Members in the News

Interview of Gwendoline Balto, UIUC Student

1. Describe what interests you about this profession or any of your future plans in the profession.

"I am a recent graduate of UIUC; I majored in Food Science and Human Nutrition with a concentration in dietetics. I have been admitted to the UIUC master thesis program of clinical and community nutrition where I will be completing my degree prior to completion of a dietetic internship. As of now, my interests are geared towards community nutrition but I am hoping to gain clinical experience related to nutrition support."

2. Describe an experience that sticks with you.
"My infatuation with dietetics within the field of research is the broad scope of the field; I've been able to collaborate with students and professors investigating effects of artificial sweeteners on insulin production, household food waste production and cohort studies aiming to treat obesity through a weight loss program."

3. What foods and flavors are you enjoying lately?
"Especially with the new summer weather, strawberry nutella smoothies have been a great addition to my afternoon breaks!"

Yaa Boakye HeadshotInterview of Yaa Boakye, fellow dietetic intern, by Judy Wen, Pathways Student



1. How did you find out about the dietetics profession? /How did your past experiences lead you to become interested in nutrition/dietetics?
"Over the past decade the gym has been my sanctuary; it has provided me a place to relieve stress and helped me achieve my best physique. After what seemed like endless hours in the gym, practicing posing routines daily, and exercising every fiber of mental discipline I had, I achieved my goal by becoming a nationally qualified bikini bodybuilder. Through this process, I was reminded that proper nutrition is paramount to reaching success in bodybuilding; however, it can be the most confusing part for most athletes. During my training, I turned to coaches and teammates for recommendations pertaining to nutrition. They gave me advice but provided no scientific evidence to prove how their advice would help me attain my goals. As I began doing my own research into nutrition, I discovered that becoming a Registered Dietitian would provide me with scientific evidence and be a great career given my personal and professional goals. While readying myself to become an RD, I worked as a personal trainer (NCSF) and became a certified Sport Nutrition Specialist (NCSF). I also trained with Bob Seebohar, RD, to become a Metabolic Efficiency Training Specialist."

2. What has been the high point of your DI experience so far? And any low point?
A high point has been being able to see my confidence grow in confidently reviewing patient charts, talk to their nurse, their pharmacist (when applicable) and chart on the patient quickly. The low-point, is actually on-going, the long commute. I drive 80 to 100+ miles a day, which is pretty taxing. I make the best of my commute by listening to podcasts and audiobooks.

3. What do you do in your free time?
In my free-time I like to workout, eat IHOP pancakes, visit thrift stores to hunt for orange tag Levi’s and vintage Wrangler jeans.

4. Something you wish you knew earlier in regard to the DI?
There are a few things I wish I knew! I wish I knew the importance of memorizing lab values, medical abbreviations, common medications, and implications for various disease states. When you invest the time in doing this, or at the very least organizing the above mentioned in a document, you can more quickly understand how you can help that patient. Additionally, having a solid understanding of the above will improve your communication with nurses and pharmacists. If you don't know where to start, I recommend everyone check out Shani Goldman's Nutrition Cheat Sheets.

 Sara Interview SnapshotInterview of Sara Umphfleet, IAND President, by Megan Vallas, Pathways Student

1. What kind of nutrition topics do you typically talk about on the radio?
Sara lives in a small town by the Quad Cities and will talk about various nutrition topics on the radio. She typically keeps everything general on the radio. The population that listens to the local radio is an older generation. She mentioned that not very many younger people will listen to the radio. Recently, she talked about healthy holiday eating and how to limit weight gain. She talks for about 10 minutes and will try to focus on different nutrition topics each month. For example, she typically talks about diabetes awareness in November, heart health in February, and national nutrition month in March.

2. What is your favorite part of your job?
Sara's favorite part of her job involves a few specific individuals she likes to educate. It’s usually those in the older generation that come in for education that have previously gone to a diet center or tried dieting in the past. She educates them in general about healthy eating, but also will do diabetes and chronic kidney disease education as well. She likes this population because they actually take things away from the session and try to implement them. She has also been working in the kitchen at her hospital because they are short staffed right now. She cooks and serves the staff lunch while working. She talked about how interesting it is being a dietitian and doing normal kitchen duties that you would normally do with an entry level job. It’s fun and different and allows her to wear multiple hats.

3. Do you feel like you see the same types of cases since you live in a rural area, or do you see a variety?
Sara does not see a variety at her hospital. She sees a lot of patients for weight loss, diabetes, and chronic kidney disease. She does occasionally see some interesting cases such as pediatric obesity, eating disorders, bariatric weight loss, cardiac disease, and food allergies. Sara sends anything really specialized to Peoria.

4. What made you want to have a leadership position within IAND?
Sara became a dietitian in 2016/2017 and moved to Illinois from Iowa. She then got involved in her district and applied for a leadership position with IAND. She originally applied for CPI Chair-Elect, but ended up being the CPI Chair for 2 years after the original CPI Chair dropped out. She talked about how the organization was struggling with getting leaders, so she eventually applied for President Elect. Even though she felt she wasn’t a very good leader, she knew they needed leaders and decided to step up and apply to do it.