Future dietitian thrives in the classroom and on campus

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Ainsley Beck

Future dietitian thrives in the classroom and on campus

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Meet Health Hero and college peer advisor Ainsley Beck

Ainsley Beck is a third-year student majoring in nutrition, with a minor in human development and family sciences.

What interested you about becoming a dietitian? And why did you choose OSU?

Nutrition has always been a big part of my life. I grew up being very particular about my food, and so I had to learn to embrace variety in my diet. I also chose to follow a vegan diet in my sophomore year of high school, which led to a focus on ensuring I was getting enough nutrients. I also began cooking for myself a lot more, which developed a passion for food.  

When I found out nutrition was an option for a major, and learned what a dietitian was, I could not imagine a more perfect fit for myself.  

I chose OSU because of the high-quality academics offered here. I truly feel every professor and educator on this campus wants me to succeed, and the resources I have been provided as a student have been invaluable to my success.

It also helps that both my parents went here, and I have been a Beaver my whole life.

Have you had to overcome any challenges in your academic journey?

Mental health has been a challenge with my academics since high school. Whether it was struggling to manage my anxiety, or having periods of depression, I have learned that taking my mental health seriously is fundamental to my success as a student.  

Counseling & Psychological Services (CAPS) has been instrumental to my life here at Oregon State University, as well as the providers in Student Health Services taking my needs seriously and advocating for me.

Do you participate in campus or community clubs or organizations?

My most notable involvement has been as president of the Nutrition and Dietetics Club. As president, I noticed that our club was not getting the traction or attendance it needed, and with the help of my advisor, Neilann Horner, and other NDC officers, we launched a new experiential learning campaign titled Food Trail.  

Featuring five events taking place in fall 2023, the main goal is to expand our club to all majors and highlight the role nutrition plays in our community and with other disciplines. I can proudly say that we went from having a handful of attendees in spring term to having 29 participants at our first Food Trail event.  

We are also holding a pitch competition at the conclusion of fall term to allow NDC members to provide service to a community organization of their choice. Whoever is successful will recruit other NDC members to join their service project.

I am so incredibly thankful for the learning opportunities and growth I have gained through this club and cannot wait to share what we accomplish in the following terms.

Other communities include my sorority, Kappa Kappa Gamma. Not only has this given me a wonderful community of women that I can rely on, but it also has allowed me to hold leadership roles and develop professionally and personally. 

I served as secretary in fall 2022, learning many technical and organizational skills I still use today, and as Panhellenic Delegate the calendar year of 2023, fostering community relations within the entire Panhellenic Community.

I also served as a recruitment counselor for Panhellenic for Primary Recruitment 2023 and gained experience facilitating a group of 23 girls through the recruitment process. I also frequently participate in both KKG philanthropies as well as other chapters across campus philanthropy events.

Lastly, a big shoutout to the College of Health advising team for selecting me as one of their peer advisers in the Office of Student Success. This has allowed me to work closely with the college and meet so many students across each major. My development as a student would not have been the same without them.

Have you participated in undergraduate research? If so, what did you learn from the experience?

I was an undergraduate researcher in the Dallas Lab winter and spring terms in 2023. I worked under my mentor, Noom Sutantawong, with her research in bovine whey proteins to determine how long they stay intact in the digestive system. This was to determine if the benefits of whey were being received by humans.  

This opportunity allowed me to gain experience in a lab setting and taught me fundamental writing and presentation skills specific to research. Currently, I am in the beginning stages of starting research for my Honors thesis and finalizing my topic.

Ainsley Beck

Have you completed a nutrition internship? If so, where and what did you learn from the experience?

Over the summer, I was selected as an African Heritage Community Outreach Fellow in Multnomah County through the Moore Family Center Fellowship Program. This experience allowed me to work in SNAP-Education and get hands-on experience in community nutrition.  

Through this, I worked on a series of projects, including researching and putting together a presentation for World Jollof Rice Day. I also created a series of social media posts that were shared to Food Hero social media accounts.  

Other projects included designing a worksheet and creating a recipe for Food Hero. My worksheet is titled Whole Grains Land, which takes elementary school children through a maze to “unlock” different African Heritage whole grains. At the end, there’s a code to pull up a whole grains bowl recipe. The recipe I created is a Kamut Breakfast Bowl, and it should be live on Food Hero soon!  

Lastly, I did several community events where I would prepare and bring recipe taste tests, as well as resources, to farmer’s markets, food pantries and other community events. The function of these events was to showcase healthier alternative recipes as well as get the African Heritage Program visible to Multnomah County.  

I also was provided with many opportunities to enhance my professional development, such as getting to take charge and plan my own projects, creating training materials for a new hire, and handling communications with community members for my supervisor. A big shoutout to Meilana Charles, my supervisor, for making this such a rewarding experience.

Have you received a scholarship? If so, how has it affected your life and your studies?

I have been fortunate to receive scholarships that have supported my academic endeavors. OSU-specific scholarships I have received are the Wayne R. and Jule Claire Spesock Memorial Scholarship, the Helen McDowall Memorial Scholarship, the Warren & Frederica Schad Scholarship for Undergraduates, and the OSU Honors College Tuition Support Scholarship.  

Hometown, local scholarships I have been awarded are the Duncan Ward Memorial Scholarship and the Reif Family Scholarship.

What do you think of your experience at OSU and in the College of Health so far?

My experience with OSU has been incredible. I never feel a shortage of opportunities to develop both personally and professionally, and I love the atmosphere of the campus.  

The College of Health specifically has been phenomenal at making me feel like I have a place and that I am meant to be here.  

From advisors asking me about my day and remembering little things I tell them, to the dean truly wanting to get to know his students and their needs, I always feel like I have a voice in this college.

It helps that my instructors and professors in the College of Health are supportive of their students and passionate in what they teach. We have an incredible and diverse list of faculty in the college and in each major, and I have learned so much from several of them.

If you are unsure of what you want as a major, I highly recommend taking the dean’s advice and getting on the Highway to Health.

What are your post-college dreams?

My post-college dream is to become a registered dietitian with a focus on infant and maternal nutrition. This specific stage of life, for both the infant and mother, is incredibly important, and in turn very complicated.  

Not only does this stage fascinate me, but I also want to help mothers feel confident in their decisions and abilities to give their child the best nutritional foundation.  

I added a human development and family sciences minor due to this interest because I believe understanding how humans develop and how families function will be useful to me being a compassionate and well-informed provider.  

I still have my master’s and dietetic internship to complete after undergrad, but I am excited for all I will continue to learn and experience. I could not have gotten to this point or any upcoming point without Oregon State and the College of Health.