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Current TOP Students

2017-2018 (Cohort 7) Students

Abbey Hillestad

Abbey Nielsen

 

Abbey Hillestad was born and raised in Sioux Falls, SD. She received her Bachelor’s Degree from South Dakota State University in Nutrition and Dietetics in the summer of 2017. Abbey is currently pursuing her Master’s in Nutrition and Exercise Science, specializing in Nutrition. She is planning on completing her degree in May of 2019. Abbey will be working towards completing her thesis, but is unsure of her topic thus far. She is enrolled in the TOP certificate program due to her passion to further her knowledge and communication skills. Abbey would like to work in a clinical setting, potentially working with pregnant women and infants. Long-term, her main goal is to be a nutrition counselor working with a variety of patients looking for nutrition guidance.

Keith Thompson

Keith Thompson

 

Keith originally grew up in the small town of Princeton, Minnesota just east of St. Cloud. He is currently an intern for the SDSU Nutrition and Dietetic Internship. Keith has earned his Bachelor’s Degree at South Dakota State University in Nutrition and Dietetics. His passion for exercise and healthy lifestyles started at a very young age and continues to grow. While residing in Brookings, Keith worked at a local nursing home as the Interim Director of Nutrition. Through his work experience, his passion for long-term care and foodservice grew. His research as an intern is directed toward high school students and their association of confidence in cooking and their fruit and vegetable intakes. His goal is to become a registered dietitian in the field of long-term care or foodservice management. He enjoys being outdoors, working out, and is very passionate about disc golf. Through the TOP program, he looks forward to working with all populations throughout the Brookings community and to expand his knowledge in community interventions.

Claire Sylvestre

Claire Sylvestre

 

Claire Sylvestre of Hopkins, Minnesota received a bachelor’s degree in Exercise Science from the University of Minnesota Duluth in 2017. She is currently pursuing a master’s degree in Nutrition and Exercise Science, specializing in Exercise Science. She is a certified group fitness instructor and spent the last year teaching group fitness classes at UMD. As an undergraduate she also conducted research of the temporal comparison of biomechanical performance determined by keyboard type on local pianists around the Duluth area. She is interested in doing her thesis research in the field of biomechanics on the comparison of lower extremity joint forces between obese and non-obese individuals. Claire is pursuing a TOP certificate to expand her knowledge of childhood obesity and gain the experience of working with transdisciplinary teams in an academic setting. After graduation, should would like to pursue a PhD and stay involved in research and academia

Gabriella Nowicki

Gabriella Nowicki

 

Gabriella (Gabby) Nowicki is a first-year graduate student/dietetic intern with a focus in Nutritional Sciences. Originally from Clarksville, Maryland, she graduated from the University of New Haven in Connecticut back in May 2016. Gabby graduated with a B.S. in Nutrition & Dietetics and a minor in Spanish. She will begin to work on a thesis toward investigating the relationship between school wellness policies and childhood obesity while being a Graduate Resident Assistant under Dr. Meendering and Dr. McCormack. Growing up, Gabby always enjoyed food and cooking combined with a heavy science background. She loves the environment and learning how to be more sustainable with food. While at New Haven, she worked in her undergraduate fitness center and as a health & wellness intern for Sodexo. She would volunteer at food shelters and a long-term care hospital as a dining companion. Currently, aside from her GRA position, she works at the United Living Community as a dietary aide. Gabby believes the TOP graduate certificate will not only push her to think outside the box with other disciplines and learn to enjoy group work, but also make her stand out from a stack of resumes. After graduation in May 2019, Gabby hopes to move back to Maryland and work as a clinical dietitian in an outpatient facility or in an ICU of a hospital. One day, she hopes to have her own practice.

