it’s been a long day

It’s been four months since my last post. I never intended for there to be that big of a break between all of these, mostly since the “successful” blog posters post about once a week but, I’m not superhuman. When I posted last, I was in the middle of one of my management rotations. While my whole fall semester can be lumped together as a “management” rotation, I did more than just work in a kitchen. During the fall, I was privileged to work at a top school system, the health department with the WIC dietitian, and at the Mississippi Food Network. Aside from my main management rotation which took place at Mississippi State Hospital, I also spent four weeks at St. Dominic’s hospital with their food service staff. I eventually ended my semester at State Hospital in a rotation that is titled “Staff Relief” where you’re expected to complete the daily tasks of a worker or manager without someone holding your hand or constantly telling you what to do. So, now it may make more since why it took me so long to get back to writing about my experiences. Did I mention that along with all of those rotations, I conducted and turned in a 30 page research project, came up with a sustainable business plan, and planned and implemented a theme meal at State Hospital? It was quite the semester. Needless to say, by time I finished at the beginning of December, the last thing I wanted to do was open my laptop and type. So instead of succumbing to the peer pressure of updating my blog (looking at you Melissa Hughey), I took some time to relax, sleep, watch Netflix, travel, and eventually get settled back into Jackson. So now that I’m back, I figure now is the best time to pick up where I left off in October! So here is everything

After spending the first four weeks at Mississippi State Hospital, working with the food service department, I spent the follow week at the Hinds Country Health Department with the Women, Infant, and Children’s supplemental program or WIC. This was definitely one of the more challenging rotations. That’s not to say that I didn’t learn A TON from the dietitians that I was with during those four days. I was super excited for this rotation because of the counseling experience I knew I was going to be able to gain. It’s always fun to sit down with clients and figure out what they need and how you can help them. Plus, interning with a government agency made me feel like Leslie Knope!

HCHD

Heath Department located in the Jackson Medical Mall

 

After I left the health department and WIC, I spent two weeks at the Clinton School District working with their Director of Child Nutrition (an RD!) and their Director of Cafeteria Management. While the work was slow at times, I really enjoyed my time here and I loved the 8-5 workday feel. Although my heart lies with the clinical dietetics field, not having to work weekends or holidays sounds pretty good. I spent the majority of my time in Clinton reviewing the National School Lunch Program rules and regulations as well as the Healthy Hunger Free Kids Act. Very interesting reading material if you’re bored. Also interesting to see how much things have changed since between the time I was in Kindergarten through my senior year of high school. With all the rules, regulations, free and reduced lunch programs, grants, etc. it can make your head spin, but I applaud the Clinton School District Child Nutrition managers as well as the employees who work directly with the students and in the cafeterias for everything they do. They work hard to ensure that kids are fed two meals a day and they do a great job of ensuring that they are both healthy and delicious. If clinical doesn’t work out, I can see future for me in this type of setting!

clinton_schools

 

Moving on…after my two weeks in Clinton, I headed back into the heart of Jackson to begin four weeks of management at St.Dominic’s Hospital. This is the main facility where my roommate has been doing her rotations. Though unfortunately for us, the four weeks I was there, she was rotating through her health department and school rotations. My four weeks here were pretty uneventful. I did a lot of accounting and purchasing work. More computer, less kitchen. I did enjoy the change of scenery though, plus I got free lunch so that was pretty stellar. After this I headed back to State hospital for two more weeks of management. These two weeks were mostly spent organizing my theme meal and then filling in for the lack of kitchen employees. Now before you think this is like “me legit cooking like a chef” allow me to shatter that thought. These two weeks working in the kitchen consisted of me, sorting puddings into individualized cups or me wrapping up cornbread muffins for building deliveries. Not quite as glamorous as the 5 star kitchen I would’ve hoped for, but I learned a lot of discipline as well as gained a lot of respect from the other employees.

My two weeks in the kitchen were then rewarded by a week away at the Mississippi Food Network. This is the largest food bank in the state of Mississippi and they supply the majority of the food for almost all of the countries food pantries. I had a blast during this rotation. I was able to travel through a lot of the central part of the state with the dietitians inspecting and approved the various food pantries. I was able to education some of the elderly population on the Senior programs as well as see some kids who were participating in an after school snack program. The work that goes on at the Food Network is insane. The amount of food that goes in and out of their warehouse daily blows my mind. Not to mention the hard work that every single employee puts in to ensure everything is done to the highest of standards. My time at the Food network was definitely one of my favorites!

