How does it feel to be a student right now? CSU nutrition student in her own words

As with most universities across the nation, Colorado State University has fully transitioned to online teaching, as well as telepresence for working, counseling, and socializing. Despite these adjustments, the students, staff, faculty, and administrators within the College of Health and Human Sciences are holding true to our deeply held value that Rams take care of Rams. With that in mind, we reached out to Rebecca Rathburn, a fourth-year student in the Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition, to learn more about her experiences during this unprecedented time and hear how the CSU community can rally to support our students.

Becca Rathburn smiles in a green polo.

Rebecca Rathburn, fourth-year nutrition and food science student.

Like her peers, Rathburn was looking forward to her last several months of the semester at CSU. She was enjoying her classes, serving as president of the Dean’s Leadership Council, and was excited to start thinking about her future beyond her December graduation. Now, she and the vast majority of our students have dispersed back to their homes across Colorado, the country, and the world and they are settling into their new realities.

A time of transition

My name is Rebecca Rathburn and I am a fourth-year student studying nutrition and food science with a concentration in dietetics, and a minor in political science. I will be graduating in December 2020. At the start of spring break, I went home to Grand Junction, but quickly returned to Fort Collins before the state-wide shelter in place order was announced. Here in Fort Collins, I am living with my roommates and we are all experiencing our own learning curves as we acclimate to learning and working from home.

As a student, the transition from in-person to virtual classes has been a bit bumpy, but I am finally getting the hang of it. When I am not in my classes, my roommates and I try to take daily walks or runs and cook meals together. I have even cooked homemade lasagna for the first time! I have found that during this strange time, it’s important to have a daily routine, to stay active, to find some alone time, and to keep in contact with those that you love.

Three young women, Rebecca Rathburn and her roommates, pose for a photo outside on a trail.

Rebecca Rathburn, right, with her roommates enjoying a hike to exercise and maintain normalcy despite the abrupt change to their semester. 

As a fourth-year student, I have been reflecting on what things will be like once I graduate. CSU’s summer courses will be taught online, and many students will not be able to complete their summer internship or practicum as planned. I was offered an internship to serve as a Youth Ambassador for No Kid Hungry through the Larimer County Food Bank to gain experience in community nutrition, but I don’t know what this will look like moving forward. These experiences can be incredibly meaningful as they provide students with opportunities to network and learn more about their future field and industry. It’s also overwhelming to think about graduating into such an unknown job market.

Ultimately, I’d like to go through the process to become a registered dietitian. To become an RD, you must go through a matching process, complete a year-long internship, and then pass the RD exam. I will likely apply for the spring 2021 matching process.

Students who need support and someone to talk to about the challenging job market should reach out to the College of Health and Human Sciences Career Services team. You can make an appointment on the Career Services webpage to speak with Career Development Manager Kara Johnson to discuss your job search and tips for applying and interviewing during the COVID-19 pandemic.

How alumni can offer their support – Rams Helping Rams

Despite these challenges, I remain excited to graduate this fall and I cannot wait to join the amazing Ram Alumni Network. I know I will be in the company of incredibly talented and resilient alumni. If any CSU alumni are looking for ways to support current students during this difficult time, they could consider working with CSU’s Career Center to offer virtual networking spaces so students can learn about career paths and career fields. Alumni could also help graduating students by sharing job openings at their companies via CSU’s job posting service, Handshake. Even though services are remote, the Career Center is still offering many ways to continue recruiting CSU students.

If alumni are looking to support students facing immediate hardships, they can also consider supporting the Ram Aid fund. Ram Aid is a program at CSU that is working to provide relief to students who are, as a result of COVID-19, suffering from food insecurity, lack of equipment/resources, at risk of homelessness or still trying to travel home.