Danny Sweet enjoys making people’s days a little better.
“I feel like I have a charm that helps brighten up their day,” said the junior from Newport News, Virginia. “And, it makes me happy when I see people in a good mood.”
Not many things are good-mood-inducing more than a pleasant smile and a warm plate. Danny learned this firsthand while working as a dietary aide at a hospital, delivering food to geriatric patients.
“It seemed they were always happy to see me,” Danny said. “And, I have a soft spot for older adults.”
Caring for the well-being of others, particularly through their dietary needs, is one reason Danny chose to transfer to Radford University and enroll in its nutrition and dietetics program after two years of studying at a community college. Another reason, as he learned before he arrived on campus, was the engaged and helpful nature of the program’s faculty.
As he was searching for a school that could set him on the path to becoming a registered dietitian, Danny contacted assistant professor of nutrition and dietetics Mary Jean Miller, M.S., R.D.N., for assistance and advice.
“Ms. Miller was very helpful,” Danny said. “She answered a lot of my questions about my path and program requirements. She stayed connected with me and kept me updated on all the things I needed to know.”
Once Danny arrived on campus, he discovered the nutrition and dietetics program was an excellent fit for him. The professors and their willingness to connect with students fit Danny’s vision for meeting his academic needs for his chosen career path.
“You are held to a higher standard here,” Danny said. “That is exactly what we need to succeed.”
Once students graduate from the nutrition and dietetics program, those who want to pursue credentials as a registered dietitian apply for prestigious internships around the United States.
These competitive, 1,200-hour internships last for approximately one year. Upon completing the internships, participants are eligible to earn credentials as registered dietitians by taking the national exam, administered by the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR).
“These programs are much like a medical residency,” said Laurie Bianchi, an assistant professor in the nutrition and dietetics program.
Meal planning is high on his list of job duties as part of his career aspirations. “I would like to work in a hospital, specifically working with people with hypertension and diabetes. “My grandmother has Type 1 diabetes, and I like trying to help her out.” Also, “I might like to work in prenatal and postnatal, as well as with adolescents. I love those age groups, too.”
The nutrition and dietetics program is helping him meet his life goals, from the faculty – who “are always there to help us whenever we need it,” he said – to the close-knit community of students enrolled in the program.
“We’re all pretty close, and everyone is really nice and helpful,” Danny said. “We help each other out as much as we can when it comes to studying and working on group projects. Everybody always comes together, and that makes me proud to be a Highlander.”