Hello to Amber Fritsche, a first year Master of Science-Dietetic Internship (MS/DI) student who graduated from the Food Science and Human Nutrition Department’s Didactic Program in Dietetics last year! Amber grew up in Lake Worth, Florida and is a teaching assistant for Dr. Beth Gankofskie. Learn about how her travel experiences have shaped her academic career, her dedication to mentoring undergraduate students, and why potatoes are an inspiration!
Would you share how you chose the MS/DI program at UF?
I chose the MS/DI program at UF to push myself out of my comfort zone. Although I lived in Gainesville during my time as an undergraduate and developed a love for this city and school, the program itself sounded challenging to me. I felt that classes such as Research Planning and Advanced Statistics would force me to grow in an area that I usually shy away from.
Additionally, I wished to continue my formal education before beginning my dietetic internship. I knew that this program would help me develop both academically and professionally, and it has a faculty that is incredibly supportive and inspiring.
Will you tell me about your travel experiences and how they have influenced your view of nutrition and dietetics?
I never did a formal study abroad program, but I did participate in two incredible international trips–one in Guatemala and one in Israel. In the spring semester of 2018, I traveled with forty other UF students to Parramos, Guatemala to install water filters for the local residents. Seeing the lack of access to clean water and food showed me how much I take these for granted on a daily basis. I love science, food, human nutrition, and all the ways these topics can improve people’s health, but this trip opened my eyes to the reality that many people don’t have the privilege to consider these things. Unfortunately, food insecurity also occurs in my own city and community. When I am a dietitian, I aim to be mindful of the barriers to health that many of my patients face, and I will work to reduce hunger and undernutrition.
You’re a mentor for undergraduate senior dietetics students! What is that like, and how has COVID-19 influenced these mentorships?
The MS/DI program has coordinated with the DPD program to set up a mentorship opportunity that is helpful for everyone involved. When I was a senior, my mentors were an immense blessing and even one of the reasons I applied to UF’s program! Now, I mentor four wonderful seniors who are in the midst of applying to their own internships. We all meet virtually once a month to discuss any questions or concerns, as well as to catch up. Due to COVID-19, we no longer meet in person, but the virtual format has been a great option due to everyone’s busy schedules.
What do you want to do after graduation?
After graduation, I would like to get my first full-time job and move to a different state! I grew up in South Florida and will have lived in Gainesville for six years by the time I graduate, so I would love to experience new scenery and a true winter, even if it is just for a year or two. I can see myself working as a clinical dietitian in the short term while I find my long-term niche and possibly build my own counseling business. As of now, I have no set plans, and I’m excited for the opportunities that will come!
What do you like to do in your free time?
Above all, I enjoy spending time with my friends and family in a variety of settings. But in general, I feel happiest when I’m outside. This could be a simple walk, a spontaneous road trip, or even camping! Especially with COVID-19 and being indoors for the majority of my time, I seize any chance to get outside and enjoy nature.
If you were a food, what food would you be, and why?
I would be a potato! The story goes that “potato” was my first word, and they have been one of my favorite foods for as long as I can remember. Potatoes are so versatile, and that is a trait I strive to have.
What is something you’re most proud of?
I am extremely thankful for the beautiful chaos of my undergraduate years at UF while I was searching for the career path meant for me. I was in a total of five different majors and did not switch into dietetics until the week before my senior year began! Although my path is untraditional, the experiences I gained from taking classes in multiple majors, feeling lost at times, and making tough decisions shaped me into who I am today. I have a great appreciation for the array of experiences I gained from each major, and now I’m even more grateful to have found a career path that I love.
Note: Some images in this post were taken prior to national guidelines of face coverings and social distancing.
P.S. The Discover FSHN Series highlights the unique experiences of UF’s Food Science and Human Nutrition students, faculty, staff, and alumni. Want to read more about the amazing work going on in the FSHN department? See our previous features below:
Savanna Curtis, Food Science (M.S.)
Carley Rusch and Matthew Beke, Nutritional Sciences (Ph.D.)
Alexa Hosey, Dietetics (MS/DI)
Vicnie Leandre, Food Science (M.S.)
Rufus Theophilus, Nutritional Sciences (Ph.D.)
Dr. Naim Montazeri, Food Science/Food Virology
Dr. Jeanette Andrade, Dietetics
Dr. Zhiyong Cheng, Nutritional Sciences
Dr. Juan Andrade Laborde, Global Nutrition
Dr. Razieh Farzad, Food Science