Academy Foundation Blog

Meet Our 2021 Advancing Diversity in Dietetics Scholarship Recipients: Gabriela Naveda and Latina Robinson

By Foundation Admin posted 08-26-2021 11:00 PM


Our Foundation has awarded two first of its kind Advancing Diversity in Dietetics Scholarships to Academy student members, Gabriela Naveda and Latina Robinson. Naveda and Robinson will receive $25,000 each for the 2021-2022 academic year, representing the largest financial scholarships ever awarded by the Foundation. These scholarships were made possible through an anonymous donor and are rooted in a commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion.

Gabriela Alexandra Naveda, LMT

Gabriela Alexandra Naveda, LMT


Gabriela, originally from Quito, Ecuador, is graduating from the Coordinated Graduate Program in Dietetics at the University of Illinois at Chicago on December 2021 and she will be taking the board exam to become a registered dietitian soon after. Gabriela’s passion for promoting a balanced, healthy lifestyle and equitable access to healthcare for all is the result of a life-long pursuit to engage in work which supports a high quality life for all people. One of the main factors that can define a high quality life is exceptional or well-managed health where proper nutrition is at the apex. Antiracist policies at institutional and systemic levels still need to be implemented to deconstruct the contemporary oppressive byproducts, overt and nuanced, that have resulted from generations of racist violence in the history of humankind, which disproportionately harm communities of color. By removing the intentional and unintentional barriers to the access of resources which are pivotal for exceptional health, such visiting a dietitian or gaining the time, energy, power, and funds to explore various facets of health, individuals from marginalized groups gain a higher likelihood to consistently experience high quality lives.

By compassionately and firmly addressing racist policies, structures, or commentary as often the only Latinx individual in a professional space, Gabriela hopes to normalize civil discourse surrounding the issues of equity and racism, encourage self-examination of implicit biases, and inspire a yearning for continued systemic change. Gabriela believes that by doing our part to do the work of dismantling racism, future generations may be more likely experience a more inclusive, empathetic world where exceptional health and healthcare is a right and not a privilege.

Gabriela mentors BIPOC youth, actively engages in strategies with various organizations to influence or implement equitable legislation, and she is the founder and main facilitator of a weekly group, BIPOC Equity Network, dedicated to providing connection and support to BIPOC professionals across various fields who are often one of few people of color or the only person of color in their company, institution, or organization. Gabriela also runs a private practice focused on manual and massage therapy, for 10+ years, is an officer for Latinos and Hispanics in Dietetics and Nutrition (LAHIDAN), and manages a residential property focused on providing housing for adults experiencing transitional phases. While in her graduate program and working full-time, Gabriela needed to assist her family in managing new health challenges, among other difficulties. This led to some challenges of maintaining a healthy balance, both mentally and emotionally, on her part, but Gabriela shared she was able to usually achieve this state of well-being by staying optimistic, grateful, and persistent. Gabriela hopes to continuously share encouraging words and insightful lessons with friends, family, students, patients, and peers alike.

What the 2021 Advancing Diversity in Dietetics Scholarship means to you?

Receiving the Foundation’s 2021 Advancing Diversity in Dietetics Scholarship will help me manifest my dream to significantly improve health outcomes in my community by allowing me to redirect more of my energy to endeavors to help make this possible, such as: supporting more individuals from marginalized groups to become dietitians, energizing movements to improve legislation affecting the field of dietetics, and contributing to the innovation and research fueling the next wave of best practices and therapeutic approaches in dietetics. The scholarship offers me the financial and institutional support necessary to accomplish this mission; I will be able to have more time to take care of my family, rest, and make my scholarly interest in nutrition and my interest in the well-being of my community more at the center of my work, because I will be able to afford to do so. By receiving this scholarship, I hope to initiate a journey of greater involvement with the Academy where I can continuously elevate the Academy’s goal in supporting members of marginalized communities to join the ranks of incoming dietitians in greater numbers so that we, as health practitioners and leaders in the healthcare field, more greatly reflect the communities we serve.

How did you learn about the availability of the Foundation scholarship that you received?

On April 5, 2021 I received an email from the Academy Foundation informing me that based on my responses for the Foundation’s general scholarship, I may be eligible for this additional scholarship opportunity. I learned about the Foundation’s general scholarship through an email from the Assistant Director of the Coordinated Program in Dietetics at my school, Tina Lam, and the Director of the Coordinated Program at my school, Shayna Oshita (University of Illinois at Chicago).

