And the Student Loan Payoff Contest winners are …

It has truly been an honor to run our first-ever Dietitian Student Loan Payoff Contest. After receiving more than 950 applications, our corporate team decided on 10 finalists before making the incredibly tough decision on two outstanding grand-prize winners. We hope you’ll take a few minutes to meet the two dietitians who left our panel of dietitians in awe.

Matt Jones, RDN

Matt is a clinical dietitian with a mission bigger than dietetics. He loves his work in long-term care, but what fuels Matt every day is deeper.

“As a dietitian, and especially being male and also African American, you notice you’re different in this field,” Matt said. Matt was a massage therapist and a personal trainer before earning his RD credential and it’s been his mission to diversify every field in which he works.

Matt volunteers with the Minority Supplier Development Counsel, Diversify Dietetics and has been part of the Amplifying Melanated Voices movement. He’s also a personal trainer and carries his mission for more diversity to that field as well.

“I’ve always felt welcome in the dietetics field, but joining these organizations with like-minded individuals really fueled my passion to get more men, more African Americans in the field,” Matt said during his virtual interview with our team.

Matt has been a long-term care dietitian for 15 years, and he said working through the COVID-19 pandemic has been “by far the most challenging and unique circumstances” he has ever experienced. The community where he worked was hit hard with more than 28 residents dying in less than two months and more than 32 staff members testing positive. This no doubt left the long-term care community short staffed and in order to ensure the residents received adequate nutrition, Matt didn’t just step up his own game. He advocated for all staff — even administration — to step in and help with mealtime routines. And it worked!

This alone is quite a feat, but what makes this even more impressive is the fact that Matt is a consultant dietitian who worked at this site less than six months before COVID-19 hit. To have the passion, the skill and the personality to not only learn a new facility but also mesh so well that the team follows your leadership during a pandemic — well, that’s downright superhero status. Congratulations, Matt!

Christin Morgan, MS, RDN, CSG

One of the key qualities our panel searched for was an applicant who embodies altruism. From creating the Detroit Anti-Loneliness Project to offering pro-bono photography services during a pandemic, navigating a furlough and starting a new contract position all while raising a family — Christin’s picture should be in the dictionary next to the word altruistic.

Christin started the Detroit Anti-Loneliness Project in response to the no-visitor policy that was instituted at her long-term care community.

“I saw previously vibrant individuals wither away to nothing in their beds. Previously good eaters turned their noses up at their favorite foods. In a matter of a few weeks, despite interventions, so many died … and so many died alone,” Christin said in her application.

So Christin went to work on an outside-the-box solution to get her residents to eat. She thought maybe if they saw something bright, fun or neat on their lunch tray every day, it could cheer them up, get them to pick up the fork, smile for a minute and drink their Ensure. Christin started a Facebook page for the project and soon enough donations of money, crafts, flowers, games, paintings, magazines and more poured in.

To speak with Christin is to feel her passion for dietetics. And she may have brought us to tears during her virtual interview. We are so proud to recognize Christin as a Dietitian Student Loan Contest grand-prize winner. Congrats, Christin!

Thank you to everyone who applied! Stay tuned, we may just do this again 🙂