Q&A with our 2016-17 student reps

As we transition to the 2017-18 year, we say goodbye to our excellent 2016-17 student representatives (except Lauren Rice, who is staying on as public relations co-chair). Enjoy this Q&A interview, conducted by our new president, Angel Planells, MS, RDN, CD.

Q: Prior to entering nutrition, tell us briefly about yourself
Amanda van Duren

Amanda van Duren

Amanda van Duren: I attended culinary school at the Art Institute of Seattle. Afterwards, I worked as a line cook in various boutique hotels. I worked primarily in the banquet department where I prepared buffets, multi-course plated dinners, and hors d’oeuvres for groups and weddings serving between 10 to 250 guests.

Lauren Rice: I worked in Washington D.C. for 5 years in financial management before moving to Seattle to begin my master’s program at the University of Washington. I realized early on in my finance career that the work I was doing was not contributing in the way that I hoped, which sparked my decision to become a dietitian.

Layla Ghassemian: Prior to starting my master’s program at Bastyr University, I obtained my BS in biology, and was working and residing in San Diego, CA. I was working at a physician’s office that focused on holistic approaches to health and also worked as a yoga instructor.

Q: What brought you into the field of nutrition & dietetics?
Lauren Rice

Lauren Rice

Amanda van Duren: I was drawn to the field of nutrition and dietetics due to my endless curiosities around food. I realized how fascinated I was by the relationship between diet and health after taking an introductory human nutrition course during culinary school – I yearned to return to school and study nutrition. After years of working and completing prerequisites, I transferred to SPU and I’m finishing my DPD program this year.

Lauren Rice: I was motivated to study nutrition because food is powerful, and nutrition is an essential component of health. What science tells us about nutrition is constantly evolving, so nutrition professionals have the unique opportunity to be perpetual learners. At the heart of it, I studied nutrition so I could connect, teach, and share my passion with patients/clients.

Layla Ghassemian: I entered college with the hopes of becoming a physician. It wasn’t until I became a vegetarian at the end of my freshman year that I discovered my love for nutrition and dietetics. Eliminating meat from my diet forced me to research nutrition to make sure I was consuming a well-balanced diet. It was through this process that I discovered the power of food as medicine. I quickly realized my desire to be more on the preventative side of healthcare and decided to become an RD after completing my undergraduate degree.

Q: Where do you see yourself going into the field?

Layla Ghassemian

Amanda van Duren: I find myself drawn to clinical nutrition. I have enjoyed working in fast-paced kitchens during my past professional life, and I see myself working in a large, fast-paced hospital. I have also really enjoyed studying MNT and would like to continue learning and gain experience in that area. Long-term, I could see myself in research as I am currently working in research while completing my DPD program.

Lauren Rice: My dream is to work in the inpatient clinical setting while also managing a part-time private practice. I absolutely love connecting with people and enjoy the fast-past environment of the inpatient setting; however, I also hope to develop long-term relationships with clients through my private practice.

Layla Ghassemian: As of now I am not sure where I see myself going. I hope to obtain a clinically focused dietetic internship and working in a clinical setting after completing my internship. That being said, I do have interest in pediatrics, oncology, and sports nutrition. I am hoping my internship will help me discover my future specialty.

Q: Anything else you want to share with the group?

Amanda van Duren: I love a good cappuccino or a bottle of ginger kombucha; food-wise I love oysters, fresh-made pasta and all things spicy. My favorite hobby is traveling, I have traveled to New York, Paris, London, Vienna, Vancouver BC and Tokyo within the last year. I don’t have much free time with my schedule, but anytime there is a break from school I try to get out of Seattle and see somewhere new. Other hobbies of mine include reading, cooking and trying new restaurants.

Lauren Rice: I’m a coffee addict, and one of my favorite things to do is spend many hours working at coffee shops all over Seattle! If anyone has recommendations, please send them my way! 🙂 I also recently launched my own company, Nutrition Elevated, LLC (www.nutrition-elevated.com), where I promote an anti-diet approach to health while also tying in evidence-based nutrition information. It’s been such a fun venture and has helped me connect with like-minded nutrition professionals all over the country.

Layla Ghassemian: My favorite foods include sushi, Thai, Vietnamese, Mexican, and Persian food.