Published on December 13, 2019 by Sarah Waller  

Samford University’s School of Public Health honored its 2019 cohort of dietetic interns at its annual awards ceremony and reception, Dec. 12, before fall commencement.

The ceremony marked the end of this 16-month, post-baccalaureate program, which fulfills the requirements from the Commission on Dietetic Registration to become eligible for the registered dietitian credentials.

The cohort consists of 19 interns, representing five states, and together, they comprise the School of Public Health’s fifth cohort to complete the program. The awards ceremony reflected the program’s personalized experience and purpose, including student speakers and the reading of the cohort’s chosen Bible verse for the year, 1 Corinthians 15:58. 

University President Andrew Westmoreland attended and shared words of encouragement. He told a story of a meeting he had attended just the day before with a health system that has multiple hospitals in the Birmingham area. The meeting discussed the system’s strategic plan for meeting the health needs of its surrounding counties, and Westmoreland noted that the reoccurring need for each hospital was to address the growing rates of obesity and diabetes. 

“I’m here to tell you that your labor will not be in vain because these are pressing issues for our society. You are now well equipped to be on the front lines of dealing with this,” Westmoreland said. “We applaud you, and we are grateful you have pursued your calling to take on this work.”

University President Andrew Westmoreland speaks to dietetic internship graduates.

Along with Westmoreland, the ceremony’s keynote speaker included Terri J. Raymond, president of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. “You are stepping into something that has changed over the years,” she said. “And you are our next generation of nutrition leaders, stepping right into that change.”

She encourages graduates to continue to pursue the basic principles, like knowledge, communication, and professionalism, explaining that these pillars will support them through their careers.  

In addition to completing the dietetic internship program, many graduates also pursued a master’s degree, earning either a Master of Public Health or Master of Science in nutrition.

The School of Public Health awarded two scholarships at the ceremony to Chandler Winstead and Sarah Mohan. Winstead was also named Samford’s Outstanding Dietetic Intern of the Year. Her name will now be submitted to the state association to be eligible for the Outstanding Alabama Dietetic Intern of the Year.