Student Testimonials

Getting to Know Our Students: Experiences and Goals from Leigh Renwick, Class of 2018

Journey to Dietetics

Leigh Renwick started her university journey in biology, but her passion for food turned her in another direction. Now in her final year of the UBC Dietetics Program, we sat down with Leigh to discuss what it’s like to be on the path to her dream career as a dietitian, which combines her passion for science, food, and creativity.

Leigh’s interest in food started at a young age. “I’ve always been really into food and cooking, ever since I can remember… when I was eight or nine years old I was hosting dinner parties for friends and family. But I never really considered pursuing nutrition professionally until later on.”

Leigh shows off her food and photography skills with a mango tart

“Out of high school, I ended up going to Queen’s to do a Bachelor’s in biology because I was interested in sciences. It wasn’t until quite a bit into my third or fourth year of my undergrad that I thought what is my next step?”

“I ended up taking a nutrition course at the very end of my university career, and the person who was teaching it was a dietitian. I asked him a lot about his job… I didn’t think it was possible that I could have the things that I was looking for in a career all together in one. Things like working with people [and] potentially working in a healthcare setting. I didn’t think that those could match with my love of cooking and food, as well as my other creative hobbies like blogging and photography.”

We asked Leigh about her experiences leading up to her application to the UBC Dietetics Program. One of the volunteer experiences she described was at Shapedown BC, a family-focused program that promotes healthy lifestyle development, as instrumental in her road to becoming a dietetics student and confirming she was on the right career path. It was there that she learned about the unique role of the dietitian on a diverse healthcare team.

My Shapedown BC experience was fundamental… I think it’s what really sealed the deal. Some of the things I liked about it were the overall mentality and philosophy of the dietitian being part of an integrated team. We were working with Kinesiologists, MDs, and psychologists; I thought that was a really positive way of bringing about behaviour change, not just from a nutrition perspective but looking at a whole person. I liked working with families, it wasn’t just focusing on the kids that were enrolled in the program… but also their parents”.

In the UBC Dietetics Program

“One of the things that I’ve really enjoyed this past year was being on the UBC dietetics volleyball team. That was a great way to hang out with my classmates outside of school and do something active and competitive in a fun way.”

Potluck worthy vegetarian tacos by Leigh

She expressed her appreciation for the close connection her class shares, I really enjoy how everybody supports each other. Everybody is working toward the same common goal and you can really feel that… We’ll hang out on weekends, or do potlucks… It’s definitely a very comforting, supportive environment to be a part of and I think that’s ultimately where you can learn your best.”

Leigh describes her favourite courses in the dietetics program “The clinical courses, [are] so applied, so hands on. You’re interested in the physiology and how you can actually develop a nutrition care plan. It feels like a culmination of all the courses that we had to take to get in there in the first place.”

Moving forward

We asked Leigh about her thoughts on her upcoming practice education year and her future plans.

I’m trying to keep my options open, I don’t want to go into next year with blinders on, because I think that we will be exposed to so many interesting areas. One thing that I’ve learned from talking to dietitians is they never end up where they thought they would.”

Although Leigh plans on keeping an open mind, she expressed interest in a unique area of dietetics. “I took several genetics courses for my bio degree, so I think having that perspective is unique and has led me to be interested in nutrigenomics and personalized nutrition care. That’s something that I would like to pursue a little bit more.”

When it comes to her practice education year, Leigh is excited for what the future holds. “I’m nervous about starting out, but I’m really looking forward to applying the knowledge I’ve gained in the classroom.”

Learn more about the UBC Dietetics Program and start your journey today by preparing your application

This article was written by current dietetics students Mylo Williamson, Una Trevillion and Lawren Pallot



Deciding to Apply

“I decided to apply to the program because I love sharing my passion for food and nutrition with other people. I want to inspire people to live healthier and eat healthier, and I believe that being a dietitian will help me to do just that.”

The Interview

“I was actually more nervous before the interview than during it. Because I had practiced answering interview questions at home, I was able to speak confidently and answer the questions as honestly as I could. I felt satisfied with my answers after the interview, and I knew at that point that I had stayed true to myself and I had done everything I could to convey my desire to be in the program.”

Advice to Potential Applicants

“Volunteer or job shadow with a dietitian to make sure that this career is the right one, and if it is, then do not give up and try your best with no regrets.”

3043215642_42e518d68d_zIn the Program

“I genuinely feel like it's a dream come true. My goal of being a dietitian was set the day I decided to apply to UBC. Getting the confirmation email saying 'congratulations, you're in' felt like nothing short of winning the lottery. Some days I'll still all of a sudden think, "I'm actually in the program and will be a dietitian very soon," and there's a moment of silence in my mind accompanied by a wide grin on my face.”

Advice to Incoming Students

“From the interview to get into the program to probably the end of your first year in the program, it's common to get the feeling of "wow, everyone else has so much more experience than me." Just remember that you were chosen because you have qualities that set yourself apart. You belong here because you bring something unique to the profession. Believe in yourself and you'll shine that much brighter as the days progress. Best of luck!”

Nutrition Care Module

“Having structured multi-week placements was great. When the preceptor was organized, had up-to-date readings available, and had a teaching/learning plan ready for their area, the placements were a great experience.”

Population and Public Health Module

“I was given lots of exposure to different RD roles never encountered before. There was a good balance between projects and experiences. It was so valuable to see the different mindset and "big picture" lenses used by community RD's and to focus on the population prevention and promotion aspects that are not encountered in acute care. I highly valued this module and feel that this module can expand your knowledge base.”

Management Module

“Spending time at multiple sites was good as it allowed me to get a feel for different production and tray delivery systems as well as observe differences between small and large sites.”

Research Module

“I appreciated the opportunity to take on the full spectrum of research activities (submitting to ethics, preparing an abstract for the DC conference, presenting our final work, etc) within a supportive environment.”


Highlights of the Practice Education Year

“Just being able to finally apply all of the knowledge that we have been learning throughout the past 4 years.”

“Meeting some great preceptors who have become my mentors.”

“The friendships made with other students, constantly challenging myself to be better, realizing that I can do it, I want to do it, and why I love dietetics.

“Traveling to a variety of places and working with different populations. Finding out which field of dietetics is right or not right for me.”

“Seeing my progress and increase in confidence. It felt particularly good when patients were grateful for the care and/or advice they were given.”

“The revelations at the end of it, realizing how much I have learned, not only in knowledge but about myself and about teaching others.”

“Overall, I am VERY satisfied with my internship experience and feel honoured to have been able to participate in the UBC dietetic internship program.”

“Even though internship is challenging, I have enjoyed every challenge and I feel that I have learned a lot this year both professionally and personally. Every challenging situation was a great learning experience for me, so personally, I wouldn't change anything about my internship experience.”