Priscilla Holmes, a graduate student in the Master of Science in Nutrition and Dietetic Internship, is from Traphill North Carolina. Priscilla is also one of our inaugural Beaver Scholars and she plans to graduate this May.
What aspects of your Appalachian undergraduate/graduate education best prepared you for your career?
I think that both my undergraduate and graduate education provided me with many tools to prepare me for my career. Some that really stand out to me are resilience, perseverance, and communication. To be honest, my educational experience was hard. Juggling work and many challenging science-based classes was difficult. However, I was encouraged by my professors and the desire to succeed. I believe that the heavy course load and faculty helped me to develop a strong work ethic which in turn taught me resilience and perseverance. Additionally, I volunteered in the community in my undergraduate years at Hunger and Health Coalition. This experience and working in research taught me how to communicate and work as a team effectively with people that may have very different communication styles, personalities, and life experiences and outlooks than me.
Why did you choose Appalachian as a prospective undergraduate/graduate student?
I did chose Appalachian State partially because it was in my home state of North Carolina and close to home. Realistically, I think that this is a consideration for many of us that pay our own way through our education. However, I also really love the Blue Ridge Mountains and the environment of the college. Growing up in a small and rural community, I was interested in working with this same population eventually. Going to Appalachian State allowed me to pursue a higher education that focused in many ways on applying my knowledge in a cultural setting similar to my future agenda. Additionally, I have always liked smaller educational environments because I think that the student-teacher relationship is so valuable to our learning experience. I really loved how Appalachian State was not incredibly large and most of my classes felt very personable.
Were you involved in any undergraduate and/or graduate research? If so, what was the topic (or topics) and who was your faculty mentor (or mentors)?
I was involved in graduate research under Dr. Laura McArthur within the Department of Nutrition. Our topic was on college food insecurity. Dr. McArthur has done a great deal of research in previous years on the prevalence of food insecurity on college campuses. During my time with her, we developed a food security college course for AppState students that taught information on food insecurity and skills to decrease prevalence in college students (i.e. budgeting, cooking, meal planning, and more). We then taught the course to a small pilot class and evaluated for effectiveness in decreasing food insecurity of college students and adjusted class structure for future semesters.
Describe your experiences in your department/program — what was the faculty like, how did they help you learn, mentor you, etc.?
Overall, my experience with the Department of Nutrition has been phenomenal. There may have been some bumps along the way which is to be expected. However, from my reflection over the past four years, I can say with confidence that my professors truly care about their students and wish for us to succeed. They have always been available to meet one-on-one and answer any questions or discuss any concerns I may have had with my courses. They have also always made me feel very comfortable and not intimidated to approach them. To this day, I still have some faculty that I stay in touch with and keep up to date on life and my graduate internship.
What opportunities did the Beaver Scholarship create that you might not have had otherwise?
I don’t know that I would have been able to go to graduate school and pursue my Masters of Science and Dietetic Internship without the Beaver Scholarship. As I mentioned previously, I paid and worked my way through my undergraduate schooling. However, these past two years in graduate school have been too busy for me to hold a job.
What stands out in your mind when you think back to your time as an App State student?
This sounds silly but I think of feeling on top of the world (on the parkway, during the football games surrounded by the excitement of the crowd, running around downtown in the evenings with friends, and the feeling of excitement when the weather finally warms up and you’re almost to the end of spring semester). I also think of the joy of friendship. I met some of my best friends in college as well as some amazing professors that really helped me through some challenging times in my life.