Meet our upwaRD™ Winners: Tessa Nguyen, RD, LDN

How did you become interested in nutrition and dietetics?

My brothers and I all have food allergies, so learning how to cook was an essential skill for us to have in order to survive. This necessity grew into a love for cooking, which led to my desire to become a professional chef. While I was attending culinary school, one of my mentors introduced me to the nutrition and dietetics pathway. This was a lightbulb moment for me. It was then that I wanted to become a chef and registered dietitian who used food as a way to include those with food allergies and dietary restrictions, not isolate them.

 

What food is always on your mind and why?

Food is always on my mind, whether it be what i’m craving for dinner or what recipe I’m going to test out next. However, the food I tend to gravitate towards and think of often include the many Vietnamese, Polish and Hungarian staples I grew up eating. Pho, banh xeo, cha gio, pierogies, galumpkis – I could go on and on!

 

What’s the best piece of career advice you’ve received?

Keep it positive. Use difficult moments as an opportunity to learn and grow. No matter how crummy a situation is, there’s at least one little nugget of goodness you can take from it.

 

How do you stay organized at work?

Shout out to the calendar on my phone for keeping me organized and for knowing when and where to be at all times! I would be lost without it. Whether you use the one on your phone or go old school with a paper calendar, find one that works for you. It may seem silly at first, but having meetings, deadlines, etc. all in one place has helped me keep it together.

 

Name a career accomplishment that you’re most proud of – and why?

Serving on the Advisory Council for Diversify Dietetics. I’m not the first dietitian of color to receive disparaging remarks and I can promise I won’t be the last. However, Diversify Dietetics has awoken a sense of advocacy in myself for supporting and being proud of the fact that I’m multi-ethnic and to use this as a strength when working with my clients.

 

One thing people are surprised to learn about me is:

I absolutely love the Harry Potter movies, but I’ve only read about 5 pages of the first book when it first came out. To this day, my brothers still tease me about it.

 

What career would you choose if you had an opportunity to switch jobs for one day?

This may sounds trite, but if i could choose, I would still be a chef and registered dietitian. The great part about being an entrepreneur in the food and nutrition business means I have been able to craft and create the job I want. From working with professional athletes to dining in some of the best restaurants, it’s not hard to say I love my job.

 

How do you find balance?

Learning to say no. There’s a difference between being open to new opportunities that push you outside of your comfort zone and saying yes to every single opportunity and running yourself ragged. Setting boundaries both in my personal and professional life have helped me achieve a balance that works best for me.

 

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