NMMU dietetics graduates pave the way

Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University’s first group of BSc dietetics students were capped this week. The group, from left, Aleche Lotter, Saskia Cressey, Lynn Gardner, Professor Annelie Gresse, Felicity Raw, Tsholofelo Mohloane, Zintle Phekana, Teresa Wilson and Michelle Galloway, began their studies at the programme’s inception in 2013. The programme has since grown from an initial intake of 11 students to 72 and this year also saw the graduation of its second Masters student, Shawn McLaren

It has been a difficult, yet rewarding journey for Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University’s (NMMU) first ever intake of BSc dietetics students, who graduated earlier this week.

Excited to have made history, the group of eight young women beamed as they crossed the stage at the South Campus Indoor Sports Centre.

The BSc dietetics qualification is one of the many steps towards the realisation of South Africa’s 10th medical school at NMMU by 2020.

The programme has, since its inception in 2013, seen a growth from the initial intake of 11 students to 72.

Graduate Lynn Gardner, for whom dietetics was not a first choice, said she decided to do the course for a year as she tried to get into her desired programme.

“I literally stumbled upon this and, being exposed to so much in that first year, I was astonished at what I saw and what can be done. That is when I fell in love with dietetics,” she said.

“Being the first group of dietetics students to qualify from NMMU makes me feel special.”

Gardner is doing her community service at the Port Elizabeth base of the South African National Defence Force, an experience she describes as amazing.

Tsholofelo Mohloane was drawn to dietetics by a keenness to learn about the impact of food on people’s lives.

“As soon as I got into it, I started being exposed to information on the nutrition part of it, so knowing how much nutrients play a role in all the therapeutic diets that we learnt about was what deepened my interest in the course,” she said.

Mohloane is doing her community service at a Potchefstroom hospital as a therapeutic clinical dietitian.

Saskia Cressey said she decided to study dietetics as a means to indulge her love for food and helping people.

“It has been an amazing journey and I have learnt a lot during the programme,” she said.

Cressey, who is doing her community service at a hospital in the Free State, said the overall experience had been rewarding.

Senior dietetics lecturer Professor Annelie Gresse said it was an extremely proud moment to see the students graduate.

“This is a proud moment for our department. It was wonderful to share the moment with the students,” she said.

“After four years of working very closely together, these graduates feel like our children.”

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