It was the summer of Jesse Pace’s sophomore year when she met a child with cystic fibrosis that would leave a huge impact on her.
“I learned more about the disease and how nutrition played such a role in his life,” says Pace. “By the end of the summer, I was hooked. I knew that I wanted to work with pediatric cystic fibrosis patients.”
After earning her bachelor’s degree in Food Science, Nutrition and Health Promotion with a concentration in Food and Nutrition at Mississippi State University, Pace enrolled in the Dietetics Internship at UAB.
“As a student at UAB, I could experience the atmosphere of a teaching hospital that offers a variety of dietetic challenges,” says Pace.
She also saw the opportunity to learn in a vast field of dietetics from medical nutrition therapy at UAB Hospital, culinary arts education at the local high school, public health with the health department, as well as pediatric nutrition at Children’s of Alabama.
“I learn the ins and outs of each area, and how to practice in the area,” says Pace. “Each week or two is a new rotation and new experiences. It is a fast paced internship with change each week, but I have enjoyed learning from wonderful preceptors and professors.”
Pace is making a name for herself serving as a member of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics House of Delegates and Student Advisory Committee. She is the Student-at-Large delegate and represents every student member of the Academy. She also serves as a member of the Student Advisory Committee, a group of eight students from around the country who work to represent student interests in the Academy and serve as liaisons.
“It has opened so many doors and allowed me to learn so much about the field of dietetics,” says Pace. “I wanted to not only serve the student members of the Academy, but also because I wanted the opportunity to learn about the field of dietetics from the front line. As a delegate, I am able to contribute to decisions that will affect the Academy now and in the future.”
Pace graduates from the Dietetic Internship in June 2013 and will earn a graduate degree in May 2014. She hopes to be a clinical dietitian possibly working with pediatric patients.
“I chose nutrition because I wanted to help people, and food is important in everyone's lives especially in the South,” says Pace. “What better way to help people than by helping them with something they do every day, eat.”