Far above and beyond

Meat and potatoes. They’re a culinary power couple, but Rachel Woods considers herself more of a “soup and salad person.” Still, the community health major learned something from the steady diet of meat and potatoes she had while studying abroad in Prague.

The way food is sourced, processed, and consumed is different in the Czech Republic, says Woods. “The culture is more health conscious than in the United States – and actually, most places in Europe are.”

Prague is where Woods learned to love nutrition and discovered her calling, but being able to study there wasn’t always part of her plans.

Woods has had to work hard to pay for college, she says, since her father’s death several years ago. Every summer she lines up three or four jobs. And during the school year, beginning as a freshman, she’s worked for KU Endowment.

That job included calling donors for the Far Above capital campaign. During her junior year, Woods received the Chris and Marilyn Anderson Scholarship – one of the 735 new student scholarships created by the campaign.

The scholarship meant that Woods didn’t have to worry about money for one summer. Career path still undecided, she took an internship at a Czech Republic nutrition clinic, a program offered through KU’s International Internship program within the Office of Study Abroad.

For two months, she shadowed a health coach, studied weight loss programs, and set up meal plans for European clientele after using a body scanner called “Tanita” to assess their nutritional needs. “It just clicked,” she says. “This is what I want to do with my life.”

Woods eventually sees herself working for a private health clinic or a hospital, consulting with patients with diabetes and other diet-sensitive conditions.

For now, she concentrates on completing her senior year, applying for graduate programs in dietetics, volunteering for a student health organization and the Meals on Wheels program, where she delivers — yes — a lot of meat and potatoes.


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