My Journey to Becoming a Registered Dietitian

Happiness when I found a soy milk-based soft serve in Japan ❤

Someone famous once said, “We must let go of a life that is planned out in order to face the life that is waiting for us.” Who knows when life can hit you with curveballs? I can tell you one thing for sure: I’ve been hit with so many curveballs I will take on any challenge. As a 24-year-old who graduated with a Master’s degree in Nutrition, you might think everything is going the way it is supposed to for me. If you call being diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes at age 12, scoliosis at age 14 and Systemic Lupus Erythematosus at age 16 living a normal life, I want to trade lives with you. After these three major curveballs in my life, I was hit with my fourth major curveball – not matching to an internship shortly before I graduated with my Bachelor’s degree. Surely I was devastated but I overcame three curveballs; I can overcome this one in no time. And I did; I got a job at Nikkei Manor Assisted Living Facility, I passed the Diet Technician exam and I enrolled as a master’s student at Bastyr University. Everything was going smoothly; I was determined to obtain a match for Spring 2016.

Come Match Day in April, I was counting down the seconds in front of my computer revealing my fate for the next nine months to a year. Curveball #5 – the two words that swam across my computer screen: NO MATCH. This was the start to my roller coaster ride of my last quarter at graduate school. Three days later, when I was perusing the second-rounds list, my mother screamed, “NO WAY!” Curveball #6 – our property management was not going to renew our lease so we had to move out by the end of May. By this time, I thought things could not get any worse. It did. Curveball #7 – I had a fight with my best friend and lost the friendship. I was stressed out from all everything and worried I would not finish my thesis, let alone graduate. I was depressed and emotionally eating my way to ease the pain. But when things start going downhill, it can only go uphill from there. I remembered how strong I had been each time I was hit with a curveball. My perseverance was what kept me going. I started brainstorming what my options and priorities were and in two short weeks, my mother and I managed to find a place to live, I finished my thesis and I landed myself two new jobs in order to support the extra expenses after graduation. Although I am not perfect, I have a passion to keep me striving for my goals. Those curveballs in life have taught me this: with positivity and determination, I am capable of doing anything. I can overcome challenges with perseverance. I can do this with chutzpah!

When I think back to why I even entered the nutrition field, I recall the day I first met my dietitian the day I was diagnosed with T1DM. I never met someone who had so much passion when it came to food and I immediately fell in love with her profession. I wanted to become just like her and change lives through food and nutrition. As I was gaining the knowledge I needed to become a registered dietitian, I met many people who were passionate about what they did. For example, the CEO of Keiro Northwest (the mother company of Nikkei Manor) was extremely passionate about giving back to the community. I wanted to pick up on those traits from him. My time with Keiro Northwest (KNW) helped me realize what I truly wanted to do when it came down to nutrition and dietetics. Because we care for Asian elders, cultural diversity sets our company apart from other companies. I strongly believed food and culture go hand in hand. KNW is also an advocate for moving forward, it made me want to do something for the company that would benefit the Japanese-American community. My thesis project involved exploring food preferences among Japanese-Americans and it was one step in giving back to the Japanese-American community. In the future, I want to be the face of KNW and to become a health and wellness advocate for the Japanese American Citizens League of Seattle. Because nutrition is a field about constant developments, different approaches must be taken for each individual to provide the right care. Currently, I have stepped away from KNW for a while but I want to be able to come back as soon as I obtain my RD and share my skills and knowledge from this dietetic internship into my nutritional practices in the future.

Lastly, I know what it is like to be culturally different and to live with chronic diseases through personal experience. I want to change lives of those who come to me with my expertise in nutrition.

Unfortunately, I did not match to any internships for the Fall 2016 Match for the first round, but thankfully I matched to Priority Nutrition Care Dietetic Internship during second rounds. I started my internship journey in January 2017 and successfully passed my RDN exam in September 2017.