Meet alumna Gianna Roma

Gianna Roma
Gianna Roma

Nutritional sciences graduate Gianna Roma suggests that current students seize and create opportunities for themselves. Roma is putting that into practice in her own life. While working as an inpatient clinical dietitian, she finds time to assist the New England Patriots dietitian, studies to become a certified exercise physiologist and is active on social media helping others with their nutrition. Here is what she said in an interview.

What was your major in the College? When did you graduate? With what degree? My major was nutritional sciences with a focus in sports nutrition. I graduated in May 2015.

What CAHNR class was most useful to you? Medical Nutrition Therapy was most useful for my internship and also my current role as a clinical dietitian. It helped introduce me to the basics of clinical nutrition.

I also found Nutrition for Exercise and Sport very helpful. This class provided the basics for efficacy, safety and regulations of dietary supplements and health promoting foods. This class gave me applicable information I could apply to my life as part of the UConn women’s soccer team for four years.

Tell us some of your fond memories of UConn. Some of my fondest UConn memories revolve around being a student athlete on the women’s soccer team. I was the captain in my senior year and helped lead my team to the NCAA playoffs and to become All American League Champions. A lot of blood, sweat and tears were put into this. The hundreds of hours training, the excitement under the lights at Joseph J. Morrone Stadium, the good times, the tough times, the friendships I made have all shaped me into who I am today. I wouldn’t trade those memories for the world.

Another one of my fondest memories was the work I completed with Dr. Rodriguez through independent studies. Dr. Rodriguez, who is well known in the sports nutrition world, inspires me with the work she does and the knowledge she has.

I jumped on any opportunity she had for me. One research project I completed in her laboratory was focused on protein absorption. I also worked on a project with her doing educational handouts for athletes.

In addition, I enjoyed riding my moped around campus. I drove that thing to practice, lift training, class, the library, etc. With my nutrition courses and independent studies being near Horsebarn Hill, my moped became a very handy mode of transportation!

Gianna Roma at South Nassau Communities Hospital
Roma at South Nassau Communities Hospital

Please describe your current job. I currently work as an inpatient clinical dietitian in Boston at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center on a trauma/surgical and medicine floor. At my current job, I have a lot of exposure to nutrition support. I also currently work in the cardiology outpatient clinic where I educate patients referred to me for heart healthy diets.

In addition to my job, I do projects with the New England Patriots dietitian. I work on PowerPoints, handouts and meal plans, which get used by and applied to the players. This is something I love to do! My dream would be for this to lead to a job.

I also create meal plans and offer workout plans to interested clients.

Are you doing what you imagined you would be doing at this point in your life? Yes, my goal is to branch into sports nutrition. Before doing so, I want to have at least two years of clinical nutrition under my belt. I currently have a little over one year. So, I will pursue working more in the sports nutrition field. I know I’m on the right path to where I want to be.

Do you have any advice for current students that will help them in the future? Take any and all experiences that come your way. Don’t just wait for those experiences, but create them. Reach out to dietitians and others to ask for advice and opportunities. Don’t be shy. Get all the experience you can get!

For example, I reached out to local high schools and gave sport nutrition talks to sport teams. The kids love it, and it is great experience for me.

I also made my own website and Instagram page (@DietitianGianna). On my website, I offer meal and workout plans and recipes. I made business cards and distributed them. On the Instagram page, I post healthy recipes and health tips and connect with other RDs, which makes it a great networking opportunity for me.

Last year, I created a healthy holiday recipe for avocado chocolate mousse that was featured on WBZ Fox channel 5 news. In addition, I did a segment on rethinking holiday drinks which was featured on Fox TV and radio.

Is there anything else you would like us to know about you? After completing my undergraduate degree, I went on to complete my dietetic internship in NYC with a focus in medical nutrition therapy. I also simultaneously obtained my masters in dietetics online through URI. After that, I moved to Boston to start my current job. Last year, I obtained my certification as a personal trainer. Currently, I am studying to become a certified exercise physiologist.

My career goals include obtaining my CSSD (Certified Specialized Sports Dietitian) and CNSC (Certified Nutrition Support Clinician).

By Patsy Evans