDN for Sodexo through Lehigh Valley Health Network. Katie focuses on the outpatient setting based out of an Endocrinology office in East Stroudsburg, PA. Through that role, Katie has been able to expand her knowledge around MNT and Diabetes, and enjoys the integration of technology and nutrition with that population. Many clients Katie sees utilize CGM and insulin pumps to manage their diabetes. With the help of this technology and lifestyle changes, Katie is inspired by seeing regular improvements in many patients. Her next goal is to become a Certified Diabetes Care and Education Specialist (CDCES) by September 2022.
Paula Rubello, RDN, CDN
Graduated with her BS in Nutrition and Dietetics from WCU in 2019 and completed her Dietetic Internship at NYU in 2020.
Paula is currently working as a RDN for God's Love We Deliver, a non-profit organization in NYC that provides medically tailored meals to those who are too sick to cook for themselves. Paula provides her clients with nutrition assessments, counseling, and education. Paula creates nutrition handouts for her clients and specific dietary recommendations for many disease states, and gives presentations to affiliated organizations. In addition to working, Paula is on-track to complete her MS in Clinical Nutrition at NYU in December 2021, then hoping to become a Certified Eating Disorder Registered Dietitian. Check out Paula's professional Instagram @nutritiouspaula to learn ways to "ditch" diet culture, build a better relationship with food, and see some fun recipes. Paula loves to share her passion about the HAES movement, Intuitive Eating and "All Foods Fit" mentality.
From Paula - "I truly believe I would not be where I am if it weren't for each and every faculty member of WCU's department of nutrition. I learned a tremendous amount from all my professors. The support and guidance I received got me to where I wanted to be. The best part is, that I still feel that I have that support and would not hesitate to reach out if I needed to."
Jena Wood, MS, RD, LDN
Graduated with her BS in Nutrition and Dietetics, and Minor in Communication Studies in 2013, followed by her MS in Community Nutrition in 2018, both from WCU. Jena completed her Dietetic Internship in 2014 at Sodexo.
Jena has worked as a retail dietitian at ShopRite since 2014. Being a supermarket dietitian has been a unique mix of community, foodservice, and MNT - it's a perfect position for nutrition professionals who enjoy daily variety. The flexibility of Jena's position has allowed her to keep busy with other nutrition opportunities including being an adjunct professor, corporate wellness, PhillyAND board member and student, guest speaker, and is currently working on her doctorate.
From Jena - "I truly believe being involved with the SDA board and other campus groups helped me be a well-rounded nutrition professional. The numerous opportunities, lessons learned, and contacts made with these groups have helped me post-graduation and I cannot recommend joining campus groups more highly!"
Joy Douglass, MS, RD, LDN
Joy graduated with her BS in Nutrition and Dietetics in 2017, followed by her MS in Community Nutrition in 2018, both from WCU. Upon graduating, Joy completed her Post-Master's Dietetic Internship Certificate Program in 2020 at WCU.
Since November 2020, Joy has been a health coach at Noom, Inc. Given the state of the world when Joy entered the dietetics workforce, becoming a health coach at Noom gave her the opportunity to work safely from home, while honing motivational interviewing skills. There have been many continuing education opportunities that have helped her expand her understanding and knowledge in many different areas of dietetics - from intuitive eating to MNT!
Cat Hammer, MS, RDN, LDN
Graduated from WCU with her BS in Nutrition and Dietetics in 2018, followed by her MS in Exercise and Nutrition Science from the University of Tampa in 2019, followed by her Dietetic Internship at Virginia Tech in 2020.
Cat is currently working as a Sports Nutritionist RDN at the University of Pennsylvania where she overseas the nutritional needs of 16 D1 Athletic Teams. Within her role, she counsels athletes 1:1 and in team settings on the importance of fueling for training, performance, and recovery with the goal of optimizing athletic performance. Cat also conducts body composition testing and is on multiple committees with the Athletic Department such as the Sports Nutrition and Injury Prevention Task Force and the SmartHer Campaign, which are multidisciplinary groups compromised of Penn Medicine, Sports Performance, and Student Health Staff. Cat also owns a business called Hammer Fuel Sports Nutrition, where she counsels high school, collegiate, and professional athletes on optimal fueling strategies for their sport and athletic goals. Check out Cat's website or Instagram, @hammer_fuel to learn tips and tricks to train, perform, and recover properly.
