I am originally from East Africa, Ethiopia and Eritrea. My Dad is Eritrean, and I was born and raised in Ethiopia. We have various family customs related to food. As for culture, we are vegan most of the year and eat meat in between fasting seasons.
I believe we have the best vegan/vegetarian food that is both flavorful and nourishing. I completed my undergraduate at the University of Maryland, College Park in 2007. Go Terps! I then went on to complete my dietetics internship with Sodexo Mid Atlantic at Johns Hopkins Hospital 2008-2009. I shadowed various individuals in different healthcare settings.
I fell in love with dietetics as it enables me to teach and empower individuals to take charge of their own well-being. My true passion is helping and encouraging individuals; nutrition is a great tool to facilitate and provide real solutions for individuals to gain their health back. I am currently a full-time mompreneur and part-time private practice owner. In addition, I consult for various companies on a PRN basis. As my children grow up, my goal is to continue to grow my private practice to a full-time operating practice. Finding internships and places to volunteer was very challenging during undergrad. After a year of searching, I found a volunteer opportunity as a result of meeting a black dietitian at a health fair and asked if I could shadow her. I volunteered at her hospital for 4 months, where they later gave me a job as a Dietetic Tech while I was a junior in college. If it was not for her, I honestly would not have had a chance at all. I have ALWAYS had a mentor and still do! My mentor has helped me understand the private practice world. She taught me how to navigate the ins and outs of running my business and managing my expectations with clients. She has given me tools and resources so I do not repeat the same mistakes she made. She even taught me how to negotiate my rate during the beginning stages. Through her guidance, I was able to save time and energy, which has allowed me to focus on things that matter during the different seasons of my life. I think diversity in the field is important because if it had not been for the black RD who opened the door for me and mentored me, I don’t think I would be where I am today. She created a space and an opportunity that allowed me to enter the field I love and so I pay it forward. I want to empower and support the next generation of black dietitians, as well as help communities of color gain their health back. Sadly, sometimes, the field of dietetics fails to provide culturally relevant solutions. No way my mom would eat salads three times a day (lol). But I showed her how she can still enjoy our foods in a healthier way and helped her learn new habits that will lead her to true wellbeing. I am proud to call my mom one of my clients and I want to help many more people in under-represented communities. Find different mentors as soon as possible and learn from them as much as possible. Everyone will have something to teach you, even about how not to be a bad RD. I took everyone’s advice, but I did not allow their fear and frustration to distract me from my goals.
I am grateful and happy that Diversify Dietetic exists for the upcoming students of color. I was fortunate to accidentally connect with Cheryl, but DD is here to intentionally support and encourage students to see themselves in one of us. More importantly, they can do so much better and faster than we had to do things due to ease of accessibility to the DD community. I am here to support the next generation do better and exceed what we are able to accomplish with our limited network and resources in the past. In the next five years, I hope to see us double in number with the support and encouragement of RD’s like myself and the entire DD community.