Rachel Dalton, 2017 dietetics graduate and current dietetic intern, has always had a passion for nutrition, science and helping others. Those three passions led her to apply and be accepted into the Peace Corps.
Dalton said her love for nutrition stems back to grade school. When it came time to apply to college, Dalton decided to pursue a degree in dietetics.
“Looking back, I cannot think of a better-suited major for me,” she said.
Dalton completed her undergraduate degree in dietetics from Iowa State University in May 2017, and currently is in the midst of completing her clinically focused dietetics internship at Cleveland Clinic in Ohio.
“Each rotation, I learn an immense amount of information from my preceptors, the interdisciplinary team, and my patients,” Dalton said. “Something I have really valued about my time at the Clinic is seeing the pertinent role the dietitian plays in the interdisciplinary team. Other specialties recognize the dietitian as the nutrition expert, and typically, what the dietitian recommends for the patient is done.”
When she completes her dietetic internship in July, Dalton will begin preparing for her next adventure. She was accepted to serve in the Peace Corps’ Community Health Improvement Project (CHIP) in Zambia, Africa. She will attend pre-service training in September, during which she’ll learn what specific village in which she’ll be placed.
CHIP focuses on maternal and child health, with the goals of improving the health and nutrition of mothers and children, as well as preventing HIV/AIDS.
“My purpose is to help train and empower Zambians to promote appropriate and sustainable strategies that improve maternal, neonatal, and child health and mitigate the effects of HIV/AIDS,” Dalton said. “Specific tasks may include: capacity building of community-based organization, monitoring growth and rehabilitation of malnourished children and adults through nutrition demonstrations, and participating in national public health events, such as Child Health Week, which help increase awareness on the importance of immunizations.”
Dalton hopes her time in the Peace Corps will give her a better idea of what she would like to do professionally as a dietitian.
“There are so many career paths within the field of dietetics, and I sense that Peace Corps is my stepping stone into the career path best suited for me,” Dalton said.