NvAND Member Spotlight: Ian Dodge
Ian Dodge completed his undergraduate degree at UNLV last year and is currently a Dietetic Intern and graduate student through the UNLV program. He is expected to finish his master’s degree in 2024 and his internship in August. Ian is also a part time faculty member at UNLV through the Department of Dance as his first degree many years ago was in Dance. He teaches two online Dance classes each semester. Ian has been a member of NvAND for 3-4 years when he first started taking nutrition courses. On the weekends, Ian also works at Sprouts part time. Ian was nominated for being someone who gives trustworthy nutrition advice. He is described as animated, enthusiastic, and passionate.
After finishing his internship, Ian plans to get his provision license, start studying for the RDN exam, and get a part-time clinical job while he is finishing his degree. His ultimate goal is to work in the community, specifically with the HIV/AIDS population.
Ian reflects that his fellow classmates refer to him as their “fairy godmother” because he is older, and this is his second career. He has already had a full-time career as a professional dancer. He comes with a little bit more life experience compared to his classmates. He said when you are in your 20s and not really sure about yourself it is helpful to have someone a little older than you on the journey that can speak to life experience. For his class and fellow dietetics interns, he said he is like a guru and can provide some really great advice on how to not be so anxious or nervous.
To make a difference once he becomes an RDN, Ian wants to work with the HIV/AIDS population. He says not a lot of RDs go into this area and there is a lot of misinformation about this disease. He says this disease is not created equal and a lot of people who have it are food insecure or homeless so he really wants to work in community to do what he can to help. He wants to help people get access to healthy food because with this disease if you do not have access to healthy food, it is that much more detrimental to a person’s health that is HIV/AIDS positive.
Ian wanted to remind fellow students to pause and remind ourselves why we got in this field in the first place. Are we getting bogged down or are we keeping that human connection?
In his spare time, Ian loves to see his friends and rest or focus on self-care by meditating or going to the gym. People and building relationships are a huge part of Ian’s life and being social.
Samantha M. Coogan, MS, RDN, CSSD, LD, FAND, is our member spotlight for January. In 2019, she was awarded the Emerging Dietetic Leader award from AND and was then made a fellow of AND. She is described as nurturing, driven, and having a strong desire to see people grow and better themselves.
Sam is the DPD director at UNLV and is a sports dietitian by trade. Sam has been a member of NvAND/its predecessor since 2010. She jumped right into the top of the leadership chain and served as President Elect, President, and Past President without serving any other board positions. Sam does recommend that members do try to serve some other position first before the president positions just to get your feet wet. Sam did enjoy her time as President because she grew so much as a leader and communicator. As President, she learned she had to delegate in order to get everything done. She feels it did make her a better leader not only for NvAND but also in her job as program director. Sam also liked being able to see what she had accomplished the following year as Past President and see things she had started be built upon.
Samantha reports she owes a lot of here career to UNLV. She stepped on campus in 2007 where she earned her Bachelor and Master’s degree and completed her dietetic internship. In 2011 she became a grad assistant, and eventually transitioned into the role of DPD director in 2016. She really enjoys being DPD director because she can bring the perspective of a former student who saw what worked or what did not work so well and has been able to make changes to the program based on this. It is a unique perspective because now as a faculty member, she can see the same stresses that her students are going through. She can connect with them really well because she had the same wins and losses. Plus, she is now getting to work with people she was previously under as a student. She reports it was a nice transition from student to colleague. She feels many students can appreciate this journey since so many students from UNLV were born and raised here in Las Vegas. This shows you do not have to branch out and move away from the state to be successful. Sam also likes seeing the “lightbulb” go on when she explains a concept to students and they all of a sudden get the whole picture.
Samantha feels she makes a difference as an RD to her students by being very transparent which makes her approachable not only while they are students but once they become RDs as well.
Communicating better is the most important skill Sam says she has developed. Sticking to rules she had set is one of the biggest lessons Sam learned as an instructor. She discovered that when she would be flexible or cave on a deadline, the students were not appreciative because it does not reward the students who submitted their work on time.
Getting involved as much as you can is Sam’s advice for students. The more that you get involved, the more comfortable you will feel in your internship. Sam shared that she was afforded many opportunities like becoming a fellow of AND by getting involved. Becoming a fellow of the Academy has opened a lot of doors and elevated her position as an expert in the field which would not have been possible without leadership experience, though she does say that serving as a president role was not required for this.
In her spare time Sam likes to listen to metal music, work out, watch movies, and appreciate tattoo art.
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