MFN

Now we’ve come full circle. The last two weeks of this semester were spent in a rotation called “staff relief”. This rotation was completed back at State Hospital and is meant to allow the intern to act as the head foodservice manager. Unfortunately, this did not happen. Instead, I was back to kitchen employee, which all in all, I couldn’t complain. I had so much fun with the employees there. They all worked so hard to include me and teach me and they had so much patients for me (I moved rather slow in the kitchen). I especially would have never survived my weeks at State Hospital with the retail manager Stephanie. From the first week she took me under her wing and treated me like we’d been friends for years. I probably learned the most about management and running a kitchen from her. My last day at State Hospital was spent being apart of the hospitals annual Christmas Parade. Never in a million years would I have believed that I would be riding on the back of a boat, dressed up at a reindeer, driving through a mental hospital, but here I was. It was a blast and the residents had the best time!

I couldn’t be more thankful for the people I encountered during this rotation. I went into not really sure how things would play out, especially since I never thought I would enjoy anything related to “management dietetics” but all in all I had a great semester. I grew as a professional, a grad student, and as a person. I even fooled a lot of people into thinking I had an extraverted personality. Extremely funny to me and anyone else who knows me personally. I wouldn’t trade those months and those experiences for anything different!

MSH

Never thought I’d miss driving through this place!

 

“In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ ” Acts 20:35

Internship Countdown: 13 weeks!

So, You Want To Be A Dietetic Intern

There are a few things you should know.

food

If you’re a freshman and you’ve just declared your major as nutrition…get ready. The next four years will be devoted to science classes, late night studying for medical nutrition therapy tests, and crying because it’s impossible to learn how to manage a foodservice operation out of a book.

If you’re a junior or senior in the major, you’re right in the middle of it all. Along with studying for the hardest classes you’ve ever taken, you’re also in the middle of applying for dietetic internships and graduate school programs. Believe me, I know how hard this is; I was in this same place only a year ago.

Last week, I had the opportunity to go back to my alma mater (Roll Tide!) and speak to one of the undergraduate nutrition classes about my experiences so far in my DI. I also spoke about the application process as well as how to make yourself stand out to different programs. This got me thinking that it might be a good idea to write a blog on all things dealing with applying and being accepted to a dietetic internship program.

