Samantha Ordonez

Impact Story: Samantha Ordonez

Hometown/Recent location:  Mililani, Hawaii

Undergraduate Institution:  University of Hawai`i at Mānoa

Degree:  Food Science and Human Nutrition

Additional Institutions:  University of Southern California

Interest/ Hobbies:  I enjoy hiking, dancing, reading, traveling, trying new foods, swimming and relaxing at the beach.  My academic interests include Medical Nutrition Therapy, Nutrigenomics, Public Health and Health Promotion, especially in minority populations.

Previous Work Experience / Internships:  During my undergraduate career, I have worked as a research assistant for two different organizations:  the Asian American Network for Cancer Awareness, Research & Training (AANCART) based in Honolulu, Hawaii, and the University of Hawai`i at Mānoa.  At AANCART, I aided in studies which administered interventions to minorities in Hawaii to improve health outcomes.  At the University of Hawai`i at Mānoa, I worked to develop several nutrition-related preventive handouts and booklets and to distribute these items to Registered Dietitians in Hawaii, other healthcare providers, and restaurant owners.  I also used a newly developed program in Spanish, akin to Food Processor in the United States, to enter and analyze 24hr recalls of adolescents in Lima, Peru.  I have gained clinical experience at two hospitals in Hawaii by following appropriate procedures to efficiently and effectively feed inpatients.  My community nutrition background stems from an undergraduate research study which took place at the Special Supplemental Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC).  In this study, I recruited and interviewed participants regarding cultural influences on infant feeding.

Current Program: Dietetic Internship

1. Why did you choose to attend the Friedman School?

I chose to attend the Friedman School because of the vast opportunities it provides me with.  Firstly, a joint program to get my Master’s degree in Nutrition while fulfilling requirements, such as various clinical rotations, to become a Registered Dietitian puts me on the fast track to success.  The Frances Stern Nutrition Center and Friedman program was the only dietetic internship program I applied to that offered a Master’s degree.  Secondly, the Friedman School had a variety of classes, many of which were of interest to me.  It is very interesting to look at courses such as nutrigenomics, humanitarian action, and food and nutrition policy through a clinical lens.  The Friedman School also offers cross registration at the Tufts University School of Arts & Sciences, the Sackler School of Biomedical Sciences, School of Medicine, and Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy to name just a few.  This gives me a lot of freedom to hear differing perspectives on similar issues and to learn from different schools of thought.  Lastly, the Boston area attracted me to the Friedman School.  Having visited Boston a few times from Hawaii, I always enjoyed the atmosphere and got really excited taking in all the food and culture.  Attending the Friedman School presented me with a unique opportunity to live in Boston and get the full experience.

2. What are you most looking forward to during your time at the Friedman School and/or what have some of your favorite experiences been at the Friedman School?

One of my favorite experiences here at the Friedman School is hearing new research related to food and nutrition.  The Friedman seminars present me with an opportunity to hear about current research and from Friedman faculty whose classes I have yet to take.  Many of my classes require me to analyze current research both in its primary source and its presentation to the general population.  This translation of scientific literature is of great interest to me and I hope to contribute in the future.  I also enjoy meeting the students and faculty who have come from different regions and therefore have different perspectives on current issues.  This widens my understanding of these issues and allows me to network with many different people.  Currently, I look forward to writing for the Friedman Sprout, the school’s online monthly newspaper, and volunteering for Jumbo’s Kitchen to help teach children basic cooking skills and nutrition.

3. What are your career aspirations and how do you think your Friedman School education will help you achieve these goals?

My short-term goal is to become a renal dietitian and work in a medical center with dialysis patients.  In the years after I achieve this goal, I would like to gain as much clinical understanding as possible by becoming a Certified Nutrition Support Clinician and working with patients on enteral and parenteral nutrition.  When I have gained enough knowledge from working in the hospital environment, my long-term goal is to obtain a Doctor of Philosophy in Food Policy and Applied Nutrition degree from the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy.  I desire to work with health organizations and stakeholders to promote healthy nutrition and behaviors to the public.  This is because, although I greatly admire and look forward to working in a clinical setting, this only solves a problem that has already happened.  I would like to work with people, programs, and through policy to prevent these problems from happening in the first place and thereby work towards a long-term solution to the nation’s health problems.

4. How has financial aid impacted your Friedman School experience and/or what would you like to say to thank our donors for their generosity?

Without financial aid, I would not be able to accept this great opportunity to learn and grow at the Friedman School.  Thank you for helping me to achieve my dreams.  I truly appreciate it.