The community focus of Keene State’s Dietetic Internship drew Laura Salinas from Austin, Texas, where she grew up and attended the University of Texas, graduating with a bachelor’s degree in nutritional science and dietetics. “I really liked the idea of community nutrition,” she says, “and I appreciated the fact that at Keene State you have the opportunity to work with all different age groups and to do a lot of nutritional education.
Salinas, who returned to Texas to do the clinical portion of her rotations at a San Antonio hospital, also appreciated the ability to experience New England food culture and compare it to Texas. The big thing in the Lone Star State is Mexican food, she notes. In New Hampshire, she says, “there was a really strong awareness for health foods and farmers markets, and it seems like all the community participates in that.”
Among her favorite rotations in the Dietetic Internship: WestMass Elder Care, where she was able to experience a large-scale nutrition program; Phoenix House, a drug and alcohol rehabilitation center where she appreciated the ability to build rapport with the clients; cooking classes for adults in Springfield, VT, and for teenagers at the Bellows Falls, VT, Boys and Girls Club; and teaching third graders at Kirn Hattin school in Westminster, VT, about fruits, vegetables, and sustainability.
Salinas thinks her first job will probably be in a clinical setting, but her goal is to work as a health coach in a wellness setting. She’s very pleased with the education and experiences she’s had through the Keene State Dietetics Internship.
“This internship is very self-paced and self-directed, which for me was excellent,” she says. “I fine-tuned my time-management skills and learned how to schedule things and monitor the time I was going to be giving to different projects. It really gave me a well-rounded idea of how many different opportunities there are for dietitians in the community, which is going to help me throughout my career. For future dietitians: we’re on a career path where you do have to advocate for yourself and find ways to work in the community and promote health and nutrition the best way you can.”