So here goes…

10 Things that helped me earn the Internship!

  1. Love it or head for the hills. My biggest advice would be that if you make it to your sophomore/junior year as a nutrition major, and you don’t absolutely love the field of dietetics or can’t picture yourself working as some sort of dietitian (there are an enormous amount of different things RDs can do), get out while you can. If you don’t plan on working in the health care field in some sort of capacity, an undergraduate degree in nutrition is going to be pretty worthless. Remember, it’s never too late to change your major. If you start learning about the Krebs Cycle, management styles, or tube feeds and realize this is not what you thought it was, that’s okay. If you’re uncertain, do some research. Talk to other RDs about their experiences and what they do. Read blogs about RDs and try to picture yourself doing what they do. You should be passionate about your major and your future career, not dread it.
  1. Get involved. If you’re a freshman, join as many clubs as you can handle. It’s likely that you will never have as much free time as you do when you’re a freshman. Now is the time to get involved with what ever you can. It can be anything, though I suggest health related clubs to get you ready for the health field that you will enter one day. If your school has a student dietetic association, become a member! If they don’t, start one! If you’re a sophomore, junior, or even 1st semester senior, it’s never too late! Join whatever you can and get involved. Involvement shows to internships that you did more than sit in your room and study everyday. It shows that you’ve worked with other people and that your experiences are well rounded.
  1. Get a job. I strongly believe that having a job in undergrad made me more appealing to internship programs. For two years, I worked at a daycare as an assistant teacher. It was a simple, minimum wage job though not nutrition related (though I tried to make it be), but it was a job. It showed that for two years, I arrived on time, was responsible (you know the whole caring for children thing), and did something other than study and go to class. While I quit my job in the middle of my junior year due to my class schedule, others in my major continued to work. IT IS POSSIBLE. Even if it’s something little like babysitting or retail work, having that job experience can only boost your appearance to potential DI directors. Because in the end, a DI is basically the same thing as a job.
  1. Get experience. Another thing that I felt really made me stand out to my future internship director was my experience. As part of the University of Alabama’s nutrition undergraduate curriculum, we are required to complete a class that is all supervised practice. For 5 weeks during the summer between my junior and senior year, I was able to work with the dietitians at the University of South Alabama Medical Center in Mobile, Alabama. During this experience I talked to patients about their nutrition intake, calculated tube feeds (with extremely close supervision and guidance), and even practiced writing chart notes. I believe having this experience appealed to my internship director because I had already had a taste of not only the clinical dietetic field but also a taste of what the internship was like. If you’re not required to get experience for a grade, go out and do it yourself! See if you can shadow during your summer break or even during the school year. No matter the length, any experience is only going to make you look better.
  1. Get the grades, but don’t make them your life. When applying to internships, you have to have some specifics attributes. One of those attributes is grades. Most internships want you to have at least 3.0 GPA. If you’re applying to more elite or competitive internships, you’re going to want to have a 4.0. That being said, get the grades, but don’t make them your life. Some people are going to be naturally better at studying, learning, and test taking. There’s always going to be those students who make a 100 on everything. If that’s not you, DON’T WORRY. There are plenty of us out there who didn’t have a 4.0 and we still were able go on to be successful interns and RDs. All in all, STUDY! Do the absolute very best that you can, and if you do that, chances are you’ll wind up with the grades you want.
  1. Start early. If you know that you want to apply for a dietetic internship, begin the process as soon as you can. This means on top of everything listed above you will need to research the programs you’re interested in, take the necessary classes and tests that you need, and begin the application process as soon as you can. At Alabama, the nutrition department offers a class that’s sole purpose is to explain the DI application process and to teach you how to research the different programs that are out there. Taking this class was a HUGE help to me when it came time to actually begin the application process. Unfortunately, not every school offers this type of class. If your school does not, begin by talking one-on-one with your DPD director and then turn to online resources. The most popular resource that I’ve seen other undergrads use is All Access Internships.
  1. Research, research, research. Look up the programs you’re interested in and find out where they’re located, if they have distance options, and what the application requirements are. Look for things like stipends, length of the program, and if you have to be enrolled in the school’s graduate program. Most of this information and plenty more will be available on the programs website but if not, emailing the program director is always an option. This might even show that you’re interested. Also check out the Academy’s Website for more information.
  1. Visit. If the program offers an open house and you are able to attend it, go! Introduce yourself, show your face, and let them know you’re interested. Open houses let you see what their program is like and most of the time current interns will be available to talk with you and answer any questions you may have. If the program does not offer an open house, contact the director to see if setting up a visit is possible. Remember, the worst they can say is, “no”.
  1. Application/rank. Again, start early with the application. Register with the DICAS and matching websites. If the program requires you to apply to their grad school, go ahead and apply. If you need to take the GRE, take it early so if you need to take it again you have time to. Create an appealing resume and have multiple eyes check it for mistakes. Do the same thing with your personal statement. The more people who read it the better. Have your school send your transcripts as soon as the application opens (this can be complicated and timely depending on your school’s registrar). Get your recommendations in order. Know who’s writing them and give them detailed information on what they’re writing them for. Also send them thank you notes afterwards because writing recommendations can be timely. My biggest advice is to gather what you need for the application before it opens, so by time it does open, all you have to do it input all the information. Staying organized is key!
  1. Interview. If the program(s) you apply to ask you for an interview…this is a good thing. Being able to show a program who you are in person can make a huge difference. If you’re asked to interview, prepare as much as you can. Practice with other people, utilize online practice resources, and research everything about the program. Most interview questions are about critical thinking. Programs want to see how well you think on your feet. The directors know that you’re not an expert yet so answer the questions to the best of your knowledge. It is unlikely that a program will ask you to do calculations or anything huge but it’s always best to be prepared for anything. For the interview, arrive early, dress professionally (I wore a navy skirt and blazer suit set with a high cut blouse because my chest turns red in stressful situations, and I didn’t want that to be the focus of my interview. Make sure to dress for your body type!), and most importantly be yourself. If you’re not a good fit for the internship or visa versa, that’s okay! There are plenty more out there that may be right for you.

Remember, this is just my experience with everything. You may encounter different situations of your own. Feel free to comment with questions or if you’ve been through this process, comment with your own tips!

It’s a lot to take in, so take it slow, be smart, and know that if this is really what you want to do, never give up!

P.S. here’s my internship program in case you’re interested in a true southern experience internship 🙂

can we not…

*While I normally only write about my internship experiences, I decided to take a break and address a current issue that’s going on.

