Nutritional Sciences student excited to explore dietetic options after graduation
Contrary to popular belief, not everyone in Columbus dislikes the University of Michigan.
Just ask Allison Meyer, a native of the Buckeye State capital, who is graduating in April 2023 with a Master of Science in Nutritional Sciences.
“Growing up in Columbus made enrolling at Michigan almost unfathomable,” Meyer said. “My older sister paved the way for me to be a Wolverine by taking the brunt of teasing from family and friends. From visiting her on campus, I fell in love with Michigan.”
The university’s school spirit and the small, tight-knit community that the City of Ann Arbor is known for—despite the size of the university—initially attracted her. Beyond that, there were endless opportunities to explore.
“As someone who went into college thinking I would pursue elementary education, I am grateful that I enrolled in a school where I could change my mind and still receive high-caliber education in almost any field,” said Meyer, who completed her undergraduate degree at Michigan Public Health, receiving a Bachelor of Arts in Community and Global Public Health in 2021.
While volunteering to teach young kids about nutrition in an extracurricular class, Meyer saw how social determinants of health are crucial to providing realistic and applicable content. This realization prompted her to take the introductory public health course Public Health 200 and eventually pivot to a whole new major and career goal in dietetics.
Meyer also has a personal interest in nutrition.
“I was diagnosed with celiac disease when I was 3 years old, so from a very young age I have had to think about what I put in my body to keep my immune system under control,” she said. “I know how hard it can be to have to worry about whether you will get sick from the food you eat and the mental impact this can have. From this personal attachment to nutrition, I realized that I could be a resource to others regarding their nutrition.”
Through my studies, I have found that understanding such determinants is crucial in pursuing my career as a registered dietitian. I look forward to using my lens and background in public health to better target interventions to improve the health of my future patients.”
Throughout her time as a student, she has gained interests in many areas of nutrition, including maternal and child health nutrition as well as pediatric nutrition.
“During my master’s program, I was able to help co-create a new research cohort to explore the influence of gestational weight gain expectations on disordered eating during pregnancy,” said Meyer, who was selected to receive the Michigan Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (MiAND) Outstanding Dietetics Student for a Didactic Program Award for 2023. “Throughout this research experience as well as all the courses I have taken within nutritional science, I have grown immensely as a student and as an individual.”
Also, when traveling at a young age, she witnessed how different cultures, communities and environments shaped people's everyday lives, sparking an interest in learning about how a person’s environment can impact a person’s health.
“I wanted to explore these social determinants of health and learn how to apply that knowledge to the field of nutrition,” Meyer said. “Through my studies, I have found that understanding such determinants is crucial in pursuing my career as a registered dietitian. I look forward to using my lens and background in public health to better target interventions to improve the health of my future patients.”
The most interesting part of public health to her is that within the field “we learn how to consider every aspect of people’s lives that contributes to their health,” she said.
“I love that within public health I have learned how to understand people's backgrounds, environments and cultures and apply that knowledge to almost any career setting. I think this aspect of public health is so important and should be included in all areas of education as it makes you think more critically about why and how public health efforts are created.”
Specifically during graduate school, she was drawn toward examining nutrition through a public health lens.
“I love that by receiving my master’s degree through Michigan Public Health I can take all the public health knowledge I had learned from my undergraduate studies to the field of nutrition,” Meyer said. “Every time I think about my education here at Michigan, I am reminded and thankful for all the valuable information I have learned, setting me up to succeed in a healthcare setting.”
Even though she is set to graduate, there were some challenges she had to overcome to get to this point.
“Maintaining motivation to continue higher education and continue in my studies has sometimes been overwhelming,” Meyer said. “There were moments where I felt like giving up, especially when assignments were overlapping and work was getting tiring. Looking back at those moments, I am so glad that I persisted.
“I am thankful for my friends and family who have supported me. As much as you think you are alone in these types of thoughts, there are so many people and resources available to help you get to the finish line, especially here at Michigan.”
Although she didn’t end up pursuing an undergraduate degree in education, Meyer still explored her interest in teaching as a graduate student instructor in the College of Literature, Sciences, and the Arts Program in Biology, where she taught the past two semesters.
“I have enjoyed learning how to be a better educator and getting to know all my students,” Meyer said. “This job allowed me to use the knowledge I have learned while earning my degrees.”
She also was a personal trainer for most of her time as a graduate student.
“It was a very fun and rewarding experience as well,” said Meyer, who enjoys singing and cooking during her downtime and recently picked up the sport of pickleball. “I met a lot of people, even outside of the college community, and it was so fulfilling to help my clients work toward their physical fitness goals and gain confidence.”
She will start a dietetic internship this fall in the pediatric concentration at the Children’s Hospital Colorado in the Greater Denver area.
“I am really excited for this next and last step in becoming a dietitian,” Meyer said. “I am beyond excited to be working and learning more about pediatric nutrition and gaining experience working with a pregnant population. I am not 100% sure what specific field of dietetics I will practice in once I become a registered dietitian, but I am excited to explore my options during my internship.
“Thanks to my four years of being in the School of Public Health here at Michigan, both in my undergraduate and graduate studies, I am prepared to be a dietitian that considers every patient’s background, community and culture and how that influences their nutrition to provide each patient with the best care possible.”