Alyssa Kauffman

Alyssa Kauffman

 

Alyssa Kauffman recently moved to Brookings, South Dakota this past summer after graduating from Bluffton University in Ohio and receiving a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Food and Nutrition with a concentration of Dietetics. She also completed a sociology minor that combines her interests of nutrition topics with understanding of how different populations are affected by nutrition and wellness issues. Her interests within the field are preventative medicine in the children/adolescent population and she would like to work with children in the future as a nutrition educator or community dietitian to help kids understand how food can affect their future. Here at SDSU, she is working towards a Master's in Nutrition and Exercise Science with a focus in community nutrition and dietetics. Along with working towards these goals, she enjoys playing piano, staying active with ultimate frisbee, and traveling to new places. Her most recent adventure was to the country of Bangladesh for 3 weeks. She’s excited to see where the TOP certificate will lead her and how it will help in reaching her career goals.

Paige Pappadackis

Paige Pappadacki

 

Paige Pappadackis, originally from Sergeant Bluff, Iowa, graduated in May 2017 from South Dakota State University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Nutrition and Dietetics. She is currently pursuing a Master’s degree in Nutrition and Exercise Sciences, specializing in Nutritional Sciences. Paige is a graduate research assistant and focusing her thesis on a new project on campus called Healthy Eating Campus Tours. These tours focus on improving the nutrition of students living on campus and showcasing the healthy dining options on campus. Paige is interested in the TOP graduate certificate because she hopes to learn more about obesity prevention and working in a transdisciplinary setting. After completing the Dietetic Internship and Master’s degree at SDSU in May 2020, Paige plans to take the exam to become a Registered Dietitian and work in a community-based setting.

Bailey Larson

Bailey Larson

 

Bailey Larson was born and raised in Sioux Falls, SD. She earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Nutrition & Dietetics from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in May 2017. Currently, Bailey is pursuing her Master’s in Nutrition and Exercise Science as a part of the Dietetic Internship Program and plans to graduate in May 2019. During her undergraduate studies, Bailey volunteered and worked for after school programs in the Lincoln Public Schools, such as Girls on the Run and WeCook, which promote and instill healthy lifestyle habits within elementary aged children. Bailey is attaining her TOP graduate certificate to further her knowledge on childhood obesity and understand the importance of working in transdisciplinary teams to prevent obesity. After graduation, Bailey plans to take the dietetic registration exam and obtain a career as a Registered Dietitian.

Lezlie Pommer

Lezlie Pommer

 

Lezlie Pommer, originally from Willow Lake, South Dakota, is pursuing a Master’s degree in Nutrition and Exercise Sciences, with a specialization in Nutritional Sciences and plans to graduate in May of 2019. She received her Bachelor’s degree in Dietetics from South Dakota State University in May of 2017. Lezlie is also a graduate research assistant, and will likely focus her research topic on the relationship between omega-3 fatty acid intake and depression; knowledge and consumption of omega-3 fatty acids; and the influence of chia-DHA-enhanced FSP consumption on depressive symptoms in college students. From pursuing the TOP certificate program, she hopes to expand her knowledge on childhood obesity prevention and working as a member of a transdisciplinary team to provide the best care as a dietitian. After the internship and graduation, Lezlie hopes to pass the RD exam and to work as a Registered Dietitian in a clinical setting in South Dakota.

Elizabeth Bye

Elizabeth Bye

 

Elizabeth Bye received her bachelor’s degree in Exercise Science at South Dakota State University in May 2017. She is now pursuing her Master’s Degree in Nutrition and Exercise Science with a specialization in Exercise Science, her anticipated graduation date is May 2019. During her undergraduate years Elizabeth worked as a personal trainer and group fitness instructor at the SDSU Wellness Center. She also gained experience working with various athletic teams in the strength and conditioning setting during her internship at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Elizabeth’s thesis will evaluate the relationship between the physical activity environment and perception of the physical activity environment in South Dakota communities with high obesity prevalence. She is pursing the TOP certification for the opportunity to work with individuals outside of her discipline and come up with innovative ideas to help develop possible solutions to the current obesity epidemic. After graduation Elizabeth is looking forward to promoting physical activity in a community setting.

