Twins Briana and Bailey Chavez, first-generation college students pursuing a bachelor’s degree in nutrition from Texas A&M College of Agricultural and Life Sciences in Nutrition, have been interested in health and wellness since sixth grade. increase.
“We are both perfectionists and take our bodies very seriously,” Bailey said. “But my real interest in proper nutrition started when I developed an eating disorder in seventh grade. That’s what inspired me to add a psychology minor.”
Bailey said she sees nutrition as a “holistic” effort that includes both body and mind.
“Because it took both mind and body to overcome an eating disorder, my nutrition major and psychology minor helped me develop better nutritional habits and health, both physically and mentally. I feel that I can help others on the spiritual side,” she said.
Breana said her interest in nutrition from an early age was largely due to an impressive health teacher at a small school in Big Sandy, and she also faced many of the same nutrition challenges as her sister. He said he had to overcome.
“We are very close. Bailey’s struggles were mine,” she said. “But it’s so great that we were with each other and were able to work together to address and overcome our difficulties so that we could both have a healthier relationship with food. was helpful.”
During high school, the twins attended FFA and became interested in agricultural science, seeing the organization’s agricultural science fairs as an opportunity to help promote nutrition for both youth and adults. They also excelled academically. Briana was the valedictorian of Harmony High School and Bailey was the school’s orator.
Now in their junior years at Texas A&M University, the Chavez twins plan to become registered dietitians by taking a combined master’s degree and nutrition internship program. Ultimately, they hope to open a personalized, private nutrition clinic where they can work together to help those striving for better nutrition and overall health.
“Here at Texas A&M, Brianna and Bailey are both very ambitious and passionate about their work and the field of nutrition,” says Karen Bearsard, Ph.D., R.D., Associate Professor of Education in the Department of Nutrition. said.
Berhardt said the twins are passionate about achieving excellence and participating in high-impact educational experiences and activities that promote their professional skills and development. For example, two of them work as undergraduate researchers in the RD mentorship program. The RD Mentorship Program is a national program that matches registered dietitians and nutrition students in mentor-mentor relationships.
“Bailey and Brianna are both very detailed and accurate in their data collection and are both competent team members,” she said.
The focus of the RD Mentorship Program is to facilitate professional experiential learning opportunities for nutrition students by supporting the projects of nutrition students pursuing their goals of becoming registered dietitians.
Through this program, Bailey and Briana will collaborate on nutritional research with Beartard and Dr. Kristen Hicks Roof, R.D.N.
“As a student-researcher in the RD Mentorship Program, I work with my fellow student-researchers to effectively market and operate the mentorship program,” Briana said. “Specifically, we help with recruitment, social media management, professional development sessions, research writing, and research presentations.”
Bailey said the program was a life-changing experience for her.
“This program helped me develop my skills in writing, marketing, program planning, and time management,” she said. “I learned how to work collaboratively as part of a team. .”
Bailey and Briana recently presented a poster entitled “The Benefits of the RD Mentorship Program for Mentee Attending the Nutritionist Internship Match” at Texas A&M Student Research Week, winning first place in the Agricultural and Life Sciences School of Posters category. .
Programs that prepare students for careers
Bailee and Breanna also participate in Texas A&M’s nutrition tutoring program, which is accredited by the Council for Accreditation in Nutrition and Nutrition Education (ACEND).program We prepare students to continue their education with the goal of becoming a registered dietitian.
Biersard, director of the ACEND program at Texas A&M, said, “While nutrition education provides an opportunity to help improve the health of diverse communities, the ACEND program’s strong scientific foundation enables students to explore interdisciplinary impact.” It also prepares them to be effective communicators.”
Baerhardt said the program also provides a foundation for success in nutrition internships to become registered dietitians and graduate programs in areas such as nutrition, food science, public health, exercise physiology and other life sciences. .
“I have no doubt that the courses I am taking are well prepared for my future career as a nutrition professional,” said Briana. “The Texas A&M Nutrition Program prepares students for their future careers by deepening their knowledge of nutrition through a science and research-based curriculum. It also helps students improve their collaboration, communication and professional skills.” .”
Bailey said the classes required as part of the program are rigorous and intense, but also fun.
“I am 100% convinced that my time at Texas A&M has prepared me for success after graduation,” she said. “In my experience, to be a successful nutrition student, you must be motivated, detail-oriented, efficient, and able to manage competing deadlines. helpful in terms of
Other nutrition-related activities
Brianna also participates in the Department of Nutrition Honors Program and attends weekly sessions. In addition, she is the Diversity and Inclusion Ambassador for the Department of Nutrition, Secretary of the Texas Student Dietetic Association, and a member of the TAMU Association of Dietetic Dietitians, NDA.
Bailee is also a member of the Department of Nutrition’s Diversity and Inclusion Committee. She also worked as a research assistant in the Aggie Research Program as a student research fellow for her PhD student. She is president-elect of the Texas Student Dietetic Association and a member of the NDA.
In addition to Student Research Week, the twins also presented research at the Scientific Diversity Research Symposium hosted by the Society for the Advancement of Chicano/Hispanic and Native Americans in Science.
Over the Christmas holidays, Bailey and Briana returned to their hometowns to give presentations on nutrition to elementary and middle school students. They also volunteer with UT Health Tyler and run a shared Instagram account that serves as a digital scrapbook of their work.
Scholarships Offer Opportunities
Briana and Bailey cite financial aid from scholarships as a primary reason they were able to attend Texas A&M to pursue their academic and career dreams.
“We were first-generation college students in a small town, and going to college was not a top priority for our family and community,” Briana said. “So getting financial support through scholarships was really important for me to get into a prestigious university like Texas A&M.”
Briana was awarded a full scholarship from the Terry Foundation.
“I’ve been eyeing it ever since I first heard about the Terry Foundation scholarship in eighth grade,” she said. “And thanks to the support of my teachers and a lot of hard work, I was able to get it. It was also an interesting experience because I lived there.”
Bailey did not receive a full scholarship, but through the FFA she won a scholarship to the Houston Livestock Show, a rodeo, and other scholarships. She and her sister also won a scholarship from the Hagan Scholarship Foundation.
“The opportunity to go to Texas A&M has allowed us to be pioneers in our families and communities and continue to motivate others through positive example,” Briana said.
The sisters also receive nutrition scholarships from the ministry.
“The Faculty of Nutrition offers scholarships to undergraduates each year to make higher education more affordable and accessible,” Baerhardt said. “We award scholarships to undergraduate students each year and support graduate students through assistantships, fellowships, travel and research grants.”
Berhart said the skill sets and passion Bailey and Briana bring to the field of nutrition will allow them to make significant contributions.
“I am confident that they will become leaders in the nutritionist profession and have a positive impact. Whatever they choose to do after graduation, it will have a positive impact,” she said. .