I graduated with my undergraduate degree in Food Science & Nutrition this summer and immediately dove into my master’s program continuing here at Central Washington University. It was a wild ride from applying to out-of-state colleges, a late admission to Central’s grad program and a job offer I couldn’t refuse. Navigating my way from being a student, while also taking the role of becoming a teacher is quite a change. I’m learning more about how to balance my schedule, bettering my time management and making time for myself when I feel like there is no time for me during the craziness of the week.
At the start of my grad program and teaching assistantship, I felt so overwhelmed. I was getting told to do things that I did not know like how to create a canvas page or add material to a canvas page to keep my students informed. When I met my group of graduate assistants (GA’s) I was told “It’s a learning experience for everyone, learn to roll with the punches.” Keep in mind, this was all happening with days to spare before the start of the Fall Quarter. I had thoughts of what if my students thought I’m a joke? What if they don’t take me seriously? I had to keep my cool and ensure that I have the knowledge and tools to teach others, I couldn’t get in my head.
My schedule has been crazy busy. Classes every day that I attend for my graduate-level program sometimes one or even three. In between all my classes, I have lab classes that I help the instructor assist with, and meetings regarding our labs to help have a better lesson plan for that week. I also am a GA for the peer nutrition education program this year which means while are new students are going through training this quarter, I’m in charge of seeing any new or rollover clients for nutrition counseling needs. I wanted to also stay involved in some clubs when possible, so I attend weekly Her Campus meetings and Nutrition Science Club. To say I am tired by the end of the week is an understatement.
With all this craziness I’ve realized balancing my time for everything must be extremely organized. I have to ensure I get back to emails from students and professors timely, complete assignments on time, grade assignments for my students and provide materials on time for them on Canvas. It’s all about making sure you have a planner to always have with you whether it be electronic or paper, (I’m old school and always carry around a planner notebook with me). I also recommend a whiteboard calendar and color coding all your classes, meetings and appointments to keep you in check.
The biggest change through all of this is realizing that I am somewhat of an instructor, and I am here to help students. I’m realizing from the professor’s standpoint, they have so many responsibilities. The countless questions they get whether in class or via email, grading assignments, dealing with technical issues during zoom classes and encouraging students to participate. I have a newfound respect for my professors and how much time and energy they put into helping us learn our craft.
I may be at the very beginning of all this, but with this comes a great learning experience in so many ways. I’m grateful I get to be a student as well as a teacher and help others gain a passion for food science and nutrition. To current and future graduate students that get this kind of opportunity, take it. It may come with exhausting days and many overwhelming moments. Still, it teaches me to be patient, learn to manage my time and continue to stay organized by staying on the task-focused at hand, getting a step closer to my dream job as a dietitian.