My name is Kylie and I, like many of you, am studying to be a registered dietitian. I recently completed my undergrad at Brescia UC and will be pursuing my Master of Nutrition Communication at Ryerson University very soon!
My time at Brescia was great, however one area which was particularly lacking for me was the diversity. I understand that London is a predominantly white-populated town, however after four years of not seeing myself represented in my peers, professors, and dietetic coordinators, it really started to affect me. I started to question whether or not this issue would continue to surface once I entered the profession, and if I would truly “belong” when I got there.
Fast forward to present day, and it appears my fears have been validated. There is an astonishing lack of diversity in dietetics, which is problematic not just for the dietitians themselves, but for the general public looking for relatable advice. You can offer all the cultural competency training you want (which is pretty much non-existent in undergrad), but nothing beats receiving personalized care from an individual who is familiar with your cultural experience because it was also their own.
Though I don’t have many answers, one thing that I will urge you all to do is to look at your social circle in your dietetics peers. Who did you choose to befriend in undergrad? Was it only people who looked like you, or did you make friends in many cultural backgrounds? Reflect on what your answer was and why you think that is. I can say from experience that being one of the racialized individuals at Brescia, I found it very difficult to make close connections with white students, who all appeared to want to congregate exclusively with other white students. I recognize that part of this was simply a numbers ratio disproportion, but I think that supporting and connecting with each other right from the beginning can make such a big difference through undergrad and beyond.
I am proud of my heritage and am excited to enter dietetics as a person of colour, bringing forth the much-needed representation in this field.