Throughout the last year, my Facebook newsfeed has been filled with blog posts with titles like “20 things all 20 somethings should be doing” or “How to get the most enjoyment out of being 20 something”. And after about the fourth one I read, I was D O N E. These blogs are so unrealistic to the majority of us 20 somethings. They’re all about making a name for yourself, making new friends, and taking time to get to know yourself and who you truly are. That’s all fine and dandy, but I just spent the last four years of undergrad finding out who I am and I don’t really think that’s going to change just because some blog told me I should spend the rest of this decade of my life reflecting on that.

What these blogs don’t paint a picture of is what’s its really like to be a post grad 20 something and how it’s not always the greatest time in your life. They don’t tell you that you most likely won’t be living near your college friends any more, or even if you are, you all have real jobs now and don’t get to grab icees at 2 in the afternoon or order Dominos at midnight. They don’t tell you how tough it is to move to a new city where you know very few people if anyone at all. They also don’t tell you how much it sucks to be an unpaid intern that the college degree you worked your butt off to get in four years or under will barely pay you more than minimum wage starting out.

What I want is a realistic twenty something blog saying, “This new stage in life can suck sometimes, but it can also be pretty great.” I need to hear that I’m not the only one who ate a bag of candy corn for dinner or that didn’t know how to write a check a month ago. I want someone who hates meeting new people and making new friends just as much as I do but is doing it anyway so that I don’t always feel lonely. I want to know that there are other people out there who hate working out but do it anyway because if you don’t all the mozzarella sticks you get from Sonic will make you gain weight. I want someone to say it’s okay to be single throughout your twenties, because it doesn’t mean you’ll end up a lonely old spinster cat lady (even though I’m half way there with the cat part). And I want someone to say it’s okay to cry when you think about how much you miss your friends and family.

God tells us that never will I leave you and never will I forsake you. It’s comforting during this trying time of grad school, new jobs, new people, and new cities that no matter where you are, Mississippi, Alabama, Florida, or Virginia, that God never changes. The God that my friends and I praised every Sunday and Wednesday in our church in Tuscaloosa is the same one that I pray to every morning in the car on my way to work. He’s the same God that I talk about with friends who are hundreds of miles away and He’s the same God that brings me comfort through this time of my life.

So if you’re a twenty something out there and you’re reading this, I hope you can relate. I hope I’m not the only one out there who’s feeling this way.

Here’s to us, the awkwardly placed middle of the twenty something generation, I think we’re all going to make it!

“Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another: ‘What? You too? I thought I was the only one.’”

-C.S. Lewis

look out jackson town

It’s been two weeks since I began calling Jackson home. After my graduate classes wrapped up at the end of July, I spent two weeks in Birmingham where I watched Netflix all day and refused to open my laptop. After two weeks of resting, I traveled back to Hattiesburg one last time for orientation before heading to Jackson permanently to begin my internship.

Our last day of class aka nutrition boot camp

Our last day of class aka nutrition boot camp

This semester of my internship is being spent rotating through the various aspects of the management side of the dietetic field. I began my rotations on Monday August 17th at Mississippi State Hospital or Whitfield Hospital. For those who are unfamiliar with this area, this hospital provides treatment to those suffering from a mental illness or chemical dependency as well as an on-site nursing home facility. I use the term hospital lightly because Whitfield is more of a residential campus than a hospital. The campus is comprised of 300 acres of land with over 100 buildings that were built in the 1920s and 1930s. Going into this rotation, I imagined a creepy facility that would be the prime location for a scary movie but the hospital is exactly the opposite. The campus is absolutely beautiful and has a quiet southern charm to it.

First day of rotations

First day of rotations

The food service operation at the hospital is G I N O R M O U S. They provide 3 meals a day along with snacks to roughly 900 patients/ residents as well as 35 men at the MDOC. There is a cafeteria for the hospital staff and well as a cafeteria for those patients who are permitted to eat offsite from their assigned building. The last two weeks I’ve been rotating through every aspect of the kitchen. This includes all of the sections of food production (bakery, entrees, salads, puree, snacks). I’ve helped to deliver food to buildings, watch the building staff serve the patient meals, and personally served meals to patients in the cafeteria. I helped with the receiving of food items (think huge Sysco truck, 4am, and me in an industrial sized freezer counting boxes of French toast sticks) and I’ve worked a day in the diet office (think 9 hours of me answering phone calls about things that I have no idea about and cutting pieces of paper in half for the tray tickets). I’ve also gotten the chance to help with the finances by paying bills and ordering food.

