Meet Cassie Winter, Bachelor of Nutrition at Torrens Graduate and a Program Coordinator & Educator on the NEST program at Ozharvest.
After years of working in different areas, she has decided to pursue her love and passion for nutrition and return to education, to study Bachelor of Nutrition. Since she started her studies, she has volunteered with Ozharvest on their NEST program and was offered a permanent position.
What motivated you to study Nutrition?
I have been very fortunate in enjoying a few different career paths. After obtaining a nursing diploma and practicing for a few years, I pursued my business administration diploma and transitioned into the business world where I worked in commercial real estate then corporate travel. While I experienced success in the business world, as the years passed by I also grew more unfulfilled. I have always enjoyed a healthy lifestyle, which included an interest in nutrition and cooking. This led me to the idea of turning a hobby I loved into a career and I knew formal education would be critical. After several years of working in uninspiring jobs that had nothing to do with my passion, I decided to go back to uni so I could turn my love of nutrition into a career.
What mode of the study did you choose and why?
I started on campus at Pyrmont in Sydney. It was an intimate campus and I met some wonderful and talented people – students and lecturers alike. The Bachelor of Nutrition program (online) was a blend of science and nutrition – and when I learned about the public health electives, I knew it was the right program for me! Applying my nutrition education to working with vulnerable people at a population level, becoming involved in advocacy and possibly helping to shape Australia’s nutrition policy was a very exciting career path for me. Being both driven and self-motivated, online suited me well as I could adapt my study hours to suit my schedule.
How did this change impact your long-term career goals?
Once at Torrens University Australia, I realised I didn’t want to wait until I graduated to gain industry experience so I started volunteering with OzHarvest in their NEST program. I loved it! Fast forward 15 months and they hired me to manage the program.
“Applying my nutrition education to working with vulnerable people at a population level, becoming involved in advocacy and possibly helping to shape Australia’s nutrition policy was a very exciting career path for me. Being both driven and self-motivated, online suited me well as I could adapt my study hours to suit my schedule.”
What were some of the most interesting things you learned?
I loved learning about how our body digests, absorbs and utilises nutrients on a molecular level – it’s so complex and fascinating. I also enjoyed learning how to plan, develop, implement and evaluate public health programs. Broadly, developing a sound background in nutritional science is so important for having a credible career in the industry. It’s also empowering to know how to apply that science background to debunk nutrition myths and misunderstandings; which the industry is full of!
What is the best piece of career (or life) advice that you received?
Don’t be afraid to make mistakes, they are inevitable and are wonderful learning tools. Always focus on being the best version of yourself. Never compare yourself to, or compete with others as it distracts you from your purpose and erodes your self-esteem.
What are some of the achievements you are most proud of and why?
I am proud that I didn’t let fear get in the way of going back to uni later in life (I was in my late 30’s). I am proud that I volunteered over 400 hours in the NEST program. It was personally so rewarding and the silver lining is that it has also turned out to be professionally rewarding!
Being hired by OzHarvest to run the NEST program before my degree was complete was a massive achievement. I also published my first article in the Public Health Association of Australia national newsletter in August and did my first guest lecture at Sydney Uni in October 2017, and have also been asked to do the same at University of Wollongong mid-2018!
So many rewarding opportunities are presenting and I’m saying YES to all that inspire (and scare) me! I am embracing the philosophy of: “Go confidently in the direction of your dreams! Live the life you’ve imagined”. ― Henry David Thoreau
What are some of your hobbies?
I love yoga, cooking, dining out, wine, my adorable sausage dogs and travelling. Sharing all of this with my partners is so rewarding! At the moment, finishing my last three subjects is also my project/hobby as it occupies most of my time when I’m not at OzHarvest! I also have several other professional aspirations that I intend to pursue in the New Year, once my degree is complete.
Do you have any advice for someone looking to study Nutrition?
Do your research on what programs are available as there are more education offerings in nutrition now. I would also say; if you’re serious about being in the industry – get a degree as you will never regret having a higher qualification, especially when it comes to future career potential.