As an undergraduate student, Alexandra has left her mark on Mount Saint Vincent University. This spring, she graduates with a Bachelor of Science (Honours) in Applied Human Nutrition and will serve as valedictorian of her graduating class.
Originally from Richmond, BC, her interest in the importance of nutrition for both mental and physical health led her to study at MSVU. As a dedicated student member of the MSVU Applied Human Nutrition department, Alexandra has developed many lasting relationships with her peers and faculty. She’s delighted to continue these relationships as she takes the next steps in her MSVU journey this fall with the start of her Master of Science in Applied Human Nutrition.
We asked Alexandra to tell us about her time at MSVU and what’s next. Read on for what she had to say.
Hometown: Richmond, British Columbia
Degree being awarded: Bachelor of Science (Honours) in Applied Human Nutrition (Dietetics) with a double minor in Chemistry and Gerontology
Previous education completed:
- University of British Columbia Okanagan Campus (2011-2013, transferred): started a Bachelor of Art’s in Psychology with a Minor in Painting and Drawing
- Dalhousie University: Bachelor of Science in Psychology (graduated 2016)
Why did you choose to study at MSVU?
It was a happy accident that I ended up at MSVU. I moved to Halifax initially to attend Dalhousie University. At that time, I had never even heard of MSVU. After my first degree, I worked in a group home for adults with intellectual disabilities. I started to recognize the importance of nutrition on both mental and physical health. It was also during this time that I became vegan, which also increased my interest in food. Both of these led me to study nutrition. I honestly chose the Mount because it had a nutrition program, and it was close to my house, so it would not require me to move. I feel fortunate that I happened to end up at the Mount, as it is my favourite school that I have attended.
What did you like most about your MSVU studies/program?
My favourite thing about MSVU is that you are more than just a number. I have attended three universities, and MSVU is the first school where all my professors know my name. Not only do they all know my name, but the professors also seem to genuinely want their students to succeed, and because of this, you want to work harder. I remember studying for a midterm for Food Processing taught by Dr. Kelly Kale. I was getting frustrated and wanted to stop studying, but I remember thinking to myself, “but I don’t want to let Kelly down!” so I kept going. My professors’ investment in me is a big part of why I have done so well at the Mount.
What surprised you about MSVU (or your program)?
What surprised me most about the Applied Human Nutrition program is how tight-knit the program is. You know most of the people in the program, and you know most of the professors. It kind of feels like high school in a sense because no matter where you go on campus, you are bound to run into someone you know.
What class, professor, project or learning activity has held the most meaning for you? Why?
Dr. Bohdan Lohovyy really changed my learning experience. He took me on as an honours student. Also, he gave me the opportunity to be the student coordinator of the Breakfast Program Association of Fairview for the 2019-20 school year, of which he is the president. I am incredibly grateful to Dr. Luhovyy for giving me so many opportunities. I remember nervously emailing him because I wanted to talk to him about doing an honours project and standing outside his door to his office for our meeting. I remember looking at my FitBit, and my heart rate was over 100 beats per minute because I was so nervous. Turns out I had nothing to be worried about because he is such a supportive professor. I am thrilled I decided to reach out to him, and I am eternally grateful for everything he has done for me.
Before the pandemic, how were you involved on campus during your time as an MSVU student?
My central involvement on campus before the pandemic was with the Breakfast Program Association of Fairview. In my first year, I was a volunteer, and in my second year, I was the student coordinator, where I recruited, scheduled, and trained volunteers to make breakfasts for three grade schools. I have been a marker for the Applied Human Nutrition Department, a marker for the Chemistry Department, and a Mount Mentor.
Were you involved in any research as part of your studies? If so, please tell us about that.
While at MSVU, I conducted two research studies, both under the supervision of Dr. Bohdan Luhovyy in the Appetite Lab. The first was a directed study on restrictive eating and dietary patterns of older adults. The second study was on the role of added sugar on the sensory perception of yogurt in children. I also assisted other undergraduate and graduate students with their studies in the Appetite Lab. I am also a research assistant for Dr. Jennifer Brady, who will be my supervisor for my master’s. I have been working on her project, “Yours till the biscuits bounce”: A Critical Feminist History of Home Economics in Canada’s Maritime Provinces. For this project, I have been helping to transcribe interviews with women involved in home economics to better understand the field’s history.
What is your favourite location on campus and why; or did you study entirely online?
Where I study on campus really depends on what I am working on. If I really want to get things done, I like the back of the library in the quiet section. If I am not in a rush, I like to study in the McCain atrium because of how bright it is and its close proximity to coffee. It can be somewhat distracting studying there because you are bound to see people you know passing through. But little chatting breaks are excellent when you are not crunched for time. It is also a good spot to work on group projects.
If you could share just one piece of advice with your pre-MSVU self, what would it be?
If I could share one piece of advice with my younger self, it would be this: talk to your professors and ask for what you want and need. In my first degree, I never spoke to my professors or went to office hours, which I regret. I would struggle through assignments and never ask for help. However, in this degree, I really made an effort to get to know my professors. Doing so allowed me to improve my grades dramatically, I learned more, and I was given more opportunities.
What’s next for you?
I love MSVU so much that I have decided to continue my studies here. I am starting my Master of Science in Applied Human Nutrition in September 2021 under the supervision of Dr. Jennifer Brady. My thesis project is entitled: Exploring social justice advocacy in Nova Scotian physicians. I am grateful to have received the Scotia Scholar Award from Research Nova Scotia and the Canadian Graduate Scholarship from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council to conduct this research.
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