Dottie Blanchard is a transfer nutrition, dietetics and wellness major from DeKalb, IL
Hometown: DeKalb, IL
Year: Anticipated graduation year: 2021
Transfer from: Bradley University
What did you want to be when you were growing up? Are you pursuing that as a major, or have you taken another path?
Growing up, I always wanted to be a first responder to help prevent further distress for the greater public. I had an interest in helping people, and I still have that today. As I am studying nutrition, dietetics and wellness, I can help with preventative health and encourage people to follow a healthy lifestyle.
What is your major (and/or minor) and why did you decide on this course of study?
I am studying nutrition, dietetics and wellness. I chose dietetics as I always had an interest in sustainable food systems and health through dietary and nutritional needs. Food should be a human right; no one should be hungry. As Americans, we should have full access to food, no matter our race, background or income. I want to be on the side of change to ensure everyone is getting their basic nutritional needs met. I am also earning a certificate in digital media production to expand my knowledge and interest in the production field, and I hope to combine the two professions.
What has been something you have found pleasantly surprising about your experience at NIU?
NIU's diverse student body and supportive faculty have had a tremendous influence on me. Right away at NIU, I found my place in the many extracurricular and volunteer opportunities. NIU has inspiring faculty who go above and beyond for their students.
How have you connected with other students virtually to study for classes, meet new people or form new friendships?
Teams has been an amazing platform to connect with friends, faculty and organizations. Many of my classmates get together for study sessions and application help meetings. Being able to share files, post virtual events or just talk to catch up helps break up the busy workday.
Are you involved in any student organizations, mentoring programs or extra-curricular activities? If so, which ones? How have they added to your experience as a Huskie?
I am an alum of Alpha Phi Omega, a Greek co-ed service organization. I joined in fall 2021 and was the fundraising president for the fall and spring 2019-20 semesters. There were many volunteer opportunities, and it gave me a sense of brotherhood. I am the current president of Kappa Omicron Nu, an honor society for those within the College of Health and Human Sciences. KON is a great leadership community that recognizes our hard work in our majors. There are many volunteer and scholarship opportunities in KON.
Who has been one of your favorite instructors/professors and why? What course did they teach?
Dr. Julie Patterson and Dr. Xiaohui Sophie Li have been my favorite professors at NIU. Dr. Patterson is a professor in the nutrition and dietetics department. She creates unique projects for nutrition counseling. She is one of the most engaging professors and cares about all of her students.
Dr. Li is the advisor for Kappa Omicron Nu and a professor in the human development and family sciences department. Dr. Li and our other advisor, Dr. Barrett, coordinate KON events and the recruitment process. Dr. Li helps ensure that the organization is up to date with all major chapter details and communicates with our national advisors.
Where is your favorite spot on campus or in the community? Why are you drawn to it?
I really enjoy the Campus Life Building. I spent a lot of time there at chapter meetings for Alpha Phi Omega and completing work in the honors lab. I'm drawn to it because it has unique resources for students to be involved with NIU.
What advice would you give to a student who is applying to colleges?
Changing your mind is completely normal during this journey. You might change your major, emphasis or interest a thousand times. As a transfer student who has also changed my major, I am glad that I had the freedom to change my journey. At NIU, there are many paths you can take, and once you find your passion, all doors will open for you!
Coming to college, what is something that you have had to learn to do differently?
I learned better communication and planning while in college. This past year I became busier with academics, work and extracurriculars, so these skills became essential. Communication is so important as I am talking to different advisors, professors and other students throughout the week. I found that planning my day and keeping an updated schedule helps keep me organized and focused.
What do you do to relax or recharge?
Walking and cycling help keep me relaxed and recharged throughout the busy school week. Keeping up with my mental and physical health is so important, especially during this pandemic. Self-care isn't selfish, it's essential!
Is there anything else you'd like to share about your NIU Huskie story?
During the summer of 2019, I studied food and culture in Florence, Italy. This study abroad trip opened my eyes to different food practices and nutrition policies. Comparing practices in the United States to those in Italy gave me a better understanding of culture through food.
As the president of Kappa Omicron Nu, I took seminars in diversity and inclusion. I wanted to be more culturally aware of our members and better meet their needs. My love of diversity and inclusion expanded into a podcast I created with other nutrition and dietetics students. Raising Dietary Representation is a podcast that discusses diversity within nutrition and the health field. This passion project gave us the ability to interview diverse dietitians and learn more about inclusion. It also gave us the motivation to bring awareness of diversity into the health field.
I want to thank the NIU honors department, Andrea Radasanu, Edye Cowan and Julie Patterson for their support.