Hello to Jeena Endter, our latest addition to the Discover FSHN Series! Jeena is a Master of Science-Dietetic Internship (MS-DI) program student at the Food Science and Human Nutrition Department at the University of Florida, and she has kindly taken time out of her busy schedule to tell us about her experiences as an FSHN graduate student. Read on to learn about her choice to study at UF, her full-circle moment as a teaching assistant, and what she believes everyone should know about dietetics.
Would you share how you chose the MS-DI program at UF?
The UF MS-DI program was always a dream for me. I was so excited to be accepted as a transfer student during my undergraduate years, and then starting my graduate academic career at UF was surreal to me. I love being a gator, so I imagine being a double gator must be twice as much fun! One reason I chose this program is that I knew it would challenge me academically. The program’s emphasis on nutrition education would provide the necessary tools and knowledge to set me up for success in the dietetics field.
Additionally, I want to mention two FSHN department members who influenced my decision to apply to this program: Dr. Beth Gankofskie and Ms. Kohrine Counts Hazim. Even though everyone in the FSHN department is incredibly supportive and inspiring, Dr. Gankofskie and Kohrine have been instrumental in my success as a student and future dietitian because they helped me believe in myself as an undergraduate student and now in my graduate studies.
What kind of work do you do as a teaching assistant (TA)?
Food Systems Management is a senior-level dietetics course that focuses on the principles of food production, service, sanitation, and safety in various kitchen settings. Community Nutrition is a junior-level dietetics course that discusses the development of potential health programs to increase nutrition-related services in a community. Students taking Community Nutrition learn the process of drafting grant proposals, create their own nutrition education project to support community health, and visit the local community garden and food bank.
My roles as a TA included creating quizzes, managing student profiles on Canvas, answering student emails, and assisting Dr. Gankofskie with grading assignments, exams, and projects such as their 7-Day Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner Menu capstone senior project.
How was the Food & Nutrition Conference & Expo (FNCE) this year?
FNCE was held in Orlando, so my cohort and I traveled together to the conference. The trip was a ton of fun because we experienced the conference together and then explored the city afterward. The conference was held for a total of four days, and there were multiple seminars to pick from each day. It was nice to go as a group so we could discuss the different sessions we attended.
My favorite seminars included topics discussing the link between brain and gut health, the prevalence of eating disorders among athletes, and the importance of communication with policymakers to advocate for the profession of dietetics. Overall, it was a wonderful experience, and we were so thankful to Dr. Sue Percival and Dean Elaine Turner for making this opportunity possible.
What do you want to do after graduation?
I realized I wanted to become a dietitian during my sophomore year of college. Since then, I have wanted to work with individuals who have eating disorders. I’ve always been interested in the connection between nutrition and mental health, specifically how diet can really impact someone’s behavior and mood. I am thrilled to be interning for a dietitian specializing in eating disorders this summer!
Additionally, I’m excited about exploring new career options – the opportunities for dietitians are becoming endless as the field continues to grow.
What do you believe is the most important fact the public should know about dietetics?
Many individuals have their own opinion of what the “perfect’ diet should be. Yet there is no one-size-fits-all approach to being healthy. Honestly, it can all feel a bit overwhelming! Therefore, one of the most important actions we can take as a consumer is to use our voices to amplify the dietetics profession and advocate for our own personal nutrition journey in a field that is constantly evolving and changing.
What do you like to do in your free time?
Anyone who knows me knows that I am a huge dog-lover. My boyfriend, Zach, and I have two dogs: Billi-Jean and Marshall. We love to find pet-friendly hiking trails around Gainesville and are regulars at all the nearby dog parks.
Of course, I love all things food-related: trying new restaurants, cooking, and baking! I also consider myself an ice cream connoisseur. Besides that, I have long been a fan of weightlifting but have recently incorporated yoga and running into my exercise routine.
What is the most unusual food you’ve tried, and how did you encounter it?
Sadly, I have an underwhelming answer. I wish I could say I tried chocolate-covered grasshoppers or mealworms during a study abroad trip, but I was not the true foodie growing up that I am now.
Still, I’ve mistaken dog treats for human treats, and unexpectedly, they weren’t that bad. I have also tried cotton candy grapes, which were surprisingly a bit sour at first. But then the cotton candy flavor takes over, and the taste is the perfect combination of sour and sweet.
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 (click on arrows to expand):
Shannon Mai, Dietetics
Alex Colon, Dietetics and Jenny Duong, Food Science
Jackie Shannon, Nutritional Sciences
Jennifer Jordan, Food Science
Lily Tucciarone, Dietetics
Tim Cassella, Nutritional Sciences
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.)
Melissa Perez Santana, Food Science (M.S.)
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
Dr. Beth Gankofskie, Dietetics
Dr. Anne Mathews, Nutritional Sciences
Dr. Diana Taft, Nutritional Sciences
Dr. Boce Zhang, Food Science/Food Microbiology
Dr. Cora Best, Nutritional Sciences
Dr. Katherine Thompson-Witrick, Food Science
Dr. Rebecca Gould, Dietetics, Postdoctoral Research
Dr. Becca Solch, Nutritional Sciences, Postdoctoral Research
Hannah Cooper, Dietetics, Private Practice
Dr. Richie Li, Food Science, Product Development
Doctor Brian Barrow, Nutritional Sciences, Medicine/Physician
Luciano Junoy, Food Science, Product Development