From Cat - "My love for Sports Nutrition is attributed to my advisor and mentor while at WCU, Dr. Christine Karpinski. I am so grateful for her mentorship and the opportunities that were provided to me at WCU that have given me the ability and knowledge to pursue my career."
Barbara Ransom, RD, LDN
Graduated from WCU with her BS in Nutrition and Dietetics in 2020, followed by her Dietetic Internship at St. Louis Veterans Affairs in 2021.
Barbara is beginning her first role as an outpatient dietitian at Veterans Affairs VA Clinic in Tennessee. It is a new clinic and Barbara will be establishing the clinic's nutrition program. Barbara will provide individualized nutrition counseling and teach group classes with topics based on the needs of the population. The VA Healthcare System is a unique place to work as a dietitian because of the emphasis on mental health in addition to physical health. Counseling topics range from food insecurity, diabetes prevention and management, malnutrition treatment, heart health, and more. Completing her internship at the VA hospital gave her the training for how to best support the Veterans in reaching their nutrition goals in her new position.
From Barbara - "Learning motivational interviewing and having the opportunity to counsel a WCU staff member was an incredibly valuable experience. This experience showed me the interest I had in nutrition counseling and allowed me to hit the ground running in my outpatient rotations. Having a solid base in motivational interviewing also helped me connect personally with Veterans and provide patient-centered care throughout my internship. Additionally, the support of the nutrition department professors has been so helpful. Many professors took the time to listen and provide guidance for how to reach my goals within the field. I am grateful that the support has continued even past graduation."
Sean O'Brien, RD, LDN
Graduated from WCU with a BS in Nutrition and Dietetics in 2019. Completed Aramark Dietetic Internship in 2020.
Sean is currently working as a clinical dietitian at Penn State Health St. Joseph Medical Center in Reading, PA. Sean functions as a consultant and member of the health care team providing evidence-based nutrition care to both high and low acuity patients. In this role, Sean is responsible for conducting nutrition assessments, implementing appropriate interventions, and providing diet education to patients and families. Sean serves a diverse patient population with a variety of disease states including but not limited to cardiovascular, renal, gastrointestinal, diabetes, cancer, and critical care requiring nutrition support. Sean and his colleagues are currently working to increase the awareness of malnutrition in their hospital and will be presenting on the topic of malnutrition to the hospital physicians.
From Sean - "I believe the nutrition curriculum at WCU, specifically the classes of MNT, advanced human nutrition, and biochemistry prepared me well for my current role in clinical nutrition. I'd also like to give credit to the whole nutrition department for the constant opportunities provided for growth and for producing career-ready graduates no matter what practice area they choose."
Amy Wagner, MS, RD, LDN
Graduated with her BS in Nutrition & Dietetics and Minor in French from WCU in 2019, followed by completing her Dietetic Internship with Morrison Healthcare in 2020, and completing her Masters in Community Nutrition with WCU in 2021.
Amy is currently working as a Clinical Dietitian with both Virtua Health and Inspira Health Network in New Jersey where she provides inpatient care to a diverse patient population including endocrine, bariatric, cardiac, renal, oncology, gastrointestinal, and those requiring nutrition support. Her clinical strengths include a warm bedside manner, effective communication amongst the interdisciplinary team, and teaching diet education to patients where she has developed an aptitude for educating and providing care to post op bariatric patients. During her graduate career with West Chester University, Amy worked as Dr. Golmohamadi's Graduate Assistant where she managed undergrad volunteers and structured the 2020 and Spring 2021 Nutrition Department Newsletters. She also revamped the Nutrition Department Instagram page introducing several weekly trends as well as Highlights, Reels, and a Linktree for the page. During her undergraduate time at West Chester University, Amy was involved in three nutrition department study abroad trips: France and Italy (2016), Greece and Italy (2017), and Portugal and Spain (2018) where she immersed herself and grew a passion for nutrition food ways and practices throughout various cultures all of which are highlighted in her Online Portfolio.
