For my STEP Signature Project, I enrolled in a Plant-Based Nutrition Certification course through eCornell. The course was entirely online, and consisted of three two-week sessions which focused on different pillars of Plant-Based Nutrition. The material was taught through online lectures by healthcare professionals, discussion posts, and quizzes.
While completing the certification course, I found my views about nutrition to be somewhat challenged. While I had already heard of and mostly understood the benefits of a plant-based diet, I was unaware of the true nutritional and environmental consequences of the Western diet. Food plays a massive role in culture and togetherness; so learning that the food and eating habits that the American culture is based on have severe detrimental effects was a difficult reality to face.
Over the six weeks of courses, I was repeatedly reminded of the magnitude of the problem at hand, relating to both our individual health and to the health of our planet. As a result of this course, I have transformed into a more knowledgeable, introspective, and conscious individual. I understand that the choices I make, however small, may have a dramatic impact on my health and even on the environment.
Being that the entirety of my STEP Signature Project took place in an online learning environment, it provided me with the unique opportunity to learn from and engage with students and teachers from all around the world. Each two-week lesson consisted of several online discussions, similar to what many online classes have on Carmen here at OSU. The discussion prompt would typically ask for a summary of a topic that we had covered in depth that week, while also asking students to expand upon the topic and provide their own insight. Being that many topics in nutrition are contentious, the content of the responses varied dramatically from student to student.
While students were required to post their own response to the discussion prompt, they were also encouraged to respond to others’ posts. This online discussion provided a productive dialogue among individuals who came from any walk of life. Some were health care professionals and others were just beginning their health journey – and many more were somewhere in between the these two points. We were all learning the same content, but the opportunity to see how each individual interpreted and internalized the material was a truly unique learning experience.
Having the chance to learn from health care professionals from across the globe provided me with immense insight into the health epidemic at hand. Being able to discuss what I learned with likeminded individuals challenged me to be more receptive to new ideas, more empathetic, and more knowledgeable in my field of study.
I am currently studying Nutrition in Industry with a minor in Public Policy; my goal is to use my education to positively impact communities that are lacking access to healthy, fresh produce and to nutrition education. Oftentimes nutrition education involves telling people things they don’t exactly want to hear about their health and lifestyle – taking part in this certification course has enhanced my communication skills, specifically when speaking with people who may have differing views than I do. I think this skill will be beneficial throughout my career. Additionally, I am now fully versed in a whole new sector of nutrition that many people don’t know much about. I believe that this new knowledge on Plant-Based Nutrition will make me an attractive candidate for future healthcare positions, and make me more of a reliable and educated healthcare professional in the future.