What motivated you to apply?

I applied for the scholarship because the purpose of the scholarship seemed to intimately align with my concerns and endeavors in the field of dietetics, as well as my vision for the future of dietetics. The scholarship directly acknowledged a systemic problem and sought to address it by offering substantial financial and institutional support to individuals from marginalized groups seeking to succeed as dietitians who are also aiming to catalyze systemic changes in the field. I seek to connect with institutions dedicated to actively promoting and initiating equity and inclusion in healthcare. I feel very connected to the mission of this scholarship and it was an exciting moment, bringing me much hope, to see that this type of scholarship was available! Even though I felt tired and overworked around the time that the scholarship became available, I had to apply.

What advice do you have for your colleagues about seeking out and applying for Foundation funding opportunities?

My advice is to be sure that the purpose of the scholarship intimately aligns with your own biggest mission, as a professional and as a person. This is important because, if you work a lot or have a tight schedule for other reasons, it will take a huge motivator to carve out time to apply for these opportunities and very likely miss out on sleep. I recommend to become intimately acquainted with what deeply motivates you to be in this profession so that opportunities to get you closer to accomplishing your dreams are easier to identify and the motivation to “do the hard thing” flows more easily.

Latina Robinson

Latina Robinson


Latina will be completing her Dietetic Internship and Masters of Science in Nutrition at Ouachita Baptist University in Arkadelphia, Ark.. Within her application, Latina shared that she has faced the hardship of barely making ends meet yet still maintaining good grades while caring for her son as a single mother. In 2021, while working as both a certified pharmacy technician at Kroger Pharmacy and as a diet clerk at Arkansas Children’s Hospital, she caught the COVID-19 virus from a co-worker leaving her without work or pay for two weeks. Hindrances like paying bills and providing food for her son arose, yet decisions had to be attained to survive. Despite such harsh tribulations, she shares that her purpose sustains her being, so she knows that she will rise to the occasion for achievement and victory.

What the 2021 Advancing Diversity in Dietetics Scholarship means to you?

My goal is to attain a career as a registered dietitian and be part of the change that will bridge the gap in combating diabetes mellitus within the minority community, including but not limited to Black-African Americans, Hispanics or Latino, Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander, and American Indian or Alaska Natives. The vision is to become a premier resource through a diabetic wellness clinic and center in the pursuit of lowering the most prevalent members of diabetes mellitus. As such, advocate for diabetes awareness and provide the public with the right tools and resources to prevent and preserve the disease within the minority groups. In addition, my lasting impact is determined to inspire and motivate minorities within the nation into defeating this dreadful disease.

Inherently, receiving the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Foundation Advancing Diversity in Dietetics Scholarship means that I have the opportunity to work towards achieving my goal by first attending a dietetic internship program; which further allows me more time to focus on the things that will enable me to succeed within my studies at a comfortable pace. For instance, I may concentrate on my dietetic internship at Ouachita Baptist University this fall and be relieved of stress or anxiety about the cost of attendance or working multiple jobs with limited time to spare during my internship to cover my education and home expenses. Thus, gain an all-inclusive dietetic internship experience. Intrinsically, I truly get to make the most of Ouachita Baptist’s dietetic program, where I may be able to do more meaningful work, which adds value to my educational journey and career goals.

Secondly, I will graduate from Ouachita Baptist University and then apply for the registered dietitian exam to earn a license to become a registered dietitian. Due to this scholarship’s financial support, I will be more selective with my free time, such as study for the registered dietitian exam and increase my chances of passing. Moreover, there is solace in knowing that the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics has established a scholarship to help me and others like me diversify dietetics. As the American Political Activist and Philosopher Angela Davis stated, “you have to act as if it were possible to radically transform the world. And you have to do it all the time.” Together we may all be able to make a difference in the world of dietetics.

How did you learn about the availability of the Foundation scholarship that you received?

I have learned about the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics foundation Advancing Diversity in Dietetics Scholarship through Tamara Melton, MS, RDN, LD Co-founder and Executive Director of Diversify Dietetics Incorporated. I was in desperate need of financial resources to help cover the cost of my tuition after shortly discovering that the program that I am to attend this fall 2021 is not considered a graduate program to qualify to receive federal student loans. I never thought to consider reaching out to anyone for help, but I had come so far to get this close to becoming a registered dietitian, and I did not want the lack of financial resources to be the one thing that would deprive me of my goal.