From Amy- "I plan on starting my career as a Clinical Dietitian to strengthen my clinical skills. In the future I plan to apply and attend the University of Gastronomic Sciences of Pollenzo, Italy, which I toured on my first nutrition department trip, to obtain an additional Masters in Gastronomy: World Food Cultures and Mobility. The professors within this department have supported and shaped me into the Dietitian I am today, and I will forever be grateful to each and every one of them."
Graduated with a BS in Nutrition with a concentration in Lifestyle Nutrition from WCU in 2020. India has been accepted into the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where she will complete a Master of Public Health with a concentration in Dietetics.
India is currently working as a program associate at Oasis Farm and Fishery at Bible Center Church. Oasis Farm and Fishery is one of six outreach initiatives under the Oasis Project at Bible Center Church with a mission of growing food, growing people, and growing community. Working on the farm is all-hands on deck and India has been able to participate in interesting projects such as writing newsletters for their veggie subscription, transplanting produce and trees in the garden, harvesting lettuce and greens to deliver to a local cafe, designing nutrition and wellness lesson plans for their teen summer internship program "Field to Fork," and teaching nutrition education and cooking classes to youth 6-12 years old for their Better Food, Better Me Program.
From India - "My entire experience at WCU as a nutrition student was impactful. The nutrition department was extremely supportive in helping me navigate my undergrad career. I will say that a pivotal moment in my college experience was going on the study abroad trip to Costa Rica with Dr. Subach to study the country's foodways. My perspective on a career in nutrition changed on that trip and I realized that I can trail blaze my own individualized career path that's centered around my love for food, wellness, and cultivating community connections.
Graduated with a B.S. in Nutrition with a concentration in Lifestyle Nutrition and a minor in Autism Education at WCU in May 2021.
Caroline has recently started her career at Care Team Health, a company who delivers comprehensive primary care services to their clients' workplace. Caroline is a Programs and Operations Coordinator, focusing on daily operations in the clinics and client success through coaching and program development. During Caroline's time at WCU, she was exposed to so many different avenues of wellness and wanted a job that encompassed her favorite aspects of her education and gave her a variety of opportunities to grow her skill set. Caroline's involvement in the Lifestyle Nutrition Club and Wellness Wednesday program helped her strengthen her skills in health promotion and let her use her creativity to develop Wellness presentations for fellow students. This experience inspired Caroline to pursue a career centered in educating others on living a healthy lifestyle. In her current role, Caroline is paired with various patients as their health mentor. After their annual visit with their provided, Caroline meets with them to help coach them through their care plan whether their goal is to quit smoking, eat healthier, or follow-through on their diabetic care plan. On project Caroline is currently working on is an 8-week diabetes prevention program to help patients learn how small changes can make a big impact on their health.
From Caroline - "My senior counseling project in Dr. Sarcona's class prepared me for the mentoring and coaching aspect of my role at Care Team. I have enjoyed getting to apply what I learned in the classroom, in my career."
Graduated with a BS in Nutrition with a concentration in Sustainable Food Systems Management at WCU in 2020.
Andie is currently working as a Nutrition Outreach & Education Intern at Rolling Harvest Food Rescue, a non-profit organization that donates excess produce to people in need. Andie's role is quite versatile in responsibilities including procuring community donations, making pantry distributions, gleaning fields, networking with farmers and local food pantries, creating cooking videos, cooking samples for nutrition events, and working with a childrens' camp to teach the value of fresh, seasonal vegetables. In addition to her internship, Andie is an emerging entrepreneur working toward opening a hybrid marketplace that combines a package-free grocery store and vegetarian cafe.
From Andie - As a WCU undergrad, getting involved with Dr. Subach in the food lab and the Athletic Department Fuel Program, conducting research with several professors, being part of the campus-wide movement to increase Fair Trade products, and the interdisciplinary approach of the SFSM track thoroughly prepared me for my post-bachelors journey. Additionally, without the practical experiences of the entrepreneurial classes taught by Dr. Holik, and his excellent guidance and support, I would not be where I am today; he has truly been integral in my career goals."
Graduated with a BS in Nutrition with a concentration in Sustainable Food Systems Management at WCU in 2020.
