Dietetics student brings her talents to scholarship house

Shanna Stewart, senior in dietetics, currently is assigned at Smurthwaite Leadership/Scholarship house as the student dietition. At Smurthwaite, Stewart does a variety of duties such as putting together recipies and help the women in the house prepare weekly meals. (Cassandra Nguyen | The Collegian)

In May, Shanna Stewart earned her bachelor’s degree in nutrition and health. She currently helps manage the kitchen of Smurthwaite Scholarship Leadership House, fulfilling internship requirements for a dietetics degree that focus on community, management and clinical work.

For this, she ensures that the kitchen it is stocked, plans dinners, special events and enforces rules in the kitchen for the 39 Smurthwaite women.

“I’m passionate about nutrition and exercise in my own life and thought ‘Why not do it as a career to help other people?’” Stewart said.

Stewart said she hopes to work as a sports dietitian or become a corporate wellness dietitian after passing her registered dietitian exam which will qualify her as a professional nutrition expert. As the women at Smurthwaite adjust to having her around, Stewart is trying to get into the swing of things as well.

“Girls are always coming into my office with tons of questions, and at first I had no idea how to answer them since I was just thrown in here,” Stewart said. “Now, (eight) weeks later, I know where everything is in the kitchen and feel confident answering almost all of their questions.”

Stewart said the most challenging part of her first few weeks at Smurthwaite had been adjusting to working in an organization, adapting to the residents’ needs and dealing with the stress that comes with small, yet unexpected situations like power outages.

“On my second day, the campus sanitarian came into Smurthwaite,” Stewart said. “I was already overwhelmed and stressed out all day, so when he showed up I became even more nervous. He was really nice and told me everything would be okay which made all my emotions surface and I started crying to this man I had just met. He was so worried that he called the next morning to check up on me and reassured me again that I would get the hang of things soon.”

Clara Seiwert, junior in animal sciences and industry and current president of Smurthwaite has worked with nine student dietitians during her stay in the house. Stewart is the first she has worked with during her tenure as president.

“We communicate a lot and make sure to always discuss issues before speaking to the girls about them,” Seiwert said. “We work on solving house problems together and making house duties as efficient as possible.”

Kaitlyn Heier, sophomore in journalism and Spanish, who lives in the Smurthwaite house said having Stewart at the house keeps the kitchen running smoothly.

“Without them (dietitians) the kitchen would be a wreck,” Heier said. “They follow the rules very closely so we don’t get in any trouble with the health inspectors.”

Stewart got the internship through the Coordinated Program in Dietetics at K-State. As one of 12 students who received the internship, Stewart said she feels very fortunate to be chosen and she is thankful for the opportunity.

“In just the past (eight) weeks, this has been such a good learning experience. It has been a nice trial run of a management role that isn’t in the real world,” Stewart said. “It’s nice to practice with college girls before working with adults and children later on.”

The teachers and advisers that are in charge of the coordinator program place the student dietitians based on their personality and qualifications.

Stewart helps keep the atmosphere fun and lively according to both Seiwert and Heier.

“She is easy to talk to and she can relate to our lives better than an adult could,” Heier said. “It’s nice having someone who is close to our age that is in charge. Shanna is always in a great mood and ready to drop everything to help us with whatever we need.”

Though the women are still getting to know Stewart, they realize in just a few short weeks there will be a new student dietitian around.

“Sometimes it’s hard having a new dietitian around every eight weeks because we have a pattern of how we do things and so do they; luckily, Shanna fit the mold,” Seiwert said.

For Stewart, the prospect of learning more about the people she works for and understanding what her future professional life holds for her is the most exciting part of her job and something she looks forward to everyday.

“I noticed that one of the girls in the house posted on her whiteboard saying ‘What we love about Shanna,'” Stewart said. “It was filled with encouraging words from the girls in the house. Things like that make even the hardest days worth it.”