Meet our Students

Dan Coello (Sargent ’18, ’20)

Tell us about your background as an undergraduate nutrition student at BU and your road to the MS + DI program.

I went into the undergraduate nutrition program at BU having a strong sense of what I wanted to do, namely inpatient nutrition. I had always been interested in healthcare, and early on, I wanted to go to medical school. Once my interests changed, I realized nutrition would be a good fit for me. The program offered at BU had a good reputation, and I figured it would prepare me adequately to be a clinician, so I applied. It honestly turned out to be a lot more exciting and challenging than I thought it would. The program was designed to help you teach yourself and become a clinician that is able to learn and evolve well beyond the end of your time at BU. Once I finished my undergraduate degree, the next big decision was where to complete my dietetic internship. I knew I wanted to come out of the internship with a master’s degree, so BU’s MS+DI program was a consideration. After applying to a few different programs and going through the infamous match process, I found myself back at BU.

What have you liked most about the MS + DI program?

My favorite part of the program was the flexibility to choose elective courses. Perhaps my favorite class was a gastronomy course I took during the second semester of the MS component of the program. While I had spent years looking at food through a clinical lens, the course completely blew open my perception of food as we examined it through the lenses of philosophy, sociology, and cultural anthropology. The course helped me connect my clinical knowledge of nutrition to many other facets of the arts and humanities. After the course, I felt very well-rounded in terms of the depth of my knowledge of food.

How has BU’s MS + DI program built upon your undergraduate foundation and further prepared you for the next step in your career?

Both the MS and DI component have helped me focus on what I really want to do in terms of my career. As I mentioned before, I went into the program believing I would end up in an inpatient setting. Now, I believe my path forward involves community nutrition, as well as other things not necessarily related to nutrition, such as graphic design and music. I credit this shift in thinking to how supportive the program is in bringing out your creativity and respecting your interests and passions. The program also gave me many opportunities to network with people that would help me achieve my goals in the future. As a result, I was able to establish a relationship with the teaching kitchen at Boston Medical Center.

What has been your experience with the nutrition faculty and the internship preceptors?

They are unbelievably supportive. The professors and advisors are all very approachable and care about your well-being, not just from an academic standpoint. They will make sure you have the resources you need to thrive during your time here. They will bring out your interests and passions and find a way to incorporate them into your learning.

Jessica Pelletier (Sargent ’20)

Tell us about your background and your road to BU’s MS/DI program.

I received my BS in Nutrition and Dietetics from the University of New Hampshire. I completed the program in 3.5 years, so for the 8 months leading up to BU’s program I worked as a diet technician at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital. I finished the MS portion of BU’s MS+DI program this May and am currently in my Dietetic Internship at UMass Memorial Medical Center in Worcester, MA.

What do you like most about the MS+DI program?

All of the professors in the MS+DI program want students to achieve their goals and are there to provide them with the necessary tools to do so. Each professor has a unique background and various resources, meaning that there are infinite opportunities available to students. Professors are always willing to go out of their way to contact their networks to give students experiences where they desire; students just need to be proactive and reach out to them.

Tell us about your graduate practicum experience.

I completed my practicum in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at UMass Memorial Medical Center under the supervision of the NICU RD (a BU alumni!). I was able to learn about the RD’s role in this unit and complete multiple literature reviews that were presented to the NICU Nutrition Research Team and Neonatal Nutrition Committee. The literature reviews were on body composition measurements in preterm infants, prevention and treatment of TPN-induced cholestasis, and BMI growth curves. The cholestasis literature helped assist the NICU RD to implement a TPN policy change. I also spent a great deal of time working on a research project examining growth patterns in extreme preterm infants and low birth weight infants after NICU discharge. I was informed at the end of my practicum that due to my contribution to the project, I would have my name listed on the published paper; this felt like an amazing accomplishment.

How do you feel this program is preparing you for the next step in your career?

BU did an excellent job in making sure I knew how to read through scientific literature and separate fact from fiction. With there being so much inaccurate information about nutrition available to the general population, BU helped me determine how to find evidence-based recommendations. BU also helped me strengthen my public speaking skills with multiple presentations built into the program.

What has been your experience with the nutrition faculty?

The nutrition faculty treated me so well that I hope to someday be able to give back to students what professors gave to me. Faculty members went out of their way to make sure I got desired experiences: research and the NICU. They always checked in on me and really built a sense of community within the department. Most of all, they made sure I knew that they were a lifelong connection; it is such a great feeling knowing that the faculty wants me flourish in my career after completing the program.