Did you know that all of May was Asian American and Pacific Islander month (AAPI)? We featured Karen earlier in the month and now have the joy of featuring Rosie. If you are interested in learning more, read here for the history of AAPI: https://www.asianpacificheritage.gov/about/ and read here for information on how to get involved with the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetic’s Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) Member Interest Group (MIG) https://www.aapimig.org/home. Also look out for an exciting talk about the “The Gut-Brain Connection” on Wednesday, June 09, 2021 by Erin Kenney, MS, RD, HCP.
DEI Spotlight: Rosalinda Sar
“Take a look around you,” stated the dietetic internship director. Amidst the eighty students, there were only five to six other students who identified as BIPOC.
I felt strange.
I didn’t know why.
I did know one thing.
This came to mind: “I will never have the financial funds to apply to a dietetic internship, let alone pursue one.”
Reality hit me like a brick.
The dietetics and nutrition field constantly strived to include diversity, equity, and inclusion. The nutrition class; however, clearly portrayed the underrepresentation which still existed in the academic and professional field.
I understood I had the privilege to attend a four-year college, graduate with a bachelor’s degree, and obtain a job. But, I knew applying for the DI was not an option for me after graduation. My parents nor I had the financial means to put myself through an accredited program for another year.
So I spent the next two years working three different jobs; at one point I worked all three jobs as a diet technician at Encompass Health Rehabilitation Hospital of Braintree, a sales associate at Calvin Klein, and a WIC nutritionist at Westbay Community Action. I savored every opportunity to save for the dietetic internship program whether it meant I was going to be accepted or not.
With the DICAS application deadline and Cambodian New Year approaching around the corner, I began to look to my parents to reassure myself I was on the right career path. My parents did not lead a normal life as most people did. There was no house with a picket white fence, a garage, and a dog and a cat. My mother and father emigrated from a country that was consumed by trauma. The mass genocide ravaged the nation, resulting in the deaths of millions. The survivors were left crippled in refugee camps, working for low wages and living in poor conditions. The lucky ones like my parents sought refuge in the United States taking every opportunity to live above hunger, poverty, and starvation.
It was this: bridging the gap between food insecurity, health disparities, and health inequities that pushed me to become a registered dietitian nutritionist. I longed to provide culturally competent health services for individuals like my mother and father. During my position as a WIC nutritionist, I realized I wanted to pursue the dietetic internship in order to provide misrepresented and underrepresented populations with the health services they needed despite their age, race, cultural preferences, or household conditions.
This weekend, as my mother prepared a Cambodian hot pot meal for my sister’s birthday, I reminisced about the series of unfortunate events that have unraveled since last March. The COVID-19 virus, the Black Lives Matter movement, and the Asian Hate protests. Although systemic racism has always existed in the world, it’s these real-life stories that helped instill a level of compassion in me.
My most recent acceptance into Tulane University’s Dietetic Internship Program will not only prepare me to become a culturally competent public health professional, but also an individual who will consistently strive for equality in human rights.
Rosalinda Sar is currently working as WIC nutritionist at a faith-based community center, Scalabrini Dukcevich Center, in Providence, Rhode Island. She is a recent graduate of the University of Massachusetts Amherst with a major in Nutrition. This August Rosie plans to attend Tulane University in Louisiana to complete the 10-month community-based dietetic internship program in hopes of obtaining her credentials as a licensed dietitian nutritionist. She strives to provide culturally competent health services to individuals despite their age, race, cultural preferences, or household conditions. It is her vision to increase diversity in a white-bread field so these individuals can face these health disparities and health inequities head on.
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