CALS Graduate Seeks to Help Others through Dietetics
A desire to improve his own health has led Isaac Wright to pursue a degree where he will be able to help others achieve the same goal.
Wright will graduate from the University of Idaho College of Agricultural and Life Sciences in December with a master’s degree in family and consumer sciences and will finish up his bachelor’s in dietetics next spring. Originally from Filer, Wright has been working concurrently on the two degrees after earning his bachelor’s in health sciences from Boise State University.
“As a future nutrition professional, I want to be able to help others improve their health,” Wright said.
An Interest in Nutrition
A conversation with his advisor at BSU about his interest in nutrition ultimately led to a meeting with SeAnne Safaii-Waite, an associate professor in the Margaret Ritchie School of Family and Consumer Sciences based at the UI Boise Center.
“Originally I was planning on talking with SeAnne about where I could go out of state that had a good master’s dietetics program,” Wright said. “She explained that I could get a master’s at UI and also enroll in the dietetics program to get a second bachelor’s to become a master-level registered dietitian.”
Safaii-Waite developed a two year plan for Wright to finish both degrees, which included two semesters on the UI Moscow campus and clinical rotations in the Boise area.
“I remember thinking, ‘this looks impossible’ — all the courses that were integrated in the programs and the hours that I needed to complete for the dietetics program,” Wright said. “But, every step of the way, SeAnne has encouraged me. I can’t believe I actually stuck with what we planned two years ago.”
When it came time to decide on a research project for his master’s degree, Wright decided to focus on diabetes, an area that he feels needs more health care professionals. During the past summer, Wright worked with UI Extension educator Martha Raidl on the Healthy Diabetes Plate curriculum.
The Healthy Diabetes Plate teaches class participants how to plan a healthy meal to manage their diabetes using all five food groups and portion control. Wright’s role in the program was to deliver the educational materials to study participants, collect, enter and analyze the data and compile his thesis and a research article. The goal of the research project was to determine if the updated curriculum was effective.
“Many students are very apprehensive when they start working on a research project. Not Isaac,” Raidl said. “He was very motivated, enthusiastic and worked diligently in all aspects of his diabetes education project.”
A Focus on Research
Wright recently learned that his research article, “Effectiveness of the Healthy Diabetes Plate and Social Media Project,” was accepted for publication in the Journal of Nutrition and Health. His experiences while working on his master’s degree have made him realize his interest in research.
“I want to take a research emphasis in the future and possibly pursue my Ph.D. because of the group of dietetics professors that I’ve worked with,” Wright said. “I never saw myself doing that, but they’ve definitely made me feel like I can.”
“Isaac is passionate about the field of dietetics and it has been rewarding for me as his professor to watch this passion grow over the last two years,” Safaii-Waite said. “He came into the program wanting to learn more about diabetes and I have watched him teach our diabetes curriculum with enthusiasm and confidence.”
Wright will finish up the final semester of his dietetics degree with clinical rotations in Ontario, Oregon, and management rotations at Micron in Boise. He credits the professors at UI for helping him along the way.
“The dietetics program has the most supportive professors I’ve ever seen,” Wright said. “I have a lot of school experience and I’ve never met a group of professors that are so supportive. If you go to a bigger school, you’re just not going to get that attention.”
Wright is still weighing his options for life after college, but is confident that the education he received at UI has prepared him for whatever the future holds.
“What a great experience I’ve had,” Wright said. “I definitely know I’ll have a good future ahead of me because I was prepared so well. My professors pushed me to the limit. Once you reach certain goals, you are so appreciative of how hard they pushed you because they prepared you for the real world.”