Estefania Herrera became an RD this past March and has been a member of NvAND for five years. Estefania is from Mexico and moved to the US her sophomore year in high school. She said that this has shaped her interest in wanting to assist marginalized and under-served communities. Estefania was nominated for working tirelessly to help underserved populations, including forming her own non-profit organization, Lime Nutrition. She is described as compassionate, giving, and thoughtful.
In addition to working on completing her master’s degree at UNLV, she works as a Graduate Assistant, works for her parent’s family-owned, tire shop, and has developed her own non-profit. As a GA, Estefania is responsible for precepting community rotations and serving as the clinical liaison, and assisting with classes.
Lime Nutrition in the non-profit that Estefania created earlier this year and has already served 30-32 clients, serving primarily homeless clients and sex-workers. Estefania created this non-profit with the encouragement of her father when she realized as an intern, she would like to do more to help marginalized groups. Estefania has faced various barriers and has had to teach herself about the unknown. She said there are plenty of moments of frustration and doubt on whether she should have really tried to set up Lime Nutrition, but she also says there are other moments that make everything worth it. The most challenging part of running her non-profit is getting people motivated. Having affordable MNT counseling opportunities for people sounds great in theory but in reality, it is very difficult. Convincing people it is a real service is a big challenge. Some people are actually not underserved and just do not want to pay a dietitian and other people feel since it is a free service then it is because it is not a good or competent dietitian offering the service. Time and effort are of course challenges as well. Estefania would love for anyone to reach out who is interested in collaborating with her or have any tips or advice.
Resilience is the most important skill Estefania has developed. Resilience being patient with herself, the process, the non-profit, and patients. She says it takes a long time to learn how to sit back and gather yourself in moments where things are not going your way, are hard, or are difficult to understand. You have to be able to encourage yourself to pick yourself up even when things do not go as planned.
Estefania encourages others considering starting their own business or non-profit to “go for it!” You can Google, investigate, and teach yourself a lot about opening a non-profit but the process itself is something that is unteachable and something that only you will be able to learn through the process. Just throw yourself to it and do it with intention.
When asked how she balances her GA, with her studies and working on her non-profit, Estefania laughed. She replied “I will be honest, there are times when it is not balanced”. She says you just have to prioritize what is most urgent. Sometimes it is school, other times it is the non-profit. You have to be okay with spreading yourself thin and somethings you have to compromise on and deem more important. I have learned how to let go of things and accept the outcome when I prioritize other things. I have to be compassionate and understanding with myself when I am not able to give every task my 100%.
In her spare time Estefania likes to cook. She is going back to her roots working with her grandma’s recipes and learning about new ingredients. She also likes to work on puzzles.
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