Dietitians of Canada: Annual awards, 2002–undergraduate and graduate awards in dietetics

Dietitians of Canada: Annual awards, 2002–undergraduate and graduate awards in dietetics

Each year Dietitians of Canada, in partnership with corporate sponsors, recognizes members who are entering a dietetic internship program or pursuing an advanced degree at the master’s or doctoral level. Undergraduate award recipients are selected from DC student members who are enrolled in the final year of a four-year bachelor’s degree program and have accepted an internship. DC members currently enrolled in a graduate degree program are eligible for graduate awards. Additional criteria for selection include academic excellence, personal attributes and potential for contribution to the profession.

Our thanks are extended to the DC Awards Committee, chaired by S. Eileen Hogan, which undertook the challenging task of reviewing the 15 undergraduate and 13 graduate award applications received this year. Dietitians of Canada is pleased to announce the recipients of the awards presented in 2002.


DC Undergraduate Intern

Scholarship – $2,500

Sponsored by

Kraft Canada Inc.

Melissa Zirk recently graduated from the University of Manitoba with a Bachelor of Human Ecology – Human Nutritional Sciences. In September she will begin her dietetic internship at the Health Sciences Centre in Winnipeg, Manitoba. Her career goals include working in diabetes education, although she is interested in all areas of clinical dietetics.

Throughout university, Melissa has worked in many areas: she has been both a computer lab assistant and a teaching assistant for the Faculty of Human Ecology. She also received the National Science and Engineering Research Council’s Undergraduate Scholarship as well as the Dr. A.W. Hogg Undergraduate Scholarship 2001 and the Isbister Undergraduate Scholarship 2001 for the highest grade point average in the Faculty of Human Ecology.

Melissa’s extracurricular activities include being a student senator and a member of the Human Ecology Students Organization. She also co-chaired the Nutrition Month committee and is currently volunteering for the Canadian Diabetes Association. In the past, she was a dietetic intern at Camp Briardale (a summer camp for children with type I diabetes). She has also held numerous snack coordinator positions at various organizations including Cancer Care Manitoba, and a Healthy Start for Mom and Me. Melissa declares: “I would like to thank Dietitians of Canada and Kraft for the Undergraduate Award, as well as the opportunities that it offers. I am very excited to begin my internship and my career in dietetics.”


DC Undergraduate Award – $1,000

Sponsored by

Mead Johnson Nutritionals

Rebecca developed an interest in the field of nutrition while completing a degree in Human Geography and Health Studies. During that time, she studied introductory nutrition and was inspired to continue in the field as she learned about the critical role of nutrition in health and well-being. Her interest led her to pursue a Bachelor of Applied Science in Food and Nutrition at Ryerson University, which she completed this past spring.

While at Ryerson, Rebecca received several awards for her academic and leadership endeavours, and was active in a number of volunteer roles. She held volunteer positions at the University Health Network and Ryerson’s community food room, and was Vice-President of the Canadian Food Service Executives Association’s Ryerson Junior Branch.

Volunteering with a local heart health network, working as a nutrition peer educator at Ryerson’s Health Centre and a summer position as coordinator of a community food access project helped Rebecca realize her desire to continue her studies in community nutrition. She is excited to begin a Master of Health Science in Community Nutrition at the University of Toronto. Rebecca declares: “I am honoured to be receiving this DC award, and look forward to my future work in the field of nutrition.”


DC Undergraduate Award – $750

Sponsored by

Hobart Food Equipment Group Canada

Jennifer completed her undergraduate education in 2002 with Bachelor of Science degrees in Dietetics (University of British Columbia) and Biology (University of Victoria). During this time she was involved in a variety of community projects, from coaching a teenaged girls’ ringette team and volunteering with St. Paul’s Hospital’s renal nutrition program to working at a shelter for street children in Guatemala. She also worked as a dietary aide at a medium-care facility. Her academic achievements were recognized through UBC’s Outstanding Student Initiative, the Charles and Jane Banks Scholarship, and the UBC Undergraduate Scholar Program.

