International student trades medical career for nutrition studies

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March 22, 2016

Mount student Frank (Zhang) Cheng is finding new ways to bridge the contemporary and the traditional.

An international student from China, he has made the bold decision to reshape his path and combine his background in traditional Chinese medicine with an education in nutrition. 

A former oncologist, Frank left his home in Pingdingshan, China last August to complete his Master’s in Applied Human Nutrition at the Mount. Having never before travelled abroad, his first international trip took him over 11,000 kilometres away from the comforts of home. His motivation, he says, is to return to China to educate others on the importance of nutrition.

Frank Cheng-2A stressful work environment and exhausting lifestyle prompted Frank to reconsider his future in medicine. Through an Internet search, Frank identified the Mount as one of the top nutrition degrees in North America. Opting for a different path, he was excited by the idea of counselling patients one-on-one in a nutrition clinic.

The Mount offers both Undergraduate and Master’s degrees in Applied Human Nutrition and recently became one of the first university nutrition programs in the country to receive seven-year accreditation under the Dieticians of Canada’s new accreditation program. The Mount’s program received top marks in the review. 

Life in Canada

“Frank has the confidence and life experience to know what he wants and to go for it in his own unique way,” says Lisa Crowell, a Graduate Preparatory Program Instructor in the Mount’s International Education Centre. With a genuine concern for his classmates, he often provides advice to his peers about their health or nutrition. 

Growing up in a city of almost five million people, Frank considers the relationships and interactions he has experienced in Halifax to be especially genuine. Among his major observations of his new temporary Canadian home, Frank highlights the smaller number (and shorter) high rises as well larger amounts of snow than he expected. But at the top of his list: “The first expression to me is that everyone is so kind,” he says.  

Frank Cheng-1Students from over 60 different countries around the world attend the Mount each year. The Mount's International Education Centre (IEC) offers personal, academic and immigration advising to international students.  Home to the Mount’s English as an Additional Language Programs, the IEC help students make a smooth transition into life in a new country.

Harnessing the power of good nutrition

Frank believes he can help prevent illness before it begins by exploring the links between traditional and nutritional treatment. Traditional Chinese medicine includes treatments such as, acupuncture and massage. Frank hopes to combine traditional approaches with his studies about the benefits of good nutrition. 

“A lot of people in China don’t know how to eat well,” Frank says. “If you can eat healthy food, you can lower the risk of disease.”

In the future, Frank aims to partner with an international company to develop modern methods of providing nutritional information to the public. Currently, he is exploring the idea of a new app to help make nutrition information more accessible.





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