Nutrition Senior Paige Pfaff

Throughout the month of March we will be highlighting current students from our DPD program. 

This week we feature senior Paige Pfaff.

paige pfaff headshotWhy did you choose Nutrition at the University of Minnesota?

I first became interested in nutrition when I was studying journalism at the University of Iowa. I read a lot about the health disparities in our country at that time and noticed that a lot of them were nutrition-related. I could see myself working in this career and knew that I wanted to pursue it. I started researching nutrition programs in my home state of Minnesota and was drawn to the University of Minnesota’s program because they were so quick to answer my questions and were very knowledgeable. They were also very upfront about the steps that it would require to become a dietitian and I appreciated this honesty. I am so happy with my decision to start the program, and I have enjoyed the courses, learning from knowledgeable professors and feel that the program prepared me for my next steps.

What are your career goals after graduation?

I was thrilled to get a spot in the University of Minnesota’s Dietetic Internship for 2019-2020 so I am looking forward to starting this internship in the Fall. I am excited to learn more about Medical Nutrition Therapy and anticipate introductions to areas in the nutrition field that I have yet to explore. Upon completion of this internship I hope to pass the RD examination and start my career as a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist. I can see myself working in a hospital or clinic, and maybe even starting my own practice at some point. My major goal, broad as it may be, is to help as many people as I can throughout my career.

Do you do any Nutrition-related work or volunteer activities outside the classroom?

I have been a volunteer order taker for Help at your Door for about 5 years. This organization is dedicated to helping senior citizens maintain their independence for as long as possible. Each week, volunteers call our assigned clients and take their grocery orders. This experience has taught me a lot about the food preferences of a senior citizens, and I have learned about the struggle my clients face when trying to eat what they are “supposed to” and what they really want to eat. As future nutrition professionals, it’s very helpful to gain experience putting ourselves in the shoes of others and volunteering for this organization has been a great way for me to get an introduction to this.

Favorite healthy snack?

Smoothies! It doesn't matter how cold it is outside, a smoothie always sounds good to me. They are refreshing, easy to digest, and packed full of vitamins and fiber. I like to experiment with different combinations, especially with seasonal ingredients.  My favorite smoothie is made of frozen banana, kale, yogurt, a splash of apple juice, ice and a squeeze of lemon juice.

Funniest question asked by people when they learn you’re a Nutrition major?

I get a lot of questions along the lines of: “Is (insert any food) good for you?” or “What do you think of (insert trendy nutrition topic)?” but for me, the most amusing question that I get on a regular basis is when people ask if I can write down what they should eat. They say something like: “Can you make me a quick meal plan? I really want to bulk up.” As any nutrition student knows, coming up with a meal plan for someone requires a lot of information about that person including their daily habits, food preferences, what has been standing in the way of their health goals, etc. I think that it is humorous that people think it’s something that a nutrition student can crank out instantly.  

What piece of advice do you have for future Nutrition students?

I am a learn-by-doing type of person, so I would encourage future nutrition students to take advantage of as many opportunities, both in and outside of the classroom, that they can get to explore this field before they graduate. One of the great things about the nutrition major is that there are many directions one can go with this degree. I would also encourage students that are interested in dietetics to start researching the dietetic internships sooner rather than later. I started researching early and I am glad that I did. The matching process is specific, and its important to know which programs match your interests prior to applying.