From cooking to crew, nutrition senior made most of time at URI

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New Jersey native aims to become registered dietician after graduation

KINGSTON, R.I. – May 19, 2010 – To say that senior Talene Kachigian has experienced a well-rounded education during her time at the University of Rhode Island is an understatement.

Since arriving in Kingston as a freshman, the dietetics major from Flemington, N.J. has been a varsity athlete after having never participated in organized sports, spent a semester as a food service intern in Rome, Italy, filmed her own cooking show, worked as a URI tour guide and interned as a diet technician with Kent Hospital in Warwick.

Did we mention that she also lived in Washington, D.C. during the summer after her junior year so she could intern at Georgetown University Hospital shadowing infection prevention specialists? During her free time in the nation’s capital that summer, she met with members of Congress to discuss normalizing relations between Turkey and Armenia as a member of the Armenian Assembly of America.

Kachigian said she felt connected to the University from the time she stepped on campus for Welcome Day. She learned about the Honors Program and Leadership Studies minor and realized it was a fit for her. As a freshman, she joined the women’s crew team as the coxswain.

“I had never done sports growing up, unless you count the marching band in high school,” Kachigian said. “There was a very rigid schedule with crew in terms of practices and competition, and I benefitted from the discipline and commitment needed to be a team member.”

While she enjoyed the experience, Kachigian left crew after her freshman year so she could explore other areas of college life. As a tour guide, she gained communication skills and enjoyed helping potential students find their own passion at URI. For herself, that passion was nutrition.

Kachigian’s decision to choose nutrition as a field of study was heavily influenced by Pulitzer-prize winning author Upton Sinclair’s muckraking novel exposing the meat-packing industry, The Jungle. After graduation, she will complete a 10-week food service clinical rotation with Sodexo at Chestnut Hill Hospital in Allentown, Pa. as she works toward her goal of becoming a registered dietician.

As part of her studies, Kachigian spent time doing educational outreach efforts with elementary school students in West Kingston. Through surveys and interactions with the students, she taught them about food nutrition, which was the impetus for a senior project, her own cooking show.

Aimed at her fellow college students, Kachigian produced and hosted Cooking With Tal, which provided lessons in food nutrition on a college budget.

“I started thinking about myself and many of my friends who live off campus and are handling food on their own for the first time,” Kachigian said. “We want to eat healthy, but we are on a limited budget. This was a way to show how it can be done with some planning.”

While Kachigian enjoyed the process of being on camera, she wants to build her credentials as a registered dietitian before becoming the next Rachel Ray.

“College is not just a place to get an education, but it’s a time to nurture your growth as a person,” Kachigian said. “At URI, I was able to realize what I had dreamed was the college experience, and I was able to explore a number of different areas as I found my niche.”

Pictured above

Talene Kachigian

URI Department of Communications & Marketing photo by Michael Salerno Photography.