Luisa Garrett

Luisa Garrett

President's ScholarSecond time honoree
College of Applied Sciences and Arts
Nutritional Science/Dietetics

I chose to major in Nutrition Science after starting my family, and needing to find something to feed them each night!  In the process of learning how to do that, I discovered a love of cooking and an enjoyment delicious food.  I also came to realize the importance of making healthful choices in order to feel my best at a time when there were many demands upon my time and energy, and thought that others should have the chance to learn about what a big difference diet can make in how we feel.  When I realized that there was a profession out there that included all those different components, I decided to become a registered dietitian (R.D.).  Today, I am very interested in local food systems issues, including the ways that limited access to fresh, healthful foods perpetuates cycles of health disparities in underserved communities.

I am honored to receive this award, as I feel that it is a testament to a lot of very hard work on my part.  I stayed focused on my goals while working almost full time, pursuing various volunteer positions, and taking care of my family.  I also feel that it honors the many family members who have offered their assistance and support over the very long time it took me to get the cusp of graduation.  Finally, I think that this award is not just mine, but should be seen as a recognition of every student who comes back to college perhaps a bit later than most, and every parent who has to balance work and family responsibilities with their academics in order to move forward toward a better life for themselves and their children.

Marjorie Freedman, PhD, has been hugely influential in encouraging me to get involved in campus and community life, and to pursue academic excellence at every turn.  She sets the bar very high, and it has been a challenge and a privilege to try to meet her expectations.  Jennifer Waldrop, R.D., is our campus nutritionist, and she has been my supervisor as a peer health educator with the Nutrition Education Action Team.  Working with her has brought another facet to my experience here, helping me apply the lessons I’ve learned in the classroom to real-life situations.  Beyond that, I would also say that the entire faculty and staff of the nutrition department are outstanding.  Each one of them has in some way taken a moment to respond to my concerns, or to reassure me about how I am doing, or has worked with me to make it possible for me to balance school and family responsibilities. 

Academic excellence is possible for every one of us.  I am not a genius, or brilliant – I just work really, really hard to meet my goals.  Ten years ago I was literally homeless, and in the grips of an abusive relationship.  I have not been afraid to ask from help when I needed it.  I take care of myself by making time to go for a run or get together with friends.  I roll up my sleeves and apply myself diligently, keeping my eyes on the eventual payoff.  Any of us can do these things. Today, I am about to graduate and enter into a career where I will be helping others make positive changes in their lives.  I have been blessed to have a very rich, full experience here, and I have been fortunate to pursue my degree at SJSU.

A few words from her nominating professor

 “I have had the pleasure to teach, supervise and mentor Luisa over the past three years…she is the only student I know that in addition to her strong scholarship, holds leadership positions at SJSU as well as in the community, has four different jobs, and still finds time to be with her family and exercise!  Specifically, while taking a full and rigorous academic load, Luisa works as a market manager at two local farmers’ markets, a diet technician at a local organization that helps teens with recovery from eating disorders and dual diagnosis, a menu service volunteer at a local medical center, and is the outreach coordinator for an on-campus peer education nutrition program (known as the Nutrition Education Action Team or NEAT).  In addition, she is an officer in NEAT, and co-chairs the Food Providers sector of Healthy Silicon Valley, a community organization which meets monthly, plans events and activities, and advocates for a safe, sustainable food supply.  She does all this while raising a young daughter, volunteering in her daughter’s school, and also running marathons.”

– Professor Marjorie Freedman