Academy Foundation Blog

Nkechi Okpara, MS, RDN - 2022 Commission on Dietetic Registration Doctoral Scholarship Recipient

Nkechi Okpara, MS, RDN

Nkechi Okpara, MS, RDN

2022 Commission on Dietetic Registration Doctoral Scholarship

Completing a Doctoral Program at University of South Carolina

“One goal that I set for myself this school year is to take advantage of networking opportunities by means of attending local and national conferences. Receiving this scholarship allows me to do that. This scholarship will help further my professional career as I will be applying for postdoc fellowships during the latter half of my 4th year. Important for me is that I visit the universities of interest to get a feel of the environment and to assess fit. Therefore, being awarded this scholarship allows me to budget for traveling for interviews and campus visits.

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

I’ve known about the scholarship since I was a dietetic student. I believe I heard about it through my director of the Didactic Program in Dietetics.

What motivated you to apply for a Foundation Scholarship?

The faith that I have in God and in myself was what motivated me to apply. Before receiving this award, I applied three other times and did not get it. But every year that I applied, I had more to add to my experience and story. This fourth time around, I’d had more grant writing and scholarship application experiences. Further, I’d grown more confident in the direction I was going and my means to getting there. I am big on prayer, so for me, it was controlling what I could, and allowing God to do the rest.

How will the scholarship funds help support your continued success within your educational program?

My goal for my fourth year is to…finish. Doing so means focusing on my dissertation from recruiting high school teens, to implementing my nutrition and body image program, and then writing my chapters and manuscripts. Receiving this scholarship helps in my educational success as I will set aside funds for any unexpected materials or costs that I may need for my dissertation. It is very comforting for me to know that I have a cushion in case I go over my original dissertation budget, as my nutrition and body image program continues to be tweaked. Also, this scholarship will allow me to allocate funds to attend conferences to network, and to visit campuses during my postdoc fellowship interviewing process. I am relaxed in knowing that I have a financial plan for this school year. This ease of anxiety helps me focus more on what I have to get done now so I can look forward to the second half of my fourth year. I’m using it as motivation.

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

Here is some advice that I have: 1. Apply but share your story. 2. Give yourself time to answer questions. Expose yourself to the questions first, then sit on it for a bit, and let the answers come to you. 3. The Foundation’s lecture recording: “Foundation Scholarships: Setting Yourself Up for Success” provided many helpful tips. Attend the lecture or watch the recording if you can. The lecture gave me ideas on points to include and how to include them in my application. Watching it made me mentally ready to apply. 4. Save everything on a separate Word document so you can refer back to it (you may need it in the future for other scholarship opportunities).

Scholarship and Award Application and Timeline Information

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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Our Foundation is the only charitable organization dedicated exclusively to supporting nutrition and dietetics professionals by empowering them to help consumers live healthier lifestyles. Our Foundation does not receive any portion of member dues and is funded solely by donations. Please consider making a gift today to support our Make It a Million Scholarship Campaign that will help us to award one million dollars in scholarships annually to Academy members, students and dietetic interns at all levels of study.