“I grew up on a lot of fatty foods that weren’t healthy. In college I started to change that.”
Chandra Davis, a former student in the Developing Healthy Communities Online Graduate Certificate program, began her academic career by earning a BS in Biology from Tuskegee University. Nutrition would later become a guiding theme in her life, but back then, although she knew Tuskegee had a nutrition program, it wasn’t yet her main focus.
“I had always loved to cook,” said Davis. This talent, combined with a newfound passion for preparing healthful foods eventually pointed her toward culinary school in 2009, and a career in the chef industry.
A chance sighting of The Friedman School listed among school closings on a snowy day inspired Davis to explore the idea of furthering her education. "I was watching the news in 2013,” said Davis, “Scrolling the school closings, I saw the Friedman School of Nutrition at Tufts. I sat up in my chair and said, 'Tufts has a nutrition program?’” She delved into researching Friedman’s programs immediately. “I truly believe it was divine intervention,” says Davis. “I was meant to see that.”
“My goal was to work in minority communities around healthy eating, showing people that you can still use cultural foods that you’re used to, but you can learn how to cook them in healthier ways.”
After some deliberation between program tracks, and a few informative virtual open houses later, she decided to take a closer look at the Developing Healthy Communities Online Graduate Certificate. The courses and program content fit perfectly with her day to day work as resident chef at A Better Chance, a program in Winchester for high school boys living away from home. Davis was able to maximize what she was learning and immediately put it into practice. The high school students are culturally diverse-- the sons of Jamaican, Nigerian, and Dominican families. “My goal was to work in minority communities around healthy eating, showing people that you can still use cultural foods that you’re used to, but you can learn how to cook them in healthier ways.” says Davis. “So far I’ve introduced my boys to quinoa, farro, amaranth, and brown rice.”
"...Working with people like my grandmother, going in and showing them that you can eat this, it can taste good. You have to try it at least once.”
Working with high school boys added an unexpected dimension to her goals. "Part of the program they’re in requires them to do sports. I became concerned about one boy who wanted to wrestle in a different weight class, and was going about losing weight the wrong way,” says Davis. "They (the students) weren’t being given information about healthy nutrition and weight management.” Davis used what she learned in the Theories of Behaviorial Change course to start to develop a better way for her students to learn. "Now I’m thinking about helping people develop healthier eating plans, for when they're playing sports, or if they have medical conditions. Working with people like my grandmother, going in and showing them that you can eat this, it can taste good. You have to try it at least once."
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