"The first step to increase the diversity in our profession is to give ourselves the opportunity to get to know others who are different from us."
By Su-Nui Escobar, DCN, RDN, FAND
I am a first-generation Latina dietitian, and my ethnicity has provided me with extraordinary opportunities. My culture and my ability to speak Spanish have been key factors in my ability to grow professionally in directions I love. I became a doctor in clinical nutrition, a fellow of the Academy and received heart-warming awards such as the greater tri-county dietitian of the year award from my peers at the South Florida Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
In terms of struggles, I have faced some of the same issues many others in my culture have faced. I only have my sister living near me; thus childcare can be difficult, especially if there is an unexpected change in my schedule. Financial struggles are frequent in my culture, as there is often less family support available. If my parents lived here, since they are both professionals, they could have helped me more financially during my undergraduate program and my internship. This is why I believe it is important to provide minority students and interns with more scholarship opportunities.
It was also lucky that I decided to take a year off and work with a cruise line in between completing my bachelor’s and starting my master’s degree. Otherwise, I believe I would not have had enough previous work experience to qualify for my internship since I was only able to work on campus during my undergraduate degree.
There are many individuals with the extraordinary potential to be a great RDN, but who may not have all of the qualifications to be competitive in the internship application process, which may partly be due to an inability to work off campus during their undergraduate studies. It is also very likely that many individuals do not apply to an internship because paying thousands of dollars in tuition, in addition to working an unpaid internship, is simply not feasible for some individuals.
As a mother of a half-Black, half-Latino 4-year-old, I feel that he stands out and raising him represents unique challenges. But I am up for such challenges and I hope his uniqueness might help him as much as my own uniqueness has helped me. The first step to increase the diversity in our profession is to give ourselves the opportunity to get to know others who are different from us.
This content was originally published in Food & Nutrition Magazine®.
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