Also got me some glasses over my break

Also got me some glasses over my break

I wasn’t sure what to expect going into this rotation. During my undergrad classes, I never had an interest in foodservice and to be honest, I still don’t think it’s the area for me. That being said, I have the utmost respect for anyone who chooses to work in a foodservice operation, especially one in a hospital-like setting. The work is long and tiring and pay is not enough for the work actually being done. I’ve witnessed employees go above and beyond what their job description entails and that’s a huge reflection on the great management staff as well as the company.

My new baby Riley

My new baby Riley

In two weeks, I will be taking a break from the State Hospital until November. During my break from the facility I will spend two weeks in the Clinton School System, one week at the Jackson Health Department (WIC), and four weeks at St. Dominic’s Hospital. If I had it my way, I would spend my entire management rotation at the State Hospital. I’ve been here two weeks but I’ve grown to love the people and the community that the foodservice staff has. I know the fact that I’m not completely miserable during this rotation is all Jesus. Before I had even been accepted into an internship, I asked God that if it was his will for me to become an intern, that He would surround me with great people that would hold my values as well as those that I would be able to be an example too. And like always, God delivered, and for that I will be forever grateful.

“Jesus, undeterred, went right ahead and gave his charge: “God authorized and commanded me to commission you: Go out and train everyone you meet, far and near, in this way of life, marking them by baptism in the threefold name: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Then instruct them in the practice of all I have commanded you. I’ll be with you as you do this, day after day after day, right up to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:18-20

Internship Countdown: 2 weeks down, 31 weeks to go!

I’m still alive…

…but I’m barely breathing.

This has been my go to phrase for the last few weeks. Shout out to my amazing sister for writing a guest post on here in my absence. These last 4 weeks have been nuts. As soon as I finished up my first round of classes in Hattiesburg, I went home to Tuscaloosa/Birmingham. I packed up my house in Tuscaloosa and then spent the week in Birmingham helping my dad recover from knee replacement surgery. That Saturday (the 4th of July), I left for Oxford, Mississippi where I spent the next 7 days at Camp Hopewell’s camp for kids with Type 1 Diabetes. I had the absolute best time getting to be the “dietitian” for a cabin of six, 12-year-old boys. Everyone from the counselors to the nurses taught me so much during the week and I couldn’t have imagined a better experience.

The pump site I had the nurse place so that I could fit in with the other campers!

The pump site I had the nurse place so that I could fit in with the other campers!

After camp, I went back to Tuscaloosa for about 24 hours before heading back to Hattiesburg for two more weeks of class. Some would say, “Why didn’t you just go straight from camp in Oxford to Southern Miss in Hattiesburg?” The simplest answer…I’m an introvert. Needless to say, after 7 straight days of extroverting at camp, some alone time was needed. I was also unfortunately saying goodbye to David Jackson, a guy who has become one of the greatest friends I made during my undergrad years. He’s moving to Miami to mentor underprivileged kids. He’s amazing right?

Our intern group on day 1 of camp

Our intern group on day 1 of camp

Back in Hattiesburg, I spent the last week finishing up my class in clinical nutrition. This week may or may not have been one of the most stressful weeks of my entire life. But, I survived, and I will never have to do it again (fingers crossed). Which brings me to this current week, which is being spent finishing up my food service management class.

All of the USM interns on our last day of our clinical class!

All of the USM interns on our last day of our clinical class!

Writing this post right now made me realize that this is the first time in the last four weeks that I’ve had time to sit down and process all of my thoughts. This is the first time I’ve felt like I’ve been able to breathe. It’s also the first time that I’m not worried about what’s to come. I’ve spent the last few weeks beginning to wonder if I was really cut out to be a dietetic intern and ultimately a registered dietitian. But it didn’t take long for this wonder and this doubt to become full blown worry and anxiety. And after a couple of days wondering if I would actually make it, I realized how dumb I was. I realized that this worry and anxiety were nothing but lies from the enemy, and I had fallen for his trap. The bible tells us that the enemy is the father of lies (John 8:44), and he only comes to kill, steal, and destroy (John 10:10). And these ideas of “you’re not good enough” or “you’re not smart enough” were the lies that he was using to destroy me.

Once I confronted the enemy and the lies that he tried to make me believe, I turned to God. I asked him to replace this worry and anxiety, with a peace that only He can provide. Not a minute later I was scrolling through Pinterest and came across a pin that said, “10 verses for an anxious heart.” Perfect huh? And it was that pin that lead me to a verse in Philippians.

“Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.” Philippians 4:6-7 (MSG)

I love the way the Holy Spirit speaks exactly what I need to hear, exactly when I need to hear it. So now that I’m finally breathing again, here’s to moving to a new city next week, and then two weeks that will involve absolutely ZERO schoolwork!

Out of the Office

Since Marie is slammed with graduate school coursework this week, she asked if I would write a post. Since I have been through the exact program that Marie is currently part of, I figured I’d share my story.

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who[a]have been called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28

Do you see a coincidence as mere chance or as something else? I choose to see a coincidence as something else. I choose to see it as something I call “a God thing.”

I was never a “great” student.

Sure, I was a good student. I loved learning as much as possible about subjects I found particularly interesting, something that continues to this day. All through elementary school and middle school, I found school to be easy. In high school, however, things changed. The subjects became tougher. College was slowly creeping up on me, and I felt like I was in competition with my classmates, both academically and socially. Long story short, I was terrified of failing. Failing with my grades, failing socially, just failing in general. I don’t hide the fact that I struggled with massive anxiety throughout my time in high school, although many tell me 8 years out that they had no clue I was “afraid” of school. I don’t think I was ever ashamed that I was so anxious that the mere thought of getting out of my car would send me into panic mode.

One day, my gracious mother had had enough. She opened the phone book, and found a wonderful counselor who helped make school bearable again.  Around the same time, I had to make adjustments to my school-life so that I would not fall behind. When I explained my situation, several of my amazing teachers shared stories and encouragement that helped me when I just wanted to hide in a dark room. They certainly did not have to share such personal information with a student. His plan was just getting started.

God thing.

By the grace of God, my anxiety mellowed out. My grades were not near as catastrophic as I believed they were, and I headed the University of Alabama, where I spent 4.5 glorious years cheering on the Crimson Tide. I started at UA as a nursing major, but discovered mid-way through undergrad that earning a BSN from UA simply was not in the plan for me. After many tears were shed, I decided to look ahead. The first two years for nursing and nutrition majors require the same coursework (minus a few college-specific courses). I knew a few friends from high school who were nutrition majors, and I remember asking one of them to explain the program to me. I figured I’d give it a shot, especially since I had spent the last two years taking such lovely courses as organic chemistry and anatomy and physiology, and I would only be one semester behind. After meeting with some wonderful professors in the College of Human Environmental Sciences, I became a nutrition major.

Low and behold, nutrition was a better fit than nursing, y’all. It was in His plan from the start.

God thing.

Fall 2011. I was about to graduate from UA with my degree in food and nutrition. I knew my next step was to obtain a position in a dietetic internship so I could complete 1200 hours of supervised practice so that I could sit for the RD exam (board exam for dietitians). This should be easy, right? Wrong. As it turns out, positions in these internships are limited and are highly competitive (with a 50% match rate). My grades were good, but I was far from the top of my class.  My extracurricular activities were numerous, though, so I figured I had a shot. As I searched for programs in the south, I briefly scanned over the state of Mississippi. I saw there was a combined internship/graduate program at the University of Southern Mississippi. That was the only program in Mississippi I focused on (there are actually two other dietetic internships in MS…as I later learned. I somehow blocked them out). I figured I would apply to USM on a whim, as well as to programs in Georgia and Tennessee.

Fast-forward to April 1, 2012, 6:00 pm. With my heard pounding, I pull up the site that tells me if I got an internship, and if so, where I would be headed. I was SHOCKED to see “THE UNIVERSITY OF SOUTHERN MISSISSIPPI.” I immediately felt a connection, and I knew this was part of His plan.

Anxious mess to dietetic intern? Okay!

God thing.

So, I moved to Mississippi. Never in a MILLION years would I have believed you if you told me I would move to Mississippi.

You know how when you begin on a roller coaster, it starts out flat, then it peaks with a huge hill and possibly a few upside down flips before flattening out again? Yep. The internship was a roller coaster. Research. Papers. Care plans. Executive summaries. Business plans. Meal plans. Kitchen diagrams. Presentations.  Case studies. Lesson plans. Calculations. Areas including clinical, food service, pediatrics, renal, food bank, WIC, child nutrition, long-term care. If it has to do with nutrition, you name it? I have probably done it.

