AnDré Blanks became interested in pursuing a career as a dietitian during an information session his freshman year at Iowa State. Since then, he has become a registered dietitian and is working toward a doctorate degree. Submitted photo
AnDré Blanks became interested in pursuing a career as a dietitian during an information session his freshman year at Iowa State. Since then, he has become a registered dietitian and is working toward a doctorate degree. Submitted photo

Personal rewards outweigh challenges faced on way to becoming a dietitian

While some students come to Iowa State University knowing what they want to study, others don’t make that decision until after they’ve arrived on campus. Such was the case with a Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition (FSHN) alumnus.

It was during a student program informational session regarding various majors offered at Iowa State that AnDré Blanks decided he wanted to pursue a degree in dietetics. Having an interest in biological sciences, he said the session’s discussion on dietetics caught his attention due to the healthcare/health sciences component.

“Over the course of my freshman, sophomore, junior, and senior years as a result of the course work, student labs, and faculty mentors in the dietetics program, I became more familiar with the area of dietetics,” Blanks said.

Following completion of the dietetics program, Blanks worked as a diet technician and a Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) nutritionist before being accepted into the dietetic internship program at Iowa State. He said during the course of his internship, he took part in food service, community and clinical nutrition rotations, with the latter being his favorite. The knowledge he gained during the internship helped him go on to pass the dietitian registration board examination and become a registered dietitian in 2003.

“The ISU dietetic internship experience allowed me to move forward in the dietetics profession,” Blanks said.

Since earning his RD title, Blanks has obtained a master’s degree in business administration, a second master’s degree in nutrition and currently is enrolled in the doctorate of clinical nutrition program at Rutgers University. Along the way, he has held a number of jobs, including an outpatient dietitian at a medical health center, an inpatient registered dietitian in an acute care and long-term psychiatric facility, as well as a clinical nutrition manager at an acute medical facility. He currently is enrolled in the doctorate of clinical nutrition program at Rutgers University while also working as a general dietetics practitioner at an inpatient acute care medical hospital.

“My career journey continues and the next chapters of my career will be filled with new and greater potential opportunities,” Blanks said. “As I position myself professionally for the future, my goal is to continue the momentum of growth and development of knowledge and advanced skill level to become a more influential dietetic practitioner.”

Blanks said a person who has been a great influence on his path to becoming a dietitian is Jean Anderson, now-retired FSHN senior clinician and director of Iowa State’s dietetic internship program.

“I have a great amount of respect and admiration for her because she recognized the untapped potential in me, my desire to succeed, and my self-motivation very early on,” Blanks said. “Her encouragement, support, and confidence helped to empower me to become a competent, confident, and successful dietitian in clinical practice today.”

While Blanks has reached his goal of becoming a dietitian, his journey has not been without its share of challenges. With hard work and determination, however, Blanks has been able to overcome those challenges and he said they have helped him grow as an individual and a dietitian.

“I have faced but also have overcome various obstacles and discouragements throughout my dietetics career development,” Blanks said. “I have also had many professional successes and much personal reward that have outweighed those past challenges.

“What I have come to realize is that it does not matter where one starts in terms of knowledge level in a particular area. If an individual has the self-motivation to put in the effort to learn, the resources, the support, and they continue to believe in themselves, then they can rise up to a higher level of knowledge and functioning.”

Contacts

AnDré Blanks, andreblanks1@gmail.com

Whitney Sager, communications coordinator, Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition, 515-294-9166, wjsager@iastate.edu

  • “As I position myself professionally for the future, my goal is to continue the momentum of growth and development of knowledge and advanced skill level to become a more influential dietetic practitioner.”

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