What they're saying...

Elizabeth White

"The experiences in my clinical rotations really helped develop my confidence in establishing rapport with patients and gave me a real-world understanding of how hospitals and clinics operate” - Elizabeth White, 2021 Undergraduate Coordinated Dietetics Program 4+1 Graduate

A journey from the beginning...

Elizabeth White, a 2021 graduate of the Coordinated Program in Dietetics + MS in Health Promotion Sciences (CPMS) program, knew she was interested in the dietetics program since freshman year. Elizabeth explained how she would take "many winter and summer intersession classes so [she] wouldn't feel overwhelmed with the course load over the academic year" so she would be right on track to apply the spring semester of her sophomore year during the typical application window.  Currently, Elizabeth is a Registered Dietitian-Nutritionist at a private practice owned by another registered dietitian, where she primarily specializes in weight loss, but continues to see and treat other populations and medical conditions. Elizabeth provides nutritional counseling and education to help prevent, reduce, and eliminate their health risks, designs personalized meal plans for each patients to suit their specific dietary needs and health goals, and follows up with her patients regularly to monitor profess and develop realistic solutions to any barriers they are facing.

"I love my job and that I see my patients regularly so I have the opportunity to establish a strong rapport with them. It excites me that I can see their progress over time and be there to help celebrate their successes whether that’s losing weight, eliminating the need for certain medications, reducing health risks, etc. My patients inspire me each and every day. It is such a rewarding experience to see them achieve their goals and transform their relationship with food in a positive manner."


Danica Garvin

"The learning opportunities provided by the UConn Coordinated Dietetics are unparalleled. Classes and rotations are planned each semester to evoke a deeper understanding of the material. Although the program is academically rigorous, ample resources are available to succeed, including a supportive faculty who is always enthusiastic, available, and eager to share their knowledge, even beyond graduation. The courses, rotations, faculty, and close-knit group of students creates a learning environment that fosters self-discovery and growth that is truly unique to the UConn experience." - Danica Garvin, 2019 Undergraduate Coordinated Dietetics Program 4+1 Graduate

Find Your Niche

Danica Garvin, 2019 Coordinated Dietetics Program graduate, had her sights set on the comprehensive nutrition program from the moment she received her acceptance letter to the University of Connecticut. Although she loved the science-driven, fast-paced realm of clinical dietetics, she was equally drawn to the more personal aspect of outpatient counseling. Through the Coordinated Program, Danica was provided the opportunity to be placed in 4 different hospital settings, ranging from small community hospitals to large urban medical centers, as well as 4 outpatient settings, ultimately culminating in a specialty rotation in oncology, where she truly found her niche.  The ability to learn the essentials of dietetic practice in class while simultaneously performing such tasks by hand at dietetic internship sites created a strong foundation upon which she could build her dietetics career. Such a foundation enabled Danica to quickly gain her RDN license, Master of Nutrition, and Certified Nutrition Support Specialist (CNSC) certification and ultimately achieve a position at Johns Hopkins, where she served as the outpatient oncology dietitian in the aerodigestive division as well as an inpatient clinical dietitian on a multitude of acute floors for 2.5 years. Danica was recently invited to transition her role and join the University of Maryland Medical Center as a member of the outpatient renal transplant team and inpatient surgical oncology and vascular surgery units.


Michelle Sarta

These experiences will round you for your ultimate goal: a career that you love – a job that you look forward to waking up for. This field is full of more enrichment and more surprises than any other path I could’ve imagined.” - Michelle Sarta, 2019 Coordinated Program in Dietetics + MS in Health Promotion Sciences graduate

One Seamless Journey

Michelle Sarta, a 2019 graduate of the Coordinated Program in Dietetics + MS in Health Promotion Sciences (CPMS) program, was pursuing her goal of becoming a dietitian during a transitional time – the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics was increasing the schooling requirement from a bachelors to a masters. Although Michelle could have been grandfathered into the bachelors degree requirement, she chose the CPMS program because of its coordinated nature. “I knew that I wanted to be ahead of the game by pursuing the masters degree, and the coordinated program offered me both the internship experience and degree in one seamless journey – it was a no-brainer for me,” she says.

After graduating from the CPMS program, Michelle began working as a clinical dietitian at the Veteran’s Affairs Medical Center in West Haven, CT. She provides medical nutrition therapy to an acute care population, and also spends time as an outpatient renal dietitian for veterans receiving dialysis at the VA. Eventually, Michelle will transition to working as a full-time outpatient dietitian, once the inpatient demand due to the COVID-19 pandemic subsides.

Covering all the Bases

When looking back on her time at UConn, Michelle believes the solid foundation and heavy clinical focus provided by the dietetics program gave her the ability and confidence to pursue an inpatient position immediately after graduation. But, Michelle mentions, “between my community and food service rotations, there were not any entry-level jobs that felt ‘off-limits’ to me, I felt the experiences were broad enough to cover all of my bases.”

Michelle says that she didn’t realize how vast the field of nutrition was, and the CPMS program opened her eyes to aspects of nutrition well beyond the “clinical” position she imagined. Although she’s currently working in the clinical field, Michelle is grateful for the ability to expand her horizons beyond clinical if she chooses to.

