Lisa Perrett will receive her bachelor’s degree in nutrition with a minor in Asian languages and culture from Oregon State University on June 12. Originally from Ventura, Calif., Lisa is passionate about the science behind nutrition and hopes to inspire other athletes to live a healthy lifestyle.
We asked Lisa about her time in the College of Public Health and Human Sciences and her plans for the future.
What inspired you to study nutrition?
After graduating high school, I didn’t know what I wanted to study. I enrolled at the University of Oregon and began to study Japanese, but in my first year, I found it hard to transition from eating home cooked meals every day to being responsible for my own nutrition in the dorms. I joined the rowing team and became fascinated with nutrition: how it fuels us, why food was labeled as “good” or “bad” and why people went on certain diets. Even though my major was Japanese, I spent every free moment I had researching what I could about nutrition. As I researched, I realized the information online was mostly inconsistent and inaccurate. One article would rave about a specific diet, while another article claimed something different. I fell for marketing schemes, bought foods that lifestyle bloggers swore by, and soon enough I lost the enjoyment that food can offer. I was so worried about what “healthy” was, because everyone had a different definition. I eventually got so frustrated and confused by the misinformation that I decided to pursue nutrition so I could find out for myself what “healthy” really meant to me.
What are you most proud of from your time in the CPHHS?
I’m proud that I turned my passion into a career path. I remember being so lost thinking, “What could I possibly do for work?” I’m proud of myself for exploring my options and finding what I love. In my journey through the dietetics program at Oregon State University, I regained balance in my eating habits, discovered the importance of variety and moderation in one’s diet, and not only regained my love of food physiologically, but also socially. My hope is that I can help other people who have had similar struggles.
Have you received any scholarships or assistance during your time here?
Yes, I received the Provost Scholarship and I was also fortunate enough to receive a few scholarships specific to the college, such as the Leo Anderson Memorial Scholarship and Annie Lindsay Scholarship.
What are the most memorable lessons you’ve learned as a student?
Put yourself out there — whenever you can, however you can. I firmly believe it’s always a good idea to connect with your professors or professionals in your desired field because exposure is the best way to figure out what you want to do. When I transferred to Oregon State, I wanted to learn as much about nutrition as I could, so I applied for a variety of part-time jobs surrounding nutrition. I emailed people about jobs I didn’t even know existed, and because of that I gained amazing experiences that eventually shaped my career goals. I worked for a grant funded food and physical activity program under 4-H, volunteered at food banks, shadowed a clinical dietitian and volunteered for the Sports Nutrition department at OSU.
What will you miss the most about the CPHHS, OSU or Corvallis?
The people, definitely! I found people here who have helped me grow so much, inside and outside of the classroom.
What have you learned in the past year?
This year taught me not to take anything for granted, especially our health and well-being. I really saw the amazing effect of surrounding yourself with the right people during tough times and learned a lot about myself.
What’s next? What are your plans after graduation?
I am very excited to have been accepted into the University of Utah’s Coordinated Master’s in Nutrition and Dietetics! I will focus my master’s in sports nutrition while also earning hours in a dietetic internship for the registered dietitian exam. I hope to become a sports dietitian to help athletes fuel themselves and to teach people how to feel their best through nutrition and exercise. My dream is to work internationally, whether that be traveling with teams or being part of companies with international branches, so I can experience different cultures and continue learning about nutrition from educators and scientists from all over the world.
How will you create a healthier world?
I will create a healthier world by educating my clients and the people around me about the science of nutrition, help people stray away from fad diets and emphasize the importance of balance and moderation. I want to help people love what they eat, love how they feel and to feel confident in their own skin.
What does health and well-being mean to you?
First and foremost, it means being happy and feeling good about yourself. It is just as important to be in a good place mentally as it is physically. For myself, health and well-being mean eating certain foods because I love the taste of it, not just because they have the necessary nutrients to keep my body functioning optimally. It means playing tennis or going rock climbing because I love how I feel when I do those activities, not because a magazine told me to exercise.
Do you have any advice for incoming students?
There is no secret to nutrition; it really is about balance. Also, find something you will genuinely be interested in. I encourage incoming students to work in a lot of different positions or volunteer for different events to expand your experiences and figure out what you love.