Today we feature Keyanna Meade, a senior Nutrition major and transfer student from Burlington Township, NJ (Burlington County). She is part of the Minority Association of Premedical Students MAPS and will be president of Helping Our People Excel through Wellness (H.O.P.E. through Wellness) this year. Keyanna shares her experience as a nutrition research assistant under the direction of Dr. Nicole Vaughn.
Why did you choose Rowan to study your major?
I chose Rowan because it was kind of close to home. After also hearing about all the great programs they had for my major, I decided Rowan was the best place to transfer to prepare me for my future endeavors.
What does everyday life at Rowan look like for you? Can you walk us through a day in your shoes?
My schedule looked pretty similar day to day. I would often start my day by going to work, and then I would come to campus. When coming to campus I would attend class and then typically I would head to the gym. After leaving campus I would usually head home and cook myself something to eat. My day usually ends with completing homework and relaxing.
How did you start your research process? Why did you decide to start research in the nutrition field?
I have always been interested in being part of research and studies that were more community based rather than just conducting research out of a lab. By being a nutrition major, I’ve learned it is important to be educated on topics like, why individuals are food insecure and why certain diseases are more prevalent in certain communities … to name a few.
I was thrilled to find when I was looking on the Rowan Announcer that Dr. Vaughn was looking for a research assistant. I sent over my resume and applied for the position, and that’s how this all started.
Can you talk about what you are researching and why?
This summer I worked on a project that basically created a food system flow chart of all the nutritional programs provided in New Jersey. I was a part of the summer undergraduate research program (SURP), and my day-to-day consisted of a lot of researching, interviewing directors of programs, participants and stakeholders, and I was even part of the funding process.
For the flowchart we used something called Lucidchart. Our chart basically starts off with the Farm Bill, then the USDA, the Department of Agriculture, Department of Health, and then the bottom of the flow chart is where it reaches the county level and the consumers.
This whole flow chart creation process took about 10 weeks, and we are currently still editing it and sending it over to stakeholders to approve the accuracy.
Can you describe the research methods you have used in the past or are currently using?
One of our data methods is qualitative. We also conduct a lot of interviews for the community-based research we conduct.
What research skills have you acquired during your academic and/or research career?
Throughout this process my communication, critical thinking, writing and leadership skills have definitely improved.
What have you learned so far in your research process?
I have learned a lot through this experience. Specifically, I have learned how important it is to help out in your community and ways that you can give back because a lot of individuals are hungry, starving, homeless … and they are unaware of the programs available to them, so I think it is very important to not only give back to your community, but to spread knowledge on the programs available.
This whole process led me to wanting to get my master’s in Public Health. I want to help more on a community base and a whole population rather than just one individual at a time.
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