Alumnae/i Feature

Julia Navon '18MS, '18C Named Intern of the Year by Massachusetts General Hospital

Why did you decide to attend Simmons?

In 2013, I graduated from UMass Amherst with a degree in public health. I started working at a hospital in Boston where I did scheduling and quality improvement projects. I enjoyed the nutrition and health promotion aspect of public health and after working in the clinic, I realized that I wanted to do individualized patient care. I started to research schools around Boston and found Simmons' nutrition program which was a short walk from where I was working. I attended an information session and fell in love with the program!

What inspired you to pursue a career in Nutrition?

Ever since I was in high school I loved cooking and experimenting with healthy recipes. My mom was told that she had prediabetes when I was a teen and I helped her overhaul her diet, helped her cook healthy meals for the family, and increased her movement. This was the first time that I realized how much nutrition could impact someone’s life.

While I was studying public health, I learned about various nutrition programs and learned basic nutrition information. Once I started working in the hospital clinic I met a Registered Dietitian (RD) and was able to shadow her. After spending the day with an RD, it provided me with a sense of clarity and understanding of the role. Ever since that day I’ve been fixated on making nutrition my career.

What was it like receiving the accolade of Intern of the Year?

It was an honor and very humbling to be given the Louise Hatch award at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH). The Louise Hatch award is given to the intern(s) who display leadership skills, commitment to the profession of dietetics, and who have an empathetic and compassionate demeanor. I truly put every ounce of effort and passion into each rotation and I was ecstatic to see that my hard work paid off.

I also won the Dietetic Internship Iron Chef competition for my Coconut Red Curry Chicken recipe, which met the hospital's nutritional requirements for a “green” healthy recipe.

Tell us about presenting your thesis at the European Nutrition Conference.

Emily Trussler and Julia Navon with their presentation
Emily Trussler '18MS and Julia Navon '18MS, '18C with their presentation.

Emily Trussler '18MS, '18C and I examined the association between vitamin D deficiency and risk of prediabetes in Americans 50 years of age and older, using nationally-representative NHANES data. This was a cross-sectional analysis of three NHANES cycles. We found that Vitamin D status is significantly associated with risk of prediabetes in Americans 50 years of age and older.

Presenting at the European nutrition conference was an exciting opportunity and experience that I will never forget. We were able to present in front of scientists from all over the world from Norway to Bulgaria to Italy. It was incredibly insightful to hear these varying perspectives as well as to learn what kind of research is going on in these countries. I was surprised to see how advanced some countries are, while others still have a long way to go in terms of nutrition best practices. 

What do you find most rewarding about your work?

During my internship at MGH, the most rewarding part of the job was helping people make realistic and sustainable behavior changes. It was inspiring to watch people find the motivation within to make small changes to improve their health with nutrition. I also enjoyed helping people build a more positive relationship with food and their bodies.

What leadership skills did you learn at Simmons that have helped you succeed in your career?

At Simmons, I learned that leaders must be collaborative and welcome input from others. A collaborative approach is necessary because people have important ideas and everyone’s opinion should be heard. We had several group projects and presentations at Simmons that pushed me outside of my comfort zone and put me in leadership roles. These projects helped me gain confidence in myself as a leader and allowed me to become more comfortable speaking up in professional situations.

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