RDN Spotlight- Trinique Stallings, RD, LDN
What is your ethnicity/race? Did your family have any customs related to food?
Black American. I think our main custom is just having dinner together every Sunday.
Where did you go to school and complete your dietetic internship?
Why did you decide to choose nutrition and dietetics as a career?
In high school, I was a part of the Health Sciences "Magnet" (concentration) and we got the opportunity to do an internship at University of Maryland Medical Center. We shadowed different health professionals and I learned quickly that I did not want to become a nurse or a doctor. I had considered dietetics and I asked if I could shadow the dietitians there and that was something that had not been done previously. So I was given that opportunity and was very excited by the idea that food can be used to help people. So I decided to pursue [nutrition] college and just fell even more in love with it.
What was the biggest challenge for you in becoming a dietitian and how did you overcome it?
My time in the dietetic internship and after graduation. I'm sure everyone can attest to how trying the internship part can be. But I assumed that after that everything would be smooth sailing and that I'd get a great job once I got my RD. But it took me quite a while to find a job, while the other RDs I graduated with all seemed to find great positions right away. After a while I couldn't help but to wonder if my color or name had an impact on [getting hired for a job]. I knew that I was a very qualified and competent professional and I just couldn't understand why I couldn't even get one interview anywhere.
Have you had any mentors in your career? How have those mentors affected your career?
Definitely my nutrition professors. They are all so passionate and supportive when it comes to their students (I definitely recommend attending La Salle for their nutrition program!) Another former professor gave me the advice that it's not how you start, it's how you finish and that has always stuck with me since my first year of undergrad. I would really like to find a RD mentor of color, though, and I think Instagram has been a great way to connect to other RDs of color.
Why do you think diversifying the field of nutrition is important?
Because representation matters. I recently left a job where I worked in a school and I know for the students there (who are mostly black) it made a difference that I'm the one giving them different fruits and vegetables to try throughout the week, and asking them to try new foods and eating these things with them. They can see me and think “Hey, this is for me.”
What advice would you give a student of color interested in entering this profession?
Please, please join us! It really is a wonderful field and you have so many options and opportunities to help others and also make a living! Your/our people need us in this role.
Trinique lives in Philadelphia, PA where practices as a clinical dietitian. She was just accepted to Drexel University’s Human Lactation Consultant Program. You can find her on Instagram or on LinkedIn.
Trinique is one of the young professionals in the Diversify Dietetics Community who is taking advantage of our Diversify Dietetics mentorship program. If you’re a young professional of color (practicing 3 years or less) and you are interested in being matched with mentor for the 2018-2019 academic year, be sure to submit a mentee questionnaire. If you're a professional interested in being a mentor (all ethnicities and races of mentors are welcome!) please fill out our mentor questionnaire.