Victoria Jansen

Victoria Eugenie Jansen

What influenced you to pursue a graduate degree in nutritional sciences? 

Bread, bikes, and family influenced me. As an undergraduate, I worked in a lab in developing whole-wheat sourdough test bake methods which taught me solutions to nutritional problems require systems approaches. I want to bring that approach to clinical dietetics and develop systems-based solutions to nutritional problems. I also spend my time racing bicycles which has taught me that we need more registered dietitians working with athletes on how they can support their long-term health by preventing and treating eating disorders and relative energy deficiency. I want to support athletes, often overlooked and under supported, in their nutrition and training so that success does not come at a cost.  Also coming from a multi-cultural immigrant family, many of my family members did not receive the culturally appropriate nutrition care they deserved. I want to help improve how the field of nutrition serves all communities that live in the United States, especially underrepresented communities.  I want to increase access and availability for these communities to access healthy food, as well as contribute to making the workforce of nutrition professionals more diverse.  

Why did you choose to attend UW? 

It was important to me to find a program based in Seattle because I had friends and my husband’s family in the area, in particular a well-established community of friends who I raced bikes with and enjoy cycling. I knew I would be able to continue to build my community outside of school, which for me was very important. I applied to UW because the RDN training program would provide me with learning opportunities and the opportunity to form professional connections within UW’s large Seattle area RDN network.  I considered where I planned to live and work in the early parts of my career, and options I would have through the program with internship placements locally was an important consideration. Choosing UW was a no-brainer when it comes to the vast opportunities for learning and preparing myself for work after graduation. UW is also one of the few dietetic coordinated programs in the country that offers funding. Dietetics as a field has a huge financial barrier to entry, and we need more programs like the UW GCPD program that remove as much of that financial barrier as possible by funding support.  

How do you see the importance of nutritional sciences in public health? 

So important! I often reflect back on the first research work I experienced as an undergrad at Oregon State University working in the OSU Wheat Quality lab. Working in that lab, I better understood how our agricultural systems impact the capacity for nutrition choice. Nutritional health is not just about what we eat, but about a greater food system that impacts how we are able to nourish our bodies, and this is where public health fits into nutritional science.  

Tell us about your research or recent projects. 

I was very fortunate to have a variety of different project opportunities at UW covering a wide range of topics. My first year in the program I collaborated with Dr. Sarah Collier on two food systems projects.  I worked as a research assistant on one project that explored farmer perceptions of climate change, and another project on cataloging and assessing existing higher education “food system” programs.  

In my second year in the program, I applied for the Leadership Education in Adolescent Health (LEAH) fellowship in partnership with Seattle Children’s Hospital (SCH). Through LEAH, I had the opportunity to work in the adolescent medicine clinic at SCH, and this is also where I developed my public health practicum with support of the amazing interdisciplinary LEAH faculty which included mentorship from UW alumna Casey McCoy (MPH/GCPD ‘19).  

For my practicum, I worked in the outpatient eating disorder program at Seattle Children’s where I conducted a needs assessment on the involvement of athletic trainers in eating disorder and relative energy deficiency prevention and treatment in Seattle area schools. I also developed a continuing education workshop for high school athletic trainers on the topics of eating disorders and relative energy deficiency in adolescent athletes. 

What are your future goals? 

Immediately after graduation, I hope to find a job in Seattle, and long-term I want to work in eating disorder prevention and treatment. I want to work in a space where I can work with children through early adulthood, which I envision will involve working in pediatrics or collegiate nutrition. I also want to continue to work with athletes in some capacity as a dietitian. Very long term, I hope to work in education and program development within dietetic graduate programs with the aim to improve cross-discipline learning within healthcare education. One of the amazing things about the field of nutrition, dietetics, and public health is that there are so many career paths, and you can explore many of them throughout your career. I have interests in a few different areas of nutrition and hope to spend time working in all of them at some point in my future.  

Outside of your studies, what activities do you enjoy? 

Most people who know me know that I ride bikes! I started racing when I was an undergraduate, and pre-COVID, I was working in the cycling industry and racing a lot. My life pretty much revolved around bikes (no pun intended)! When I moved to Seattle for graduate school, I was fortunate to join a rad team with some exceptional teammates. While I still love riding, I took a step back from racing this year for the first time since 2014, and that has given me time to explore and re-discover so many other activities I have not had the opportunity to participate in for a while. These include building a vegetable garden in my front yard, hiking, gravel riding, hosting lots of backyard BBQs, coaching, and doing many house projects! So many house projects!  

What do you enjoy most about living in Seattle? 

For me, community has been one of the things I have enjoyed most about living in Seattle. Everyone talks about the Seattle freeze, but I have found everyone in this city to be welcoming and inviting. Cycling was a huge help for me in making friends, the cycling community and teams here are amazing, and the road riding in Seattle is great. I live right off the Burke-Gillman Trail and can get to so many amazing rides! The outdoors in Seattle is spectacular, and all the nearby outdoor adventures are world class. Not far away you have Whistler, Mt Rainier, the Olympic National Forest, etc. If you like the outdoors, Seattle is a great place to live.  

What advice would you give a student who is considering graduate study with the UW Nutritional Sciences program? 

I remember calling my sister after opening my acceptance letter from UW and bursting into tears.  My sister asked me what was wrong, and I said, “I don’t know if I can do this.”   I was terrified because I would be moving away from my family and would be navigating a lot of change. She assured me, but it took a while to fully believe that. The first year was rough for me—not going to lie. The MPH program has a demanding load of classes. I had just gotten married. I had just moved furthest from my family that I had ever moved.  I was working as an RA and then a TA. I was trying to manage a reasonable training and racing load while not sacrificing too much school or too much performance.  I was trying to make new friends.  I was trying to do a lot. I had ups and downs. I made mistakes. I made sacrifices. I made breakthroughs. I learned so much.  And in August, I will graduate. Now that I am almost done with the program, I think about that moment when I called my sister crying, scared about starting this new chapter of my life. Here’s the thing: It was scary. Starting something new is scary. It is okay to be scared, and for some reason, people do not tell us this enough. It will also be hard. Graduate school is not the same as undergrad. Academics are challenging, and expectations are greater. But at UW, you will not be alone! I am so fortunate to have had a cohort of spectacular classmates who have been a key source of support.  I am also fortunate to have a rad team of bike friends who got me out of the house and school when I needed a break, and a husband who has supported me through all the ups and downs of the last two years. Now almost on the other end, I can tell you that despite it being scary, and despite it being hard, you will make it through to the other side and it will be worth it.  

Are you interested in studying nutritional sciences as a graduate student? Explore programs and RDN training offerings in the UW Nutritional Sciences Program.