A summer studentship award from the BC Cancer Foundation and subsequent part-time work as a research assistant at the BC Cancer Research Centre stimulated her interest in the relationship between diet and cancer. After gaining several years of clinical experience, she plans to continue research in this field at the graduate level.

“It’s exciting to be starting a career in such a positive and dynamic profession,” says Jennifer, “and I really appreciate this support from Dietitians of Canada and Hobart Food Equipment in reaching my professional goals.” She looks forward to an internship at Royal Columbian Hospital in New Westminster, BC, in the fall.


DC Graduate Award – $2,500

Sponsored by

DC Memorial Fund

Vanessa obtained her Bachelor of Science in Foods and Nutrition from the University of Alberta in 2000. During her undergraduate years, she was accepted into the Coordinated Dietetics Internship Program and completed her internship in December 2000. In January 2001, she began work toward her Master’s in Human Nutrition and Metabolism at the University of Alberta. Her master’s project involves assessing school-aged children’s current dietary intakes of long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (LCPUFA). Those who consume low levels of LCPUFA will be provided with a formula containing these fatty acids to determine if vision ability and perception improve.

While pursuing her master’s degree, Vanessa volunteers for the Canadian Diabetes Association, where she is a member of the Asian Community Group. One of the projects in which she is involved is developing and testing recipes for a Cantonese/English cookbook.

Along with the Dietitians of Canada graduate award, she is supported by the Natural Sciences Engineering Research Council of Canada Postgraduate Scholarship, the Alberta Heritage Foundation for Medical Research Studentship and the Elizabeth Russell MacEachran Scholarship.

“I am deeply honoured to be recognized by the Dietitians of Canada,” Vanessa says. “I look forward to developing my research skills and making meaningful contributions to our profession through my ongoing research in LCPUFA and their effects on children.”


DC Graduate Award – $2,500

Sponsored by

McCain Foods (Canada)

Donna Secker, MSc, RD, is in her first year of doctoral studies at the University of Toronto’s Institute of Medical Sciences. She received an Allied Health Doctoral Fellowship from The Kidney Foundation of Canada and a Doctoral Studentship Award from The Hospital for Sick Children’s Research Training Competition for her research in developing clinical techniques for assessing nutritional status in children.

Recognized for her volunteer commitment through Dietitians of Canada’s (DC) Volunteer Recognition Program, Donna represents DC on the Canadian Paediatric Society’s (CPS) Nutrition Committee as well as the Canadian Neonatal and Pediatric Nutrition Network. She was the DC representative for the current Canadian guidelines on infant nutrition, developed collaboratively by the CPS, DC and Health Canada.

Donna completed her BSc and MSc in Nutrition at the University of Toronto, and a dietetic internship at Victoria Hospital, London. She is a clinical dietitian in the Nephrology and Multi-organ Transplant Programs at the Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto.

Donna says: “I am grateful to McCain Foods (Canada) for their corporate sponsorship of Dietitians of Canada’s program to recognize its members’ commitment to advancing the profession. I am honored to be among this year’s recipients of a graduate award.”


DC Graduate Award in

Clinical Dietetics – $2,000

Sponsored by


In 1998 Lori graduated from Memorial University of Newfoundland with a Bachelor of Science in BiochemistryDietetics. In 1999 she completed her dietetic internship at the Health Sciences Centre in Winnipeg, Manitoba. After her internship she practiced as a dietitian at the Group Health Centre, Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario; Gray Bruce Regional Health Authority, Owen Sound, Ontario; and the Regional Health Authority of Central Manitoba. She has also enjoyed doing several public talks, on a volunteer basis, in the area of healthy eating and disease.