Myranda Dunmire

Myranda Dunmire

 

Myranda Dunmire, originally from Palmdale CA, received her Bachelor’s Degrees from South Dakota State in Health Education and Nutrition and Dietetics in May 2017. She is currently pursuing a Master’s Degree in Nutrition and Exercise Science with an emphasis in Nutrition and plans to graduate in May 2019. Myranda has work experience within food services through employment with Aramark as well as volunteer experience with wellness coaching through a local nutrition center. Her thesis will focus on nutritional eating patterns and behaviors in clients who utilize food pantries in rural communities. She is pursuing the TOP graduate certificate in order to obtain and utilize specific skills needed to work with transdisciplinary teams and to become a successful Registered Dietitian. After graduating, Myranda plans to work within a community setting to provide preventative care and consultations with clients of all ages and backgrounds.

Maty Skinner

Maty Skinner

 

Maty Skinner graduated from South Dakota State University in May of 2017 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Exercise Science. Originally from Hartford, SD, Maty is now pursuing a Master's in Exercise Science and plans to graduate May 2019. During her time at SDSU, Maty worked at the Wellness Center on campus as a personal trainer, group fitness instruction, and administrative assistant. While completing her Internship, Maty got hired at D1 and Orthopedic Institute, a fitness facility in Sioux Falls, SD, where she worked with student athletes and adults to help them reach their fitness goals. Maty has always been interested in obesity prevention through physical activity and exercise. The TOP certification, as well as her thesis research, will allow her to explore this passion with other disciplines and gain a broader knowledge of this problem. After graduation, Maty plans to move to Sioux Falls and continue to improve the health and wellness of other individuals.

Elizbeth Nagel

Elizabeth Nagel

 

Elizabeth Nagel, of Sioux Falls, SD, completed her bachelor’s degree from South Dakota State University in Biology and Nutritional Sciences. She is currently in her second year of graduate school pursuing a Master’s in Nutritional and Exercise Science with a specialization in Nutrition. She is looking to complete her masters in May 2018 and apply for Dietetic Internships and get accepted for the fall cycle of 2018. She has worked with many research studies in her undergrad looking at childhood obesity and increasing healthy habits among college students. She has also interned with programs working with athletes to improve speed and agility. Her thesis works with the gut microbiota; how diet influences the type of microbes in the gut and the products the microbiota produces and how they influence health. She is pursing the TOP certificate because she believes heavily in preventative health and starting nutrition education in childhood years. She would like to be a  Registered Dietitian Nutritionist in maternal and child health.

Megan Tschakert

Megan Tschakert

 

Megan Tschakert, from Florence, South Dakota, graduated from South Dakota State University with her Bachelor’s Degree in Nutrition and Dietetics in May of 2016. She is currently working towards her Master’s Degree in Nutrition and Exercise Sciences with a Nutrition specialization. Megan was also accepted into South Dakota State University’s Nutrition and Dietetic Internship, which she will begin in August of 2018 and will graduate in May of 2019. Her thesis focuses on the relationship of weight-related eating behaviors and weight-loss of participants enrolled in a proprietary weight-loss program. Megan is obtaining the TOP graduate certificate to gain better knowledge of how to work in transdisciplinary teams, which will help her become more successful in helping her patients as a Registered Dietitian. After graduation and upon passing her RD exam, she would like to work in a long-term care facility or assisted living center working with and helping the elderly.

Kaitlyn Tusha

Kaitlyn Tusha

 

Kaitlyn Tusha is originally from Lakeville, Minnesota and completed her Bachelor’s Degree here at South Dakota State in the spring of 2017. She is currently pursuing her Master’s Degree in Nutrition and Exercise Sciences focusing on Nutrition. Through the TOP program, she looks forward to working with other students to develop new solutions to childhood obesity. This class will give her further knowledge to help her future clients. In her future career, she hopes to become a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and help many people, specifically through nutrition counseling in the outpatient setting. She intends to someday own her own business where she can build relationships with clients one on one.