Michelle recommends the CPMS program to anyone who is looking for diverse internship experiences a wide range of clinical, outpatient, and community settings. The program’s established relationships with various internship sites gave Michelle the ability to leverage and pursue the opportunities she wanted to, rather than feeling obligated to pursue anything that was given to her. When reflecting, Michelle says “It was such a privilege to have a choice in my rotations, and to feel satisfied with the experiences that I gained. I never felt as though I had ‘missed out’ on anything.”

The Benefit of Research Expertise

The master’s portion of the program gave Michelle the opportunity to analyze research and understand how to implement evidence-based practice into her work every day. And this knowledge will stick with her, ensuring that she has the tools to remain up to date on the most cutting-edge research in the future.

For her master’s thesis, Michelle was involved in research and wrote the foundation of a paper titled ‘Evaluation of nutrient composition and omega-3 fatty acid consumption patterns related to current guidelines in breast cancer survivors: An observational cohort study,’ which is currently being submitted for publication. “This experience provided me with so much insight into the research field,” Michelle says. “I feel as though when I read a research paper now, I can vividly imagine the process and the amount of work required, which gives me a deep appreciation and respect for researchers and innovators in the field.”

An Enriching and Surprising Field

Michelle gives valuable advice to prospective students – be open to different career paths. “I have found in my trajectory that certain disease states and/or specialties that didn’t initially excite me, wound up being the ones that I wanted to focus on… for example, I am currently taking an intensive, multi-disciplinary class on eating disorders, which is a specialty that never peaked my interest. However, this class has changed my perspective, and I am now more fascinated and interested in this topic than I ever thought I would be.” In addition, in the past, Michelle was originally uninterested in working in nutrition support or ICU care – a field she ended up developing a love for during the COVID-19 pandemic, when she worked with COVID-positive patients in the ICU. “I found the work to be exciting, rewarding, and stimulating,” she says.

And once enrolled in the program, Michelle has advice for picking rotations. “I’d recommend choosing the rotations that feel the most ‘scary’ or ‘challenging’ to you. Are you afraid of nutrition support? Ask for a rotation in the intensive care unit where most of your patients will require tube feedings or intravenous nutrition recommendations. Are you having trouble talking to or connecting with patients? Ask for an outpatient rotation where you’ll be forced to have one-on-one interaction with them for an hour at a time. Choose a rotation that you wouldn’t expect to enjoy. These experiences will round you for your ultimate goal: a career that you love – a job that you look forward to waking up for. This field is full of more enrichment – and more surprises – than any other path I could’ve imagined.”

Anthony Duong

“As a future dietitian, it’s critical that I’m able to connect clinical, food service, and community fields together and provide the best possible medical advice for my clients. This program has given me the ability to do just that.” - Anthony Duong, 2021 (planned) Coordinated Program in Dietetics + MS in Health Promotion Sciences

Using Food as Fuel

Anthony Duong became interested in nutrition in high school because of his experiences as a high school athlete – he began supplementing his weight training and conditioning with food to fuel his body. “Through nutrition, I was able to overcome the barriers I was experiencing.” Anthony received a bachelor's degree in nutritional sciences major and then joined the Coordinated Program in Dietetics + MS in Health Promotion Sciences (CPMS) program. He plans to graduate in 2021.

As a CPMS student, Anthony works with Dr. Jillian Wanik, Ellen Shanley, and Dr. Valerie Duffy on a research team focused on evaluating malnourished patients and the protocols that acute care systems perform to set up services once the patients are discharged. In addition to his schoolwork and research at UConn, Anthony also works as a diet tech and catering associate lead at the Hospital of Central Connecticut.

Providing the Best Possible Outcome

During his time in the CPMS program, Anthony has gained knowledge and skills to help him in his current career – and to prepare him for his future. “The program focuses on the clinical, food service, and community fields,” Anthony says. “As a future dietitian, it’s critical that I’m able to connect all three of the areas together and provide the best possible medical advice for my clients. This program has given me the ability to do just that.”

When reflecting on the program, Anthony also highlights the importance of working individually and with others – something the CPMS program has provided him. “No matter what field you end up in, it takes all-hands-on-deck in order to provide the best possible outcome,” he says. And when it comes to communicating one-on-one with patients, “being a dietitian is a balance of using clinical judgement along with understanding the patient’s personal beliefs. Building rapport with patients and understanding their stories and connection to food is critical.”

Many Valuable Experiences 

As a student, Anthony has gained many valuable experiences – with a few that stick out. “I worked with a patient who had a very strong connection to food, and it was very rewarding to see them light up because they were able to understand and connect their diet to the diagnosis.” He also feels a great sense of pride working in community nutrition. “Whether it be at a food pantry, through WIC, while distributing food at Rentschler Field, or even just when calling people on the phone and educating them about basic nutrition, people are always thankful for the help that we are providing them.”

Everyone Has a Different Story

For students interested in a career in dietetics, Anthony recommends UConn’s Coordinated Program in Dietetics because of the wide range of experiences students are exposed to – and great faculty members and preceptors who “truly care about your success.”

And for students considering a career in dietetics, Anthony provides some advice: “be patient and listen. Every patient and client has a different story and a different reason as to why they are there. It is up to us as dietitians to use that information to provide the best possible outcome.”