Syreeta is working for Metz Culinary Management as a Foodservice Manager at Arcadia University in Glenside, PA. Syreeta is working closely with the Knights Food Pantry and Metz Corporate Nutritionist to start a full-service Nutrition Program on campus for students. The program includes access to a campus food resource pantry, Nutrition 101 classes held every week, and cooking demonstrations. Syreeta will begin a Graduate Certificate in Agricultural Biosecurity and Food Defense at Penn State University. Syreeta worked closely with Dr. Amir at WCU conducting research regarding the country's Water Footprint and its connections to food waste and climate change. Syreeta hopes to work alongside scientists and farmers one day to help reduce waste and improve farm conditions to better the quality and quantity for future generations.
From Syreeta - "The SFSM and nutrition department staff always answered all my questions and helped me every step of the way since the beginning. I learned every aspect of nutrition and all that I can do with my knowledge and expertise. I am thankful to have been a part of such a wonderful and quickly growing program and I am looking forward to seeing what the professors and students will do in the future. I am especially thankful to Dr. Holik and Dr. Amir who have been extremely helpful and encouraging over the years."
Graduated with a BS in Nutrition with concentration in Sustainable Food Systems Management in 2020
Alyssa is currently working as the Apprentice Cheesemaker at James Ranch in Durango, CO. James Ranch is a 400-acre, fully regenerative farm that sits in the Animas River Valley among the San Juan Mountain Range in Southwest Colorado. The sustainable model of James Ranch is built on ensuring completely closed loop systems throughout all aspects of production on the ranch which include dairy, beef, pork, poultry, and a variety of seasonal crops, as well as foodservice and retail operations. Closed loop means all sectors of the ranch work in symbiosis to feed the soil, reduce waste and pollution, provide nutrient dense food to the community throughout the year, and support the local community through art, entertainment, and education. Alyssa helps milk the 100% grass-fed Jersey cows and then turns their incredibly nutritious milk into a variety of raw, dry-aged cheeses and occasionally fresh cheese. Because James Ranch only milks their cows seasonally, the cheeses created by Alyssa and her mentor Dan, preserve only the highest nutrient quality at peak season. In the near future, Alyssa plans to put her knowledge gained from her apprenticeship to work by advocating for positive change in the food system and food policy by attending law school.
From Alyssa - "Without my education, the SFSM concentration, and sustainability extracurriculars at WCU, I would not have gotten this incredible and unique opportunity to jumpstart my career. WCU and the Nutrition Department encouraged me to pursue my passion for creating a sustainable future and opened up entirely new worlds to me to pursue my passion for creating a sustainable future and opened up entirely new worlds to me through service-work opportunities. My professors gave me the tools to move forward in my career and taught me how to do great research then formulate it into meaningful writing. In my time at WCU, I gained a strong network of friends and colleagues and am so grateful for the Nutrition Department's devotion to creating an equitable, just, and accessible food system for all."
Graduated from WCU with a BS in Nutrition with a concentration in Sustainable Food Systems Management in 2020.
Kathleen is currently working in business development for Loop, a TerraCycle company. TerraCycle's mission is to eliminate the idea of waste. For the last 20-years, TerraCycle has worked with well-known brands; Barilla, Campbells, and Ocean Spray, to offer national recycling programs for products/packaging that are not accepted through municipal recycling programs. Through Loop, TerraCycle is working toward the same mission, now designing out of waste through developing durable, reusable packaging, and taking a modern approach to the well-known milk man model. Kathleen is responsible for speaking with well-known brands to understand their supply chain, quality assurance standards, marketing communication, and sustainability goals to make the transition to reuse possible for different products. In addition to working fulltime, Kathleen is researching masters program in sustainable business and plans to begin her degree soon.
From Kathleen - "The SFSM and nutrition department staff were always supportive of new ideas and offered support to bring those ideas to life. The autonomy presented through the sustainable food systems track allowed me to customize my projects toward my personal career goals, develop my leadership skills, and pushed me to pave my own path in a new industry sector."
CHS Nourish Program Sponsored by the Dean's Office and Provided by Nutrition and Dietetics Students and Faculty FA22. Each month, the nutrition and dietetics department and food systems club create healthy snacks to giveaway, providing nourishment to students. Can find the food offered usually the third week of each month during fall and spring semesters in Struzebecker, SECC, and Carter Drive, and Whitehall.
Alumni Events and FNCE