The Academy’s Foundation is committed to ensuring that diversity, inclusion, equality and accessibility are priorities in our annual efforts. As part of our ongoing series featuring recent scholarship, award and grant recipients, the Foundation recognizes Nader Hamdi, a recipient of a 2020 Foundation scholarship.
“Knowing that the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics [Foundation] sees and supports me as a first-generation college student, child of immigrants, and queer person means more to me than I can express. It is with the Foundation’s support that I am able to very proudly maintain my commitment to promoting food justice.”
2020 Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Foundation Scholarship Recipient
Hamdi, who identifies as nonbinary and his preferred pronouns are he/they, was recognized for their graduate studies in human nutrition and dietetic internship at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Born and raised in Sacramento, Calif., after his/their family emigrated to the U.S. from Amman, Jordan, Hamdi was the first in their family to graduate from college with a degree in clinical nutrition and a minor in women’s studies from the University of California – Davis. Hamdi worked in a Federally Qualified Health Center, applying their experience with poverty and marginalization to address food insecurity and non-medical resource needs of low-income pediatric patients and their families. Hamdi now works for Illinois Cooperative Extension and will begin a Ph.D. program in the fall. Below, Hamdi shares more about his/their professional goals and their vision for the future of our profession.
Why did you decide to pursue a career in nutrition and dietetics? Did you experience any barriers to pursuing your education?
Growing up in a vibrant and diverse community like South Sacramento was very formative for me, so finding a career where I would be able to promote justice and serve the community was one of my top priorities. After taking coursework in nutrition, I decided to pursue dietetics because I was able to draw very clear connections between social justice and community/public health nutrition. The most significant challenge that I faced in pursuing an education was financial in nature. I had to work upwards of 40 hours per week as a student and this still would not have been sufficient to cover tuition, including the cost of living and health care expenses, without the aid of several grants, scholarships and other awards designated for low-income students.
Now that you have graduated, what is next for you in your professional journey? What are your career goals?
Now that I have completed my dietetic internship and master’s degree at the University of Illinois, I will start a Ph.D. program in nutrition on the East Coast this fall. I plan to continue my training in community-based participatory research while expanding my nutritional epidemiology skill set. I will research the ways that facets of our food system influence health disparities and use data to create and improve nutrition programs and policies to promote health equity. I am enthusiastic about pursuing a career where I’m able to merge research, outreach and service, while also mentoring and training dietetics students and interns. Regardless of the direction I take after my Ph.D., I am excited to remain active in the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
What is your vision for the future of the nutrition and dietetics profession?
My vision for the future of nutrition and dietetics begins at its foundation: the Academy. I believe that the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics has worked hard to be inclusive and equitable; however, there will always be more work to do. My vision for the future of nutrition and dietetics is a workforce of dietitians representing a diverse host of backgrounds, identities and experiences. This especially includes Middle Eastern and Arab, Black, Latinx and Indigenous dietitians and dietitians from underserved communities.
In your opinion, what can other Academy members and credentialed practitioners do to better support LGBTQIA+ individuals within the profession?
Listen and learn from your LGBTQIA+ colleagues and students. Create safe spaces for members of the community by introducing yourself (or signing your emails) with your pronouns and visibly aligning yourself with LGBTQ-affirming groups within your organization or institution. Strive to create and offer mentorship, education and leadership/professional opportunities to LGBTQIA+ students, interns and employees. Actively speak up against all forms of racism and homophobia, in every setting, every day. Set an example for your colleagues by offering some of your time, skills, and/or resources to community-based LGBT centers and organizations.
Congratulations again to Nader Hamdi and to all Foundation scholarship, award and grant recipients. The Foundation celebrates and supports each other’s differences. Our goals as an organization include building a diverse workforce that is representative of the members we serve and cultivating organizational and professional values of equity, respect, civility and anti-discrimination.
If you are interested in learning more about Foundation funds that support and promote diversity and inclusion, please email firstname.lastname@example.org. Explore the Academy’s Diversity and Inclusion Professional Resource Hub for resources, spotlights and other news.