As it turns out, it was one of the best years of my life, and in May 2013, I was RD eligible with half of my Master’s degree completed.

Along the way, I picked up some AMAZING friends. We cried together, laughed together, and learned together, and I cherish their friendship to this day.

Let’s recap. Anxious mess to dietetic intern to RD-eligible? Even better.

God thing.

To speed things up, I passed my RD exam on the first try (with a migraine and an ear infection, no less), and began working at the University of South Alabama Medical Center in Mobile, AL. I am blessed to work in a facility where my voice as the nutrition expert is truly respected, and I have learned more in the last two years than in all of my prior schooling. I know not everyone hits the mark on their very first job, but y’all, I certainly did.  I even managed to finish that Master’s degree along the way.

Looking back at the whole picture, I am amazed at how my plan unfolded. There was a time that I never expected to finish high school, let alone graduate school. It can be done. There were many times I wanted to quit. God never left me alone. Even in my most anxious times, He was there, showing me the plan He had for me. One of these days I’m going to figure out that my plan is futile, because His plan will ALWAYS prevail.

Anxious mess to MS, RD, LD? #godthing

Melissa Hughey

Diaries From the Dorm

I feel like this should have been the name for a blog my freshman year of college. Needless to say, I have some stories about my freshman year dorm that would have made for a pretty interesting. Luckily, the second go around of dorm living has proven wildly different. Since last Sunday, I’ve been living on campus at Southern Miss while I attend classes. While not ideal, dorm living has been quite bearable. I get my own room and bathroom along with the convenience of having my partner in crime (Ashley) and a few other dietetic interns as my neighbors.

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I really have started to feel like I’m back in my freshman year again. I get up early to make it to class by 8:30. Class finishes by 4:30 and in true college fashion, I retreat to my dorm room to watch Neflix and nap. After dinner, me, Ashley and the other out of town interns get together in one of our rooms to discuss worksheets, funny things from class that day, and how much we miss being at our big SEC schools (did I mention the out of town interns are from Auburn and LSU… we’ve learned to love them anyways).

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With one week of class over and one more for the month of June, I already feel like I’ve learned so much. It’s exciting to be taking all the book knowledge that I was forced to memorize in undergrad and finally see where it fits in the world of dietetics. While 8 hours of class a day is extremely exhausting, I know that come August when I begin my rotations, I’m going to feel more than prepared.

Being back in a dorm has brought back a lot of memories. In a message from the Death to Selfie series by Pastor Steven Furtick, Pastor Steven talks about Jacob’s encounter with God at Bethel (Genesis 35). He talks about how we can sometimes get so caught up in where we’re going and what we want to be doing, that we forget to remember the places that God has already taken us.

Living in this dorm makes me remember back to a time when I knew who God was, I followed all of His rules, but I lacked a true relationship with Him. I remember back to a friend who lived in the same building. A friend who showed me what it meant to be in a real relationship with God. A friend who week after week, listened to me give her excuses about why I couldn’t go to church with her. And this same friend who continued to pray for me to come into a relationship with God and who stood by my side during one of the hardest times of my life. This friendship, along with countless others lead me into a real relationship with God. So to me, being in this dorm brings me “back to Bethel”. That freshman year dorm was the place where God revealed himself, and it was the place where I started to truly fall in love with Him.

So for now, I will be thankful for 8 hours of class, for being at a non-SEC school, and for dorm room living, because sometimes you have to go back to your past, to be thankful for your present.

“Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1st Thessalonians 5:16-18

Where Are You?

This is a question that I get asked pretty frequently nowadays. Some people think I’ve already moved to Mississippi, some think I’m at my parent’s house in Birmingham, and others think I’m still at my house in Tuscaloosa. And to make it more confusing, I’m getting my master’s degree from Southern Miss in Hattiesburg, but come August, I will be permanently living in Jackson where I will be completing my internship.

The reservoir in Jackson, Mississippi

The reservoir in Jackson, Mississippi

If you try to keep up through my Instagram or Facebook posts, you’ll probably end up even more confused. Last week at church, a girl saw me at the service and then later asked one of my roommates  if I had a twin because she could’ve sworn that I had already moved to Mississippi. The truth is, I’m currently living in all three. And honestly, I don’t blame anyone for not being able to keep up; I’m barely keeping up with it myself.

So the purpose of this post was to help clear up (for those of you who actually care about my summer whereabouts) where exactly I am.

