By Jazelle Artman
The Outstanding Dietetic Student Award annually recognizes one student in each state that demonstrates leadership within dietetic programs. Youngstown State University student Ashley Chalupka was this year’s recipient of the award.
Chalupka received a Bachelor of Science with a focus in dietetics last spring and is currently enrolled in the master’s of public health program.
Chalupka also actively participates in student organizations. Chalupka is the president of the Student of Dietetics and a member of the Area Health Education Center for Scholars.
“Dietetics is basically treating disease with nutrition, whether it [is] in a hospital or trying to prevent disease starting with elementary school kids for Head Start programs. Really, nutrition is the basis for living,” Chalupka said.
YSU requires a master’s program to train students to become dietetics professionals. Students will also have to complete a minimum of 1000 hours of supervised practice or internship and be verified by a program director for 30 to 40 core competencies to take the Ohio state exam to become a registered dietician.
Jeanine Mincher, a health professions professor, said she learned of the award through a community of professional dietetics.
“The award was brought to my attention by Dima Esper and Dima is the president of our local dietetics professional group. It’s called the Mahoning Valley Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Dima is the president and is also a part-time faculty member in the health professions department and alerted me because she is active in the Ohio Dietetics Association,” Mincher said.
Mincher and Esper decided to nominate Chalupka for not only exhibiting excellence within the classroom but for also being a part of many activities outside of class.
“Ashley’s an excellent student. She’s always at the top of her game. She works very hard. When I’ve had her in class, she’s always well prepared. She’s organized and she likes to stay on top of things,” Mincher said.
Although past records have not been formally checked, Mincher is unaware of previous winners from the university, making Chalupka the first recipient from YSU.
“There could have been someone who received the award prior to me coming to YSU but I am not sure of it. I can’t think of any one who’s received this award prior to Ashley,” Mincher said. “Definitely, definitely a feather in Ashley’s cap and it’s very well deserved. We are really proud of her and very happy for her.”
Chalupka is projected to graduate in fall 2023 with a master’s degree in public health.
“In December, I plan to sit for my [registered dietician] exam to become a registered dietitian and [possibly] work in the community. [I am] not exactly sure yet. I want to have my own private practice eventually and help clients with weight management,” Chalupka said.
Chalupka will attend a ceremony April 14. at Columbus State Community College to receive the award.