Student Award Winners - 2014

NEP was pleased to award two student NEP members’ scholarships to help support their attendance at FNCE® in Atlanta. Our awardees were Michael Hidrosollo and Nataliia Johnson.

Michael Hidrosollo

Nataliia Johnson

Michael is a graduate of the University of Nevada Las Vegas (2014). He plans to apply for Fall 2015 Dietetic Internships in February.

Nataliia is a graduate of Tennessee State University (2013). She is currently completing her dietetic internship at Vanderbilt University.


Michael Hidrosollo - As a student approaching graduation, attending the Food and Nutrition Conference and Expo (FNCE) has been an amazing experience. I had always had a vague idea of the direction I wanted to take my career as a future Registered Dietitian. Coming to FNCE, I had the chance to explore those career paths and hear about the experiences and research directly from the people behind them. It was practically seeing my potential career paths in action -- learning the downfalls and triumphs that I may encounter in my endeavors.

One of the more interesting educational tracks that I had attended discussed the topic of motivation and the evidence behind motivational interviewing techniques to be used with people and clients. Sparking motivation is such a valuable tool in the public workspace. It's motivation that keeps people listening to the information and encourages follow-ups for continued care. It's a valuable skill to learn -- and I felt absolutely privileged to be able to learn the evidence-based research behind the differing techniques that invigorate motivation. These are essential skills that can help strengthen my skills as an educator, especially in regard to public health. It's one thing to have the knowledge to share with the public. It's another beast to learn the skills to deliver that information in an effective and captivating way. Communication is a skill that somewhat gets lost in the shuffle as a student heavily focused on science coursework.

FNCE has also provided a wealth of knowledge for those exploring careers in dietetics. From providing sessions to show how to excel with social media, to uncovering more non-traditional career paths in dietetics, I had a chance to get a taste of it all. Not only did I get the opportunity to learn about the different places I can take my career, I learned of ways to succeed with these pursuits. Dietitians from all over the country told their career story -- which included experiences of both downfalls and triumphs. It's the sharing of lessons learned from these mistakes that made me more prepared for what to expect in the field.

The sessions weren't everything that FNCE offered. After the set convention time hours, there were many networking events organized by various Dietetic Practice Groups (DPGs). Through these events, I had the pleasure to spend some one-on-one time meeting RDNs from various career fields. I've met RDNs that fought food insecurity. There were dietitians who were public educators. Another interesting RDN I met was a culinary educator with a background in both the culinary and dietetics field. Meeting these people was invaluable to me. I had the chance to learn how they got to where they were and hear about the rewards and challenges that exist within each discipline. They were all friendly, open, and honest -- especially to me as a student learning the way of the field.

I was absolutely ecstatic that I was able to meet other dietitians in the public health and nutrition arena. It's a field that I am particularly interested and passionate about. Teaching nutrition education and sparking discussions about food is something I absolutely love doing around the community. Food is something I've noticed that brings people together -- whether it is around the family dinner table or at a festival that brings in thousands of people. From my brief time working around the community nutrition setting, I've learned that this area can be much more than nutrition science. It's about working with people and building a lifestyle that works with their current life situation. This area of the field really tests people skills, while alos presenting the opportunity to continue to bring evidence-based information to the public.

The education sessions at FNCE were able to bring me the knowledge, the networking allowed me to form bonds, and the overall experience made me a better and stronger person at both an individual and professional level. I cannot wait to bring these skills with me as I work on my way to become a registered dietitian.


Nataliia Johnson - Words cannot describe how grateful I am and how much I appreciate the Nutrition Education for the Public DPG for giving me an amazing opportunity to attend the 2014 Food and Nutrition Conference and Expo in Atlanta, GA. This meeting brought together so many leading dietitians, doctors, researchers, and experts in the field of health promotion in order to expand our knowledge and challenge our beliefs. A sea of groundbreaking information, relevant research, and A-list speakers made me want to dive in even deeper to unravel current issues.

Four days of the conference were filled with exciting presentations and exceptional speakers. There were so many sessions that sparked my interest! But there were some that stood out. First, I really enjoyed the session "Power of Storytelling to Inspire, Influence, and Motivate." I feel like a person can have all the nutritional knowledge in the world but if a dietitian does not use strategies to inspire and motivate a client, he will be less likely to succeed on his journal. Speakers Annette Simmons, BS, MS and Jean Storlie, MS, RD guided us through ways to use stories in nutrition counseling and group education settings. They taught us how to apply inspiration sources to create stories to change attitudes and behaviors in nutrition counseling, education, nutrition advocacy, and team leadership.

The second session that I really enjoyed was "Nontraditional Career Paths in Dietetics." What a great presentation that was! The presentation was led by RDs who came from such different backgrounds and achieved success through nontraditional career paths. We looked at the career path options for RDNs who do not want to work in a hospital clinical setting. Numerous health and wellness campaigns bring awareness to the public and create jobs for nutrition professionals. Finally, we were presented with great resources that would help us to research alternative career paths using the Internet and networking contacts.

The third session made the biggest impact on me. It was presented by Robert Jesse, MD, Ph.D. TEchnology, innovation, and changing healthcare policies will give nutrition professionals opportunities to play an important role in improving the health of U.S. citizens. We are living in a world of constant change. As future RDNs, we have to embracfe the change and march along with the process. With the help of technology and innovations RDNs can reach and change the lives of greater numbers of people at once. Education for the public just got much easier. We need to implement these innovative strategies to provide nutrition services to clients and organizations. Also, I feel like everyone who is interested in promoting health in the community has to attend the session "GENIE: Your Nutrition Education Wishes Have Been Granted!" I really enjoyed the in-depth explanation of "GENIE," a new assessment tool that will help us develop effective educational programs, evaluate our research proposals, and much more.

Not only were our days filled with incredible presentations, they were also filled with fun social and networking events. I enjoyed the meet and greet reception and exhibits where we all could enjoy great food, good company, and discover new products on the market.

All in all, the 2014 Food and Nutrition Conference and Expo in Atlanta, GA was a huge success. It was filled with amazing speakers, thought-provoking presentations, and wonderful networking events. I learned so much during these four amazing days in beautiful Atlanta. This conference was a place of endless opportunity for learning. It was a very rewarding experience and I am thankful for this opportunity from NEPDPG. I look forward to sharing my knowledge with my colleagues and future clients. I will definitely encourage my fellow students and health professionals to affiliate with this amazing DPG.