I’ve spent the first two weeks of June living in my house in Tuscaloosa. The graduate program that I’m in at Southern Miss is considered a distance program, which means all of my work can be done online. So for the last two weeks, I’ve spent everyday working on both clinical and foodservice review worksheets. On Sunday, I will leave for Hattiesburg, MS, where The University of Southern Mississippi campus is located. I will be there for two weeks living in a dorm (still trying to repress flashbacks from freshman year) and going to class from 8:30-4:30 everyday. Luckily my sister lives two hours away in Mobile, so I have an escape on the weekend in between those two weeks.

Ashley, my partner in crime and future roommate!

Ashley, my partner          in crime and                   future roommate!

The following week, I will come back to Tuscaloosa and continue working on more worksheets for my classes. The next week I will then travel to Oxford, MS where I will have the opportunity to help out at Camp Hopewell’s camp for kids with Type 1 Diabetes. After what’s sure to be a fun filled week at camp, I will head back to Hattiesburg, MS for two more weeks of classes. Once those two weeks are up, I’ll go back to Tuscaloosa for the night and then that Saturday I will move to Jackson, MS. I have the first two weeks in August off for vacation and orientation with my facilities so there really is no telling where I will be during those weeks.

I hope my explanation helped clear up some of the confusion and if not, just know that beginning in August, you can most likely find me in Mississippi.

Aside from my summer whereabouts, I’ve also been dealing with confusion in many other areas of my life. Confusion with my school work, confusion on where to live in Jackson, and also confusion on WHAT THE HECK TO DO WITH MY LIFE ONCE I HAVE TO GET A JOB(luckily this can wait for a year). But through all this confusion, I’m reminded of one constant, and that’s that God is never confusing. Whether I’m in Tuscaloosa, Jackson, or even half way across the world, God is constant. Jesus is constant. And their love for me is constant. Through all these upcoming life changes, I’m reassured by God’s unchanging promises; they’re what keep from having a mental break down every day.

So my advice to anyone dealing with big life changes or confusing times, take heart in knowing that,

“God is not a God of confusion but of peace…” 1st Corinthians 14:33 (ESV)

In the Beginning…

…God created the Heavens and the Earth. And a bunch of years later, here I am writing a blog about my life.

One purpose of this blog, at least for the next 11 months, is to give those reading some insight into what’s going on in my life. Over the next 11 months I will be completing my dietetic internship by distance in Jackson, Mississippi at The University of Southern Mississippi with an ending goal of becoming a registered dietitian. For those of you who have completed a dietetic internship, you understand the struggles and triumphs that this next year will bring. To those who are planning on applying to an internship…God bless you. And to those of you who have no idea what a dietetic internship is, stay tuned because I’m going to do my best to give you a picture of what exactly I’ll be doing.

To make it simple, in order for a registered dietitian to become more than just someone who is obsessed with nutrition they must:

  1. Complete an undergraduate degree in food and nutrition from an accredited university.
  2. Complete a certain number of hours of supervised practice in a clinical, foodservice, and community setting.
  3. Pass an insanely hard exam

I’m currently completing part two. This next year, I will be working at multiple hospitals and facilities trying to learn everything there is for a registered dietitian to do. And by the end of these 11 months, I’ll hopefully be smart enough to pass that exam, get a job, and officially be Marie Hughey Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN for short). That is the main short-term goal for now…other than trying not to have a mental break down every other hour due to the insane amount of grad school work that I need to be doing instead of writing this post.

May has already proven to be a month of huge changes. I graduated college, my sister got her masters in nutrition (she’s already a dietitian and yes, I am super pumped about being sister dietitians one day), my best friend got married, I started grad school classes, and I began looking for an apartment in Jackson Mississippi. To be honest, I’m exhausted and I’ve barely begun, but I know that if I’ve made it this far, then I can make it through this next year.

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A second purpose for this blog is to share some about God and how his promises will get me through this next year. The 2 grueling months that I waited to hear about internship decisions were probably the most I had ever relied on God. I prayed so many things but my main prayer was that in all things, whatever happens, “May your will be done.” Throughout my undergrad, I’ve learned that this is the simplest yet most rewarding prayer you can pray, “Not my will but yours be done.” There’s something freeing about completely surrendering your will to God. In all things I strive to glorify God, and while sometimes I think my way is better or God’s way is too hard, I always end up begging for what God wants in my life, because so far it’s worked out pretty well.

So for now, I’m just ready to get moving on what’s sure to be the best year of my life!

“However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace.”

Acts 20:24