Aug. 4, 2014
WEST HAVEN, CONN. -- Carolina Marrero has a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree - both from the University of New Haven - but she needs one more important credential to pursue her dream of being a registered dietitian, and a highly prized scholarship will make sure that happens.
Marrero, who is from East Brunswick, N.J., was awarded a $5,000 scholarship from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Foundation. The academy is the world’s largest organization of food and nutrition professionals, and the scholarship will make it possible for Marrero to complete a dietetic internship at Rutgers University, her first-choice school, in August.
Scholarships from the foundation are very competitive and most are at much lower levels than $5,000. “I expected that if I even got one at all, I would probably get a $100 scholarship,” Marrero says. “I was thrilled.”
Supervised internships in dietetics also are very competitive and the match rate - getting students matched with their first-choice school – is less than 50 percent, Marrero said. She wanted Rutgers because it is affiliated with both a medical school and Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital.
Although she hopes to work in clinical nutrition, her rotation in the 10-month program will include work in community nutrition, a dialysis facility, long-term care facility and food service management.
“The concentration of the program is medical nutrition therapy in clinical and community dietetics,” she says. “I have wanted to be a dietitian since I was a junior in high school.”
Currently taking her summer class to prepare for the internship, the 25-year old Marrero, who received her B.S. degree in 2011, is happy with her career choice. “Nutrition is a growing field and there are so many avenues you can take in your working life. A growing area in health care is preventive care, and nutrition is exactly that.”
UNH prepared her well for the internship, she said. “You can’t learn everything in the classroom, and that’s where work experience comes in,” she says. “But you can’t learn everything in the workplace, either.”
Marrero, who worked at Community Medical Center in Toms River, N.J., as a dietary assistant for the last year while finishing her thesis for the UNH master’s program, said she would be completing a task at work and realize, “Oh, this was what we learned in chapter five. I worked with many people who had 20 years of experience and knew what they were doing, but they didn’t know the theory behind what they were doing.”
UNH professors, such as Rosa Mo and Amy Krystock, not only taught her the theory, she says, but motivated her to work in the field.
When she completes her internship there will be one last obstacle to becoming a practicing dietitian: sitting for the national Registered Dietitian exam.
The University of New Haven is a private, top-tier comprehensive institution recognized as a national leader in experiential education. Founded in 1920 the university enrolls approximately 1,800 graduate students and more than 4,600 undergraduates.