So as a follower of diversity in dietetics on Instagram, I reached out to Mrs. Melton via email, asking for aid. Moreover, I specifically asked her were any scholarships or student loans available to support minorities since I had tried to apply to other private loans and scholarships. I had searched the internet to find scholarships to use and somehow did not think to connect to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics; however, thank God for resourceful people like Mrs. Melton to be a helpful guide amid my storm, for it was her resourcefulness that led me to utilize this scholarship. In response to my email, she told me that I should apply for the Advancing Diversity in Dietetics Scholarship and that I did not have to be a member of the Academy to participate.

Furthermore, she informed me of the date, which was days away, along with the website link to which I immediately took her advice and started the well in-depth process of applying for this scholarship. I would love to see her face when she realizes how her responsiveness and resourcefulness aided this random person’s direct message on social media, which successfully made a significant difference in my life. I truly appreciate her and the Diversify Dietetics Incorporated Program for their commitment to making a difference and assisting minorities in the nutrition and dietetics field.

What motivated you to apply?

The lack of financial means, the denial of student loans, and supporting my son motivated me to apply for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Foundation Advancing Diversity in Dietetics Scholarship. After earning a fantastic opportunity into a dietetic internship at Ouachita Baptist University, I knew that there was no going back to the start of my career journey of becoming a registered dietitian. As such, I set forth my decision to make a difference within the society of dietetics and inspire my son to work hard at achieving his goals and dreams in life.

Nonetheless, I was accepted into Ouachita Baptist University’s dietetic program and discovered that I did not have the financial means to afford attendance. So, I started researching and networking with others to find financial coverage for my tuition. I thought all hope was lost for my son and me! I honestly had a nervous breakdown from the fear of not knowing what I would do about the cost of school and living expenses. I could not figure out how I would sustain both healthily for my son and me.

I had applied to Sallie-Mae, Free Application for Federal Student Aid, and a few other student loans, but due to my credit score and the program’s lack of an integrated graduate program, I was not qualified to apply for federal or private student loan assistance. Intrinsically, I knew I needed a scholarship or grant money to aid my tuition financial costs. Especially since my financial resources were few and far between, I had been working three part-time jobs to cover extra school expenses until I could not maintain all three positions and continue my education at a healthy rate.

Moreover, I did not have help from outside sources such as family and friends as no one has the financial means to truly assist me and the educational goal that I have worked so hard to obtain. Ultimately, the best option and motivation I had was to apply for this scholarship.

What advice do you have for your colleagues about seeking out and applying for Foundation funding opportunities?

Here are some of the best tips and advice I have for my colleagues with their considerations for applying for scholarships and receiving funding through the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. First, I would start early and do not postpone exploring for scholarships. There are thousands of scholarships out there, and it is hard to determine which is suitable to fit you and your needs. Hence, do your research on scholarship for rules, restrictions, requirements, and due dates.

Utilize your network! On no occasion will you undergo what someone may know to help you receive the aid you necessitate. For example, networking led me to apply for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics scholarship, and I would have missed my opportunity if I did not ask an acquaintance. Thus, ask questions from the people you have within your network and maintain your association as you may never know when you may need their assistance again.

Furthermore, collect letters of recommendation. By no means will you be aware of how many applications require them or the limited amount of time you may have to request and receive the letter, the availability from the party, or the timely fashion in which the individual may possess to distribute the letter.

Get used to writing essays. You have to do it for school, so why not try to do it for scholarships. Save time and as much effort by saving these papers into a file to refer back to or gain insight for other scholarships. Save every copy, and make sure to follow the questions given with as much of the correct information you may have saved. It is a common practice for me to keep everything because at no time will I know when I may need it again.

Practice interviewing. You want to make your first impression an excellent lasting impression on someone. So first, practice in the mirror and have a list of common questions asked of you and a good general idea of what you would say. Second, practice with a close friend or family member to critique you and provide pointers for a successful interview. Taking these steps boost your confidence and preparedness for the interview.

Lastly, apply, apply, apply! No matter how big or small because in no way will you know your chances of winning or how much those scholarship amounts add up.

Foundation Scholarship, Award and Grant Timelines and Application Process

All applications and timelines for Foundation funding opportunities are made available electronically within the Foundation’s application portal. Generally, the scholarship applications are available from mid- February to mid-April, most award and grant applications are available from December to February, and fellowship opportunities are posted as they become available.

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