A runner for most of her life, Michelle Palladino was amazed by the impact that food had on her performance, both mentally and physically.
Once she started taking courses in nutrition as an undergraduate, she knew right away that she wanted a career in the field of nutrition and dietetics.
“I love that nutrition is ever-changing and offers so many career options for dietitians,” says Palladino, who earned a bachelor’s in nutrition and a master’s in public health.
She worked as a clinical dietitian at UMass Memorial Medical Center on a surgical oncology ward and bone marrow transplant unit for three years before making the switch to working with schools.
As a registered dietitian in four school districts throughout Massachusetts and New Hampshire, Palladino teaches nutrition education to teachers and students, participates in cooking demonstrations, conducts audits on USDA menu planning and meets with staff, students and parents on anything from food allergens to food science education.
“I enjoy every second of working in school nutrition,” she says. “After working in clinical, I was totally ready for a change of scenery and really wanted to expand in another area of nutrition.”
She also writes grant proposals. With her help, the Leominster School District received more than $15,000 for nutrition and physical activity equipment from the Fuel Up to Play 60 Program, launched by the National Dairy Council and the NFL to promote healthy living.
“I am also currently working with our spring track team at Leominster High School to pilot a sports nutrition project, which has been superfun,” she says.
Palladino has come full circle as she takes on the additional role of teaching undergraduate nutrition classes in the Zuckerberg College of Health Sciences at UMass Lowell.
“I absolutely love teaching,” she says.
UML now offers a Master of Public Health Dietetics program, which wasn’t available when Palladino was pursuing her advanced degree. In 2012, she received a Didactic Program in Dietetics certificate from Simmons College. This allowed her to take the necessary courses to apply for a dietetic internship and later sit for the Registered Dietitian exam. She then came back to UML to earn a Master of Public Health degree in health care management.
“I am so proud that UML now offers a dietetic path for prospective RD students,” she says. “When preparing and sitting for the Registration Examination for Dietitians, I felt extremely confident in the scientific knowledge I obtained at UML. I learned how to be proficient and balance multiple tasks while going through the program, which is something I’ve carried with me throughout my career.”