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ASU grad decided to study nutrition after her mom’s illness

Dahlia Stott in her graduation cap holding apples

ASU grad Dahlia Stott

December 27, 2019

Editor’s note: This is part of a series of profiles for fall 2019 commencement.

Graduating with a bachelor’s degree in nutrition (dietetics) this month, Barrett, The Honors College, student Dahlia Stott has made her mark on Arizona State University not only inside the classroom but in Undergraduate Student Government Downtown since 2017.  

She started off by representing her school, the College of Health Solutions, as a senator. When her term ended, Stott knew her time at the Senate was not finished. 

“I decided at the end of that school year that I wanted to help develop the next group of senators, so I ran for senate president,” Stott said. 

Through her role as president, she was able to direct the senators to become “leaders and go-getters.” 

Along with student government, Stott was also a Devils’ Advocate; she gave tours to potential ASU students. 

As she prepared to graduate, Stott reflected on her time at ASU and all that she learned along the way. 

Question: What was your “aha” moment, when you realized you wanted to study the field you majored in? 

Answer: I was first interested in learning about nutrition when my mom got sick for a long time and didn't get better until she stopped eating certain foods. I was able to take my first nutrition class at community college and in that class, I decided that I wanted to be a registered dietitian. Everything in that class made sense to me, and I enjoyed going to class every day. 

Q: What’s something you learned while at ASU — in the classroom or otherwise — that surprised you, that changed your perspective?

A: I learned a lot about different perspectives about life. I come from a fairly conservative family, where we didn't talk about politics or political issues. With moving to college, the different roles that I held, and being involved in USGD, I was able to learn more about different viewpoints and develop my own opinion about different topics. 

At first, I was afraid that if I didn't agree with my peers on a topic, they would not like me anymore. I have found out that people are open to hearing different opinions; I may not change their viewpoint but we can have a civil conversation and remain friends. 

Q: Why did you choose ASU?

A: There were a couple of reasons that I chose ASU. First, I could easily transition to ASU from the community college I was previously in. I came in as a unique student because instead of going to high school, I went to Paradise Valley Community College. So my college classes counted toward my high school diploma. 

Other colleges that I looked at wanted me to be a freshman in name and schooling. I would have to start in freshman classes and thus attend all four years at their institute. When I toured ASU, one of the staff from the College of Health Solutions sat down with me and explained that I would be taking junior level courses with pre-reqs. This would allow me to graduate in two years if I wanted to. Ultimately, I decided to attend ASU after praying about it. ASU felt like the right school to attend. 

Q: Which professor taught you the most important lesson while at ASU? 

A: I have learned a lot from each of my professors. I think that I learned the most from Professor Maureen McCoy. My interest in public health nutrition is fairly recent, and she has helped me understand what different programs are already available, how changes to SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, also known as food stampsaffect children and has encouraged me to think of different ideas. She has helped me understand what nutrition policy is and what different things could be changed. 

Q: What’s the best piece of advice you’d give to those still in school?

A: As a former First Year Success Coach, I would say go see your First Year Success Coach. They have a lot of great resources for freshmen, sophomores and transfer students. They don't turn away anyone from coaching even if you are not automatically in their system. 

In my first semester at ASU, I really struggled. I was overwhelmed with moving to a new place, trying to make friends and taking 19 credits. I wish that I had had someone to coach me through how to study for a class but also get involved with campus life.

Q: What was your favorite spot on campus, whether for studying, meeting friends or just thinking about life? 

A: My favorite spot on campus is the library study rooms. They really helped me focus, and I have some funny memories there. I often would go down there with the sun beating down and come out with it being pitch black. 

Q: What are your plans after graduation? 

A: I am currently applying to graduate programs across the country. I hope to get my master's in public health nutrition or a doctorate in nutrition to study more about food insecurity among children. Until then, I will be taking it slow for the holiday season and then will most likely be working as a Dietetic Technician Registered (DTR).

Q: If someone gave you $40 million to solve one problem on our planet, what would you tackle? 

A: I would want to use that money to develop different interventions for tackling food insecurity for families. I would then take the most successful intervention and bring it to Washington, D.C., so that I could speak to legislators about implementing the intervention across America. It's unfortunately not as simple as giving this money to people so that they can buy food. They need simple education about how to shop, where to get the best prices, how to store the food, how to prepare the food, etc.

Written by Carmen De Alba Cardenas, Sun Devil Storyteller

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