Nutrition and Food Science Scholarships at UDC Delivers Desired Results

To enhance UDC’s American Dietetic Association-accredited Nutrition and Food Science Program, and at the request of the University of the District of Columbia (UDC), in 2001 CECHE established an annual nutrition scholarship program at the university’s Nutrition and Food Science program in the Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences.

The University of the District of Columbia is the only university in the Washington area that offers Didactic Program in Dietetics (DPD).  UDC serves a culturally diverse population and, thus, is in a unique position to advance the training and skills of culturally diverse dietetic practitioners as the public land grant institution.  The Nutrition and Food Science program has consistently been successful in recruiting freshmen for the program but unable to retain the recruits through completion.  The probable cause for this student attrition is financial constraints.  CECHE’s scholarship funds help recruit and retain academically excelling students per year.


The program objectives are to:

  • Strengthen the productive partnership with community organizations to seek scholarship funding and increase student enrollment.
  • Establish annual scholarship for two students in the Nutrition and Food Science program.
  • Network efforts with the District of Columbia Public School System to identify and recruit and retain students for the Nutrition and Food Science Program.

The scholarships are awarded under two categories: student recruitment and student retention.  The student recruitment efforts are directed towards attracting new students to the Nutrition and Food Science Program whereas the student retention scholarship facilitate to retain the students already enrolled in the program.  The Director of the Nutrition and Food Science Program Dr. Prema Ganganna, in collaboration with Dr. Rachel Petty, Dean, College of Arts and Sciences, University of the District of Columbia has established cooperative efforts with the District of Columbia Public School System in recruiting one eligible student for the Nutrition and Food Science program.  Wide scale publicity and recruitment will be conducted.  To facilitate student retention, additional scholarships are awarded to the students with the highest GPA in the program.  The eligibility criteria for the new recruit are: resident of the District of Columbia; a minimum 2.5 Grade Point Average (GPA); motivated to pursue a career option in the field of Nutrition or Food Science; establish need for financial assistance; submit a short essay on his/her “future plans of action as a nutritionist in the community.”

The criteria for the second category are: continuation at in the Nutrition and Food Science Program; highest GPA and/or in the Dean’s list during the previous academic year and: establish need for financial assistance. An advisory committee consisting of the faculty of the Nutrition and Food Science Program screens and awards the scholarships for eligible candidates.

Aimed at stimulating student enrollment and retention, CECHE’s Nutrition Scholarship Program at the University of the District of Columbia (UDC) has done both over the past five years.  The university’s Nutrition and Food Science Program has seen a 62 percent increase in enrollment since the scholarships were introduced in 2001, from 19 to 58 students (see table), and an equally impressive increase in retention.   To date, 34 UDC nutrition and dietetics majors have received scholarships as part of the CECHE initiative, and it has helped to reach more students and retain almost 90 percent of the students enrolled in the program.

In addition, in 2004, the scholarship program facilitated the awarding of a 10-year accreditation to the Nutrition and Food Science Program by the American Dietetic Association’s Commission on Accreditation for Dietetic Education. In response, UDC’s Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences anticipates starting an internship cum master’s program in nutrition and dietetics (with emphasis on public policy, communication and clinical experience) to comply with the recommendations of the Commission on Dietetic Registration’s task force, which requires a graduate degree to become a registered dietitian. Meanwhile, UDC looks forward to maintaining the momentum generated by the scholarship program and its promise of professional challenge and financial assistance.

2006-2007 scholarship recipients

Four UDC students were awarded CECHE scholarships for the 2006-2007 academic year.

Vera Braga:  A senior majoring in dietetics, Ms. Braga has extensive research and academic experience in her chosen field, as well as a master’s degree from Brazil,.  Her long-term goal is to complete her baccalaureate degree in dietetics at UDC and pursue graduate studies in the field of nutrition, after which she would like to work with communities in effectively using diets to prevent canceror to provide nutritional support to cancer survivors.

Mabel Hernandez:  A recent immigrant from Columbia, Ms. Hernandez came to the United States to pursue a better life and build a family.  Intent on becoming a registered dietitian, she has a graduate degree in nutrition from Columbia and is pursuing a second baccalaureate degree in the field to meet the accreditation standards in dietetics. 

Charmaine Jones
:  A senior in the dietetics program, Ms. Jones’ goal is to become a sports dietitian.  In 2007, she served as president of the UDC Student Dietetic Association, organizing the university’s first annual Nutrition & Wellness Expo in celebration of National Nutrition Month.  Currently, she is honing her skills as a political action committee assistant at the American Dietetic Association’s Government Relations Office in Washington, D.C.

Rhea F. Williams:  Ms. Williams is a senior majoring in dietetics.  Upon completion of the program, she is planning to pursue a dietetic internship and work with cancer patients as a registered dietitian.  Currently, she is president of both the UDC Student Dietetic Association and the group Minorities in Agriculture, Natural Resources and Related Sciences.

2004-2005 scholarship recipients

Beth C. Burchard: Recruited to UDC’s Nutrition and Food Science baccalaureate program in 2003, Ms. Burchard’s long-term goal is to work as a registered dietitian in the Washington, D.C. area. In view of the nationwide epidemic of overweight, she hopes to focus her practice on weight management, physical fitness and diet- and lifestyle-related illnesses.

Mercedes M. Laudano
: A part-time student with the Nutrition and Food Science Program since 2003, Ms. Laudano aims to work as a dietitian, conducting research as well as servicing clients in the field of developmental disabilities.


Christine A. Hanson: Ms. Hanson joined the Nutrition and Food Science Program in 2005 with a bachelor’s degree in English and a master’s in health and fitness management. She is a certified nutrition specialist and a personal trainer. Her desire to pursue a second bachelor’s degree is driven by her dream of starting a private practice in personal training and weight loss management.

Denise Lyn Tyree
: Ms. Tyree joined the Nutrition and Food Science Program in 2003. She intends to pursue a dietetic internship and a graduate degree in public health after her graduation in 2006. Her long-term goal is to work as a health inspector to set occupational standards for food safety and to educate the public about proper food handling and food safety.

Shanette D. Jenkins: A part-time student in the Nutrition and Food Science Program since 1999, Ms. Jenkins expects to graduate in 2007 to pursue a career as a nutritionist with the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) or the Food and Drug Administration.

Rebecca J. Salus
: A 2003 scholar, Ms. Salus was also awarded a 2004-05 scholarship to enable her to participate in the American Dietetic Association’s 2nd Annual Leadership Institute in St. Petersburg, Fla. One of 400 member leaders selected out of 70,000 for this integrated, intensive, multi-format certificate-training program, she expects to strengthen her leadership skills, especially as a member of UDC’s Nutrition Club, which she hopes to help transform into a “Student Dietetic Association.”

Constance Addai-poku
: Ms. Addai-poku has been with the Nutrition and Food Science Program since 1999 and plans to graduate in spring 2006. Her goal is to work as a food inspector at USDA or the District of Columbia Consumer and Regulatory Affairs.

2001-2003 scholarship recipients

The scholarship program began in the spring of 2001, and the first scholarships awardees were Erica Hudson and Austin Alexis Kimelia.  Lisa Bethea, Deca Nicole Cate , and Kathleen McGrath were the 2002 scholars. 2003 scholarships recipients included: Becky Salus, Lisa Martinez, Abdallah Mkanda and Erica Lynne Hudson.

Prema Ganganna, Ph.D., Director, DPD Program
Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences
University of the District of Columbia


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