Meet Morgan McDonald

USJ has given me the opportunity to learn from experienced and knowledgeable staff that really care about student success, not only in the classroom but also with gaining experience within the field. The faculty is really good about addressing student concerns and ensuring all students are getting the most out of our education. I have also had multiple opportunities to dive into topics within the nutrition field in which I have an interest. Two examples were my field experience course and independent study, the latter of which I was able to take advantage through the Honors Program.

I wrote a 20-page paper on a topic of my choice with one of my nutrition professors. My paper was focused on the ketogenic diet and its impacts on epilepsy and possible impacts on autism. Due dates and other assignment details were decided between me and the professor. The paper was a summary of research articles and comparing the results. The ketogenic diet is already proven to help treat epilepsy, and the articles I used in my paper further proved this. As far as the ketogenic diet treating autism symptoms, there is a very limited amount of research and half of the articles I used in my paper are based on animals (therefore, not very applicable to humans). The results supported that the diet helped some aspects of autism symptoms, but I know more research is needed.

My 499 was a field experience course, which was essentially like an internship. Students and the professor running the class would try to find a site that matched the student’s interests. Then once a site was assigned, the student would complete 8 hours a week at that site. I did my 499 with Dr. Melissa Brown working with the Athlete Nutrition Advising Program (ANAP). This involved attending team nutrition seminars, helping out with the fuel cart, making educational materials, observing athlete nutrition counseling sessions, etc. In addition, I completed a research project with Dr. Brown that focused on evaluating staff nutrition knowledge in group homes housing Special Olympic athletes. I also went to the Gengras Center 4 hours a week. Here, I mainly assisted the dietitian in running nutrition workshops for the students.

I feel my experience in the Honors Program, as well as in-depth interaction with my professors and the Center for Academic Excellence (CAE), have been so important to my success at USJ. I don’t know if there are many schools I could’ve gone to where I would’ve had this kind of access to my professors and experiential learning. The courses have been challenging but intellectually stimulating, and I feel I’m in a really good position to excel in my field once I graduate.