What does a day in the life of Catherine look like?
I recently went through a career change, and I am very fortunate to have this opportunity to pursue a career as a registered dietitian. I had always wanted to be a dietitian, but it took four years of college and graduating with an Economics degree to realize that yes, helping people as a dietitian was my true calling. Since then, each day has been dedicated towards this goal. I currently work at Schommer & Sons, Inc. which is a successful, family-owned general contracting company in Portland, OR. I have absorbed and learned a little bit of everything during my years here. Anything from managing contracts and billings with our subcontractors, to assisting project managers and engineers, I have gained many valuable skills. When I am not working at Schommer & Sons, I am at Legacy Emanuel Medical Center working alongside Ms. Ali Berry who is a RD and the Hospitality Suite & EPIC System Administrator for the 5 Legacy hospitals within the Portland Metro area. I am so blessed to be able to develop a wide variety of valued skills required at both jobs. However, I am even more grateful for the people I have met and worked alongside with who have become great mentors and my biggest supporters throughout this process.
If you could give one piece of advice to a dietetic intern, or someone who is interested in becoming an RD, what would it be?
Being in this current position, I would tell those who are interested to not be afraid to pursue this career wholeheartedly. Even if it means you have to take a few steps back in order to pursue dietetics, it is worth it! If this profession is truly where you see yourself thriving, and the very thing that gives you an unwavering confidence that you didn’t have before, then the commitment and hard work should never deter you away from this opportunity!
If you could change one thing about the nutrition/dietetics world, what would it be?
I would emphasize the phrase “strong is the new skinny”, and change the mentality that the answer to losing weight comes in the form of a magic pill. Becoming a healthy you does not always require shedding pounds, but it definitely entails dedication, hard work, moderation, and the correct education! It isn’t about quick solutions or “flawless” body images as the end goal. It is researching credible information that fits you and your goals, and ultimately aids in you practicing positive and healthy habits.
What books have shaped you and your practice the most?
Success is a Choice, by Rick Patino with Bill Reynolds
Why We Get Fat: And What to Do About It, by Gary Taubes
Quarterlife Crisis, by Alexandra Robbins & Abby Wilner
What is your favorite travel spot?
My favorite travel spot, hands-down, is the Philippines. I have a lot of family over there and always have a great time sharing meals and catching up with all of them. The beaches are great, the people are so hospitable, and the tropical fruits are addicting! When we visit, it’s all about family and great food!
What do you do to de-stress or find balance in your life?
I thought I knew what stress was during college, but it wasn’t until after college that life became much more stressful. I had the tendency to get caught up in work, and focus so much on it that I neglected everything else. Whether school work or my work now, it became my top priority until I realized it took a toll on me. To combat this overwhelming feeling, I found a number of ways that have helped me de-stress, and have been tremendous help in finding that balance I need. I find relief in working out indoors and outdoors, playing different sports, listening to music, and baking with my mom (who is a very talented cook and baker!). However, my biggest and most reliable escape from stress is being with family. I grew up with a lot of my cousins who I saw as my brothers and sisters. Spending time with them, laughing, joking, and talking about the most random things were always the trick to getting back on track!
Tell us about an accomplishment you are proud of, personally or professionally
I am most proud of my decision to pursue a career as a registered dietitian. Most of my life, I followed a straight path that took you through school and promised a career in the end. Always being afraid to stray and turn from this path prevented me from trying new things and as a result, I lacked confidence in many areas of my life. A few years ago, I made the decision to go back to school for a different career, which was not easy. It took some time to get over the fact I would be, in a way, starting from square-one. It was hard to give up the opportunity I had in front of me; starting to work and earn money from the education I had already received. For the first time, I chose to stray from the path and take a leap. Since my decision to change careers, it has been hard, I won’t lie, but I have never had so much fun working in my life. I have been fortunate to shadow a number of RDs in different areas of this profession. My current position at Legacy Emanuel has given me experiences I never thought I could have achieved some years ago when I was researching about becoming an RD. Now that I have been immersed in the career environment that I’ve always hoped for, I have never been so proud of myself for taking that turn and pursuing something that gives me confidence.
How did you end up in Portland?
I was born and raised in NE Portland. I left for college up in Spokane, WA so not too far from home, but far enough to learn how to be on my own. After college I moved back to Portland and have continued to work, attend school, and gain amazing experiences with different RDs around Portland. Now I am on my way back to Spokane for a nutrition program that will bring me one step closer to becoming a RD!
What is your favorite local Portland business and why?
This is easy, Studio 3, Inc.! They are the largest independently-owned commercial photography studio in the Northwest! They have two facilities; the first started here in Portland and the other location is in Seattle. They provide advertising, packaging, multimedia, outdoor, asset libraries and much more whether in their studios or on location. They encompass a wide variety of bright and unique talent which is evident in their work. Of course my favorite photographer is their very own co-founder, Henry Ngan, who happens to be my dad! Seeing my dad’s success from following his passion has been a positive influence on me. His quiet wisdom and creativity never ceases to amaze me, and I am so proud and honored to be his daughter.