During this difficult time, we in the Food Science and Human Nutrition Department are committed to supporting our exceptional students, faculty, and staff. We wish to share with you the story of an outstanding FSHN student as a reminder of some of the most important aspects of life: kindness, friendship, and family.
Alexa Hosey is a first year Master of Science-Dietetic Internship student from Port Orange, Florida. During this period of transition, she took time out of her busy schedule to share the story of how she chose the University of Florida, her tips for making the most of online learning, and her love of reading and writing. Thank you, Alexa!
Would you share how you chose the MS/DI program at UF?
I’m a bit of a non-traditional student. I have two Bachelor of Science degrees. My first is in Exercise Physiology from Murray State University in KY (Go Racers!) and the second in Dietetics (online) through the University of Northern Colorado. (Fun fact: I’ve never been to the state of Colorado but have a degree from there!)
As for choosing UF, I’m a proud Floridian and very much wanted to stay in the state of Florida to be close to my family and start my career here. I was born in Orlando and raised in Port Orange (a small town close to Daytona Beach).
My mentor, Dr. Beth Gankofskie, was the first person to bring UF’s program to my attention. Dr. G has been beyond generous with her advice and guidance throughout my education. At Murray State University, I was close friends with her son, who introduced us due to my interest in becoming a registered dietitian. Even though I was not her student at the time, she was kind enough to help answer my questions about which DPD program I should apply to, job experiences I should pursue to gain experience in the field, and even reviewed my resume and DICAS application. For 5+ years, she has been instrumental to my success as a student and future as a dietitian.
Initially, I was seeking to do a distance program so I could stay in my hometown and complete the dietetic internship (DI) at my own pace. After speaking with Dr. G and Dr. Jeanette Andrade about the program here at UF, I was convinced to consider the MS-DI program, and it is a decision I am extremely grateful to have made.
What is it like being a TA for Dr. Gankofskie? What kind of work do you do?
Having known Dr. G for many years, it’s a privilege to be the TA in her Community Nutrition course. There are two TA’s for this course (me and another MS-DI classmate). I am responsible for the coursework (quizzes, assignments, field trips, etc.) whereas my classmate is responsible for the garden project they will be working on this semester with Dr. Saba. I am enjoying my experience thus far, and I believe it allows me to gain professional experience and better prepare me for the workplace in the future.
It’s been such a tremendously difficult time for you and your fellow students with the abrupt transition to online learning. How has it been going for you?
It’s been exactly that. A transition.
With any change, it can be difficult at first, but we learn to adapt and overcome while also becoming stronger in the process. I believe this is hitting all of us in different ways so it’s difficult to say that my stress during this time is the same as someone else’s. I strive to maintain a routine throughout my day with classes, meetings, and work obligations. It gives me expectations and structure for the day.
The most challenging aspect is having some of the experiences and projects that we usually do in-person in a virtual setting. Having a presentation via Zoom is vastly different than in front of a live audience, but we are making it work. I miss having face-to-face interactions with my professors and peers but understand that this is an unprecedented time, and we must take the precautions necessary to keep everyone safe.
I am thankful that we are able to continue with our classes and to work online with our technological resources. I commend our professors and administrators for working diligently through this time to transition to the virtual world of educational technology and continue to make our learning experience as students impactful to best prepare us for our future careers.
Would you share your top tips for making the most of your online learning experience?
It’s key to communicate and communicate early. Many online platforms including Canvas and even Outlook are working on overload right now. Normally, if I were to have a question about something, I would have the option to either go to my professors’ offices or email them. Now that we are solely online, there is less opportunity for us to have communication with our professors outside of class time. I believe it’s paramount to communicate what is expected and what might be different through this transition to online learning. Our professors have been more than willing to help us during this time. We are all learning together how to finish out the semester in this virtual setting.
Also, I would say expressing kindness and compassion goes a long way. As a TA, I am nowhere close to being perfect, but I do my best to serve the students and give them the best learning experience possible. Canvas is an ongoing learning experience for me. I am still understanding how to adjust certain settings so the students are able to see grades and comments that I may already have access to, etc. When a student is patient and communicates with grace, it really makes a difference for me when I’m working.
We are all human. Now more than ever, we should be realizing this and acting accordingly. None of us have experienced this type of pandemic before, so we must band together and build each other up to get through this in the best way possible.
What do you want to do after graduation?
After graduation, I would like to work as a clinical dietitian specializing in maternal and infant nutrition. Also, I am interested in possibly becoming a lactation specialist/consultant. I previously worked at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital in St. Petersburg, FL and absolutely loved it. I have a lot of work experience in pediatrics and working with children with special needs, learning disabilities, and autism. Ideally, I would work in a children’s hospital and eventually transition into private practice.
What do you like to do in your free time?
- I am very passionate about fitness. I love to work out and weight-lift.
- I played Division I soccer at the University of South Florida (USF) (2 years) and Murray State University. I have had three knee surgeries and require another surgery in the near future, but I don’t let that prevent me from continuing to be active.
- I read a lot of books. Reading has been a safe haven for me ever since I can remember. I love having a book in my hand, getting lost in the plot. It’s a mental escape and way of relaxing for me.
- I also enjoy cooking or trying out new coffee/tea shops.
Tell me a fun fact or two about yourself that no one (or very few people!) know.
I am a big reader. I love books. Ever since I learned to read, I have had a book in my hand. Very few people know that I have a goal of writing my own novel. Writing is therapeutic for me and as an introvert, it’s one of the best ways for me to express my thoughts by getting them down on paper. I have started to write the novel, but I am not sure of when it’ll be completed. To be continued!
Is there anything else you’d like to share about the recent changes going on in your life and in the world?
My heart goes out to those who are dealing with the repercussions of this virus. I would say that it’s important to get outside once a day (if possible) just to get some fresh air, move your legs, and get some physical activity. What has had the greatest positive impact on me is the ability to stay active even though the gyms are all closed.
Also, be kind to one another. Be a kind human. That goes a long way. We are all stressed, and everyone in the world is taken aback by these circumstances. Together we can get through this!
Want to know more about becoming a registered dietitian and how to pursue a graduate degree in dietetics? Learn more here!
P.S. Want to read more about the amazing work going on in the FSHN department? See our previous student and faculty profiles below:
Shannon Mai, Dietetics
Jenny Duong, Food Science and Alex Colon, Dietetics
Savanna Curtis, Food Science
Carley Rusch and Matthew Beke, Nutritional Sciences