Lori’s main passion has always been nutrition and renal disease. She started the full-time master’s program at the University of Manitoba in September 2001. She is currently looking at the effects of conjugated linoleic acid on the early stages of type II diabetic nephropathy. She has received two entrance scholarships, the Holmfridur Kristjansson Graduate Award in Nutrition and the Janet Fabro McComb Graduate Award in Food, as well as a University of Manitoba Graduate Fellowship. It is with great honour that she receives the Dietitians of Canada Graduate Award sponsored by Sodexho. She says: “I am grateful for the support and recognition of my endeavours, and I hope my research will make a useful contribution to our current knowledge of nutrition and renal disease.”

Stacy is a registered dietitian in the Heart and Vascular Program at St. Michael’s Hospital. She previously worked at The Wellesley Central Hospital and The Credit Valley Hospital, and has provided consulting services for Becel Canada’ She completed her dietetic internship at St. Michael’s Hospital in 1997.

Stacy graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Nutrition from Acadia University, Wolfville, Nova Scotia, in 1996. During her undergraduate years, she received the University Medal in Nutrition and graduated as a University Scholar. In September 2001, the St. Michael’s Hospital Foundation acknowledged her commitment to continuing education by awarding her with The Sister Christine Gaudet Scholarship.

She is currently pursuing a Master of Science Degree in Nutrition at the University of Toronto. Her research is investigating the prevalence of thiamin deficiency in hospitalized congestive heart failure patients and defining the factors that contribute to this deficiency.

She is very excited to have received the Dietitians of Canada Graduate Award. “It is wonderful to have the support to conduct practice-based research so that I may improve my research skills,” she says. “Research is the foundation to furthering the dietetic profession and I am thrilled to contribute to this.”

Judy Van Tilburg

Memorial Bursary

The Judy Van Tilburg Memorial Bursary was first established with the BC Dietitians’ and Nutritionists’ Association by the Van Tilburg family and was transferred to Dietitians of Canada in 2000. The goal of the bursary is to help dietetic interns network with other dietitians and to assist them in furthering their professional development. The bursary supports a complimentary DC annual event registration for two DC qualifying members who are currently enrolled in a DC accredited internship/practicum program.

Our thanks are extended to the selection committee, once again chaired by Kathy Russell, which took on the important role of reviewing applications this year.

Congratulations to the winners of the 2002 Judy Van Tilburg Memorial Bursary.

Heather is currently completing her dietetic internship at Vancouver Hospital and Health Science Centre and her Master’s in Human Nutrition at the University of British Columbia. Her research on lactose intolerance focuses on calcium intake and encompasses the relationship between attitude and food intake. It has been presented in 2001 and 2002 at Canadian Foundation for Dietetic Research Events. Heather’s wide range of interests has promoted her involvement in a variety of research efforts, employment and volunteer activities, including multidisciplinary nursing and nutrition research on the availability of ethnic foods, safety of phytoestrogen use in patients with breast cancer, and food/nutrition marketing.

She is excited to attend the DC research and networking event, to share from dedicated and experienced nutrition current knowledge from dedicated and experienced nutrition professionals. After completing her internship, Heather looks forward to promoting Canadians’ health through practicebased research in a clinical setting.

Sarah is currently completing her dietetic internship at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto, where she has brought an enthusiastic, positive attitude to every aspect of her dietetic training. Her current research project explores the prevalence of poor appetite in outpatients infected with the human immunodeficiency virus, and its relationship to several disease severity indicators. This research abstract was displayed at the 2002 DC conference. Sarah’s passion for the science of nutrition has motivated her to become involved in many different volunteer and work opportunities. These include the development and initiation of a feeding program for patients who require assistance in a hospital or nursing home setting, and the development of an eating disorder nutrition care manual.

Sarah is thrilled at the opportunity to attend the 2002 DC conference as it provides a unique and exciting opportunity for her to continue to grow personally and excel professionally in dietetics. Upon completion of her internship, Sarah wishes to give back to the community through nutrition education to improve the health and quality of life of individuals and their families.

Copyright Dietitians of Canada Fall 2002

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