Alumnae/i Feature

Contributing to a Healthier Community: Brittany Barrett '18C Finds Passion in Nutrition

What inspired you to pursue a career in nutrition?

I knew I wanted to be a dietitian when I met “B” while interning with Cooking Matters, a program that teaches cooking and nutrition classes to low-income children, families, and adults. B’s poor health was concerning to me — she had pre-diabetes and was clinically obese at ten years old. During our first cooking class, I taught B how to make yogurt parfaits with apples, blueberries, and honey.

B seemed unengaged and said that she disliked all fruits and vegetables because they tasted like ‘mush.’ If I wanted to improve her health, I needed to make the ‘mush’ interesting. Knowing she liked pastries, I quickly cored an apple, sliced it into horizontal discs, placed the blueberries and Greek yogurt between two slices, and called it an apple doughnut. To my surprise, B ate the entire fruit concoction with satisfaction and eagerly brought the ingredients home to recreate with her family. That day, I felt inspired – if I could help one child enjoy a healthy snack over alternative energy-dense foods, perhaps I could make a sustainable impact on her health and the health of others.

Tell us about your experience at Simmons.

My experience at Simmons in the Didactic Program in Dietetics thoroughly prepared me for my dietetic internship and job opportunities thereafter. The clinical immersion, the simulations in NUTR 331, and the DICAS preparation course (NUTR 301) were all very helpful in training students for real-life situations and equipping us with the knowledge to be successful.

I felt very supported by all of my professors, but Dr. Prelack went above and beyond to support me in my dietetics journey. I remember sitting in her office spring semester, feeling overwhelmed by the dietetic internship application and match rates at my top choices. She said, “I think you can do this, Britty,” and my mindset shifted from intimidation to determination. She supported me through the process, from start to end, and I am very grateful.

I feel like I can make a positive impact doing what I love each day.

Is there a specific aspect of nutrition that you are especially passionate about?

After taking "MNT" and "Practice of Clinical Dietetics," I knew I was passionate about clinical nutrition. I loved learning how nutrition impacts the body and influences its ability to heal. I felt that the collaborative and interdisciplinary care that exists in many clinical settings was an optimal learning environment and a setting where I could grow professionally for years to come.

Tell us about your current position.

I am currently a Health Coach at Virta Health. I work primarily with people with type 2 diabetes and implement a low carbohydrate, well-formulated ketogenic diet to address the root cause of diabetes. In doing so, we are able to improve health outcomes, including A1C reduction, medication elimination, weight loss, reduction of adverse cardiovascular disease risk factors, and much more. The position is a wonderful combination of clinical care, evidence-based practice, and direct patient interaction. My patients and collaborative team inspire me, and I feel like I am positively impacting many people’s lives each day.

How did it feel to receive the accolade of Outstanding Student from the Colorado Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics?

I felt honored. More so, I felt especially grateful for my professors, preceptors, and peers who continuously challenged me and pushed me to learn more, step out of my comfort zone, fully embrace ten months of clinical immersion, and be ambitious. Receiving this award further motivates me to practice this mindset in my everyday work. I hope to someday pay forward the wonderful mentorship I've received to aspiring dietitians.

What do you find most rewarding about this work?

I feel like I can make a positive impact doing what I love each day. I love collaborating with people, seeing their “ah-ha” moments, and empowering them with tools and confidence to take charge of their health through food. Professionally, I appreciate how I am able to grow in a field that is continuously evolving — there is always something new to learn and a new horizon to explore. I am excited to continue my nutrition journey, inspire others, and contribute to a healthier community.

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