Nutrition and Food Management Program Recognizes Aspiring Dietitians

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

ORANGEBURG, S.C. – South Carolina State University is currently the only historically black college or university in the state that offers a nutrition program that is nationally accredited by the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND). ACEND is the accrediting agency for education programs that prepare students for careers in nutrition as registered dietitians, nutritionists and dietetic technicians.

The university’s Department of Family and Consumer Sciences Nutrition and Food Management Program addresses nutrition as a method of prevention of many chronic diseases, as well as a treatment. The department is recognizing two of its recent graduates, Sabrina Gordon and Esther Udonsi, who have excelled in the nutrition program and are on the pathway to becoming registered dietitians.

A registered dietitian (RD) or registered dietitian nutritionist (RDN) is a food and nutrition expert who has met the following criteria:

  • Complete a minimum of a bachelor’s degree at a U.S. regionally accredited university or college or foreign equivalent, and coursework through an ACEND- accredited didactic program in dietetics or coordinated program in dietetics
  • Complete 1200 hours of supervised practice through an ACEND-accredited dietetic internship, coordinated program in dietetics or an individualized, supervised practice pathway offered through an ACEND-accredited program
  • Pass a national examination administered by the Commission on Dietetic Registration

The work environments of RDs or RDNs include hospitals, clinics, and other health-care facilities, sports nutrition industries, corporate wellness programs and other food and nutrition-related industries.

The university’s Nutrition and Food Management Program has announced that 100 percent of its 2020 graduates have applied to an accredited and supervised practice program and were accepted.

Gordon and Udonsi have made a lasting impression on leaders of the program, due to their dedication as students, and now, graduates, as they continue their journey to becoming experts in the field of dietetics.

1890 June 24Gordon, a native of Lexington, South Carolina, recently received a Bachelor of Science degree in nutrition and food management from SC State. For the past six years, she has worked for the Lexington Medical Center in West Columbia, South Carolina, where she realized she could combine her love for cooking with her passion for nutrition. Gordon graduated from Lexington High School and attended Midlands Technical College. She later transferred to SC State University to pursue her dream career as a registered dietitian.

During her tenure at SC State, she was inducted into the National Society of Leadership and Success and Kappa Omicron Nu, which is a national honor society for the human sciences. She also served on the executive boards of the Nutrition Association and Family and Consumer Sciences student unit. Gordon aspires to become a registered dietitian for the South Carolina Department of Mental Health.

In addition to preparing students for a rewarding career in dietetics, SC State’s Nutrition and Food Management Program aims to promote diversity within the field.

“According to a recent article in “Food and Nutrition Magazine,” a 2017 survey found that only 3 percent of RDs are Black or African-American. Our program is working to increase this number,” said Director of SC State’s Didactic Program in Dietetics and registered dietitian nutritionist, Carmen Thompson.

Gordon is looking forward to not only serving in the field as a minority, but helping other minorities receive the nutritional care they need.

“I believe my patients will be able to relate to me and will have more representation as they manage their dietary plans,” Gordon said.

In the fall of this year, Gordon will attend Viterbo University in La Crosse, Wisconsin, where she will complete her dietetic internship.

1890 June 24Udonsi, a native of Abuja, Nigeria, also recently earned a Bachelor of Science degree in nutrition and food management from SC State. She came to the U.S. in 2013 on a full scholarship to pursue her dream of playing basketball while going to school.

In 2015, she graduated from North Central Texas Academy in Granbury, Texas. She attended Western Texas College in Snyder, Texas, where she earned an associate degree in pre-medicine. After earning her associate degree, she transferred to SC State, where she played on the women’s basketball team for two years. During her tenure at SC State, she was a member of the Dr. Emily England Clyburn Honors College, a member of the executive board of the Nutrition Association and was inducted into Kappa Omicron Nu.

Udonsi is focused on continuing her education, as she works toward helping others stay healthy.

“I believe in prevention rather than cure. Working as a dietitian will give me the opportunity to educate people on steps to take to prevent future illnesses. I am excited, and I am looking forward to this great opportunity,” Udonsi said.

She was accepted into the Master of Public/Registered Dietitian Program at the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill. Through the program this fall, Udonsi will be working towards a master’s degree in public health, with a focus on becoming a registered dietitian.

Thompson discussed the vital role nutrition plays in overall health and how significant it is for students to pursue a career in dietetics.

“As an RDN, I have seen the necessity of the medical nutrition therapy we provide. Our community in South Carolina is ranked near the top with persons having chronic diseases, such as obesity, diabetes mellitus type 2, chronic kidney disease and cancer. These chronic conditions and others require medical nutrition therapy as part of the plan of care. Educating the public on purchasing healthy foods and preparing a healthier diet may help reduce the numbers of persons with these conditions,” Thompson said.

She also mentioned that in the time of COVID-19, graduates such as Gordon and Udonsi will be able to inform the public about how to create a well-balanced meal plan, which may help to build the immune system.

For more information about the Nutrition and Food Management Program, contact Carmen Thompson at