We’re so pleased to introduce Tim Cassella to the Discover FSHN Series, a first-year student in the Food Science and Human Nutrition Department at the University of Florida! Tim is a Nutritional Sciences major and pre-professional student from Valrico, FL, and he plans to join UF’s dental school. Learn about his path from engineering to nutrition and his passion for helping people through his chosen career!
You’re a pre-professional student interested in UF’s BS/DMD program. What was your inspiration for pursuing dental school?
My inspiration behind pursuing dental school began during Thanksgiving dinner a few years ago. At first, I did not think I would go down the pre-health path at all. My whole life, I was set on engineering. I planned on following my brother’s, father’s, and grandfather’s footsteps. Or so I thought.
During my senior year of high school, my family came home for Thanksgiving, and everyone was catching up. During these conversations, I noticed that many family members who are engineers did not have good things to say about their jobs. This made me wonder if I would eventually feel this way towards my career. Was engineering truly what I wanted to do?
I decided I wanted to do something different than engineering. After talking with my sister, I thought of dentistry. I have always loved going to the dentist, and while growing up, I really looked up to my dentist. At UF, I entered the pre-dental track and began shadowing dentists in my area.
After seeing the smiles and gratitude patients have after leaving the dentist’s office, I realized this is the path for me. The fact that people can come in and have their self-esteem and confidence revitalized was enough for me to see that I truly enjoyed helping these people. I hope to one day make an impact on many people’s lives.
You originally majored in Biology and switched to Nutritional Sciences. Why did you switch and how did the process go?
I switched from Biology to Nutritional Sciences because I am very interested in learning how the fuel we put into our bodies affects our everyday lives. It amazes me how something as simple as the food we eat can impact one’s quality of life. Incorporating a proper diet into one’s lifestyle benefits overall health while helping prevent chronic diseases. I believe knowledge about nutritious food is the most powerful way to promote healthy living, and I cannot wait to learn everything that the FSHN Nutritional Sciences program has in store!
What do you want to do after graduation?
After graduation, I plan to attend dental school. I hope to be a part of the University of Florida College of Dentistry class of 2027. I thoroughly enjoy general dentistry, but I also have a lot of interest in orthodontics.
Tell me how your nutritional sciences background will support your academic and career goals.
I hope my nutritional sciences background will support my future career by informing how I approach health issues, including oral health diseases. Just like in dentistry, the nutrition field offers ways to prevent the onset of health complications and allows for identifying and mitigating chronic disease development. Furthermore, combining a nutritious diet with healthy habits and hygiene is a key part of giving our bodies the best life we can.
What do you like to do in your free time?
I love exploring the outdoors and spending time with family in my free time. Also, I am very into working out and watching movies, and I have recently got into surfing.
Anything else you’d like to add?
I was born and raised in Florida and am a Floridian at heart. I have two older siblings who have attended UF, me being the youngest of the three. Most of my family is from upstate New York, and my mom is a refugee from Vietnam. I have no history of dentists in my family, so I hope to start something new in my family’s future generations.
Note: Some images in this post were taken prior to national guidelines of face coverings and social distancing.
Interested in learning more about FSHN’s Nutritional Sciences programs? Read more here and here and here!
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.)
Amber Fritsche, Dietetics (MS/DI)
Amy Jones, Food Science (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
Rebecca Gould, Dietetics, Postdoctoral Research
Becca Solch, Nutritional Sciences, Postdoctoral Research
Hannah Cooper, Dietetics, Private Practice
Richie Li, Food Science, Product Development