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Helping People Through Their Diets: How This Scholar Found Her Way To A Career in Dietetics

Diyanah Daud Chua is a recipient of the Healthcare Merit Award and is pursing a Bachelor of Science with Honours in Dietetics and Nutrition programme at the Singapore Institute of Technology.

Diyanah Daud Chua is no stranger to hard work and sacrifice. Growing up, both of her parents worked hard to make ends meet. They also had an autistic son who required regular care, and this was something Diyanah regularly helped out with.

All of this served to strengthen Diyanah's resolve to care for others and help them change their lives for the better. In fact, she often looked up to her parents, who sacrificed time and money to provide their children with the best. Diyanah's mother, in particular, deserves special mention as she opted to give up on a career and spend time caring for her autistic son.

While this would burden the family's finances heavily, her parents never let it show. And it is this inner strength that Diyanah has come to lean on during the most challenging times.

Making A Change

Given her love for science, Diyanah originally intended to pursue a Chemical and Biological Engineering degree after completing her A-levels at Tampines Meridian Junior College.

However, that wouldn't be the case as she felt conflicted after her first semester at university. Even though she loved science, Diyanah felt as if something was missing, but she couldn't figure out exactly why.

And so after speaking to her parents, she made the bold decision to leave university.

Citing her mother, Diyanah explains how she found the courage to take the next step, "My mom always told me that if you allow your passion to become your purpose, then it will one day become your profession."

"And this gave me the courage to find my true passion. My mom has always been an anchor in my life, and without her support, I probably wouldn't be here."

After a period of soul searching and plenty of research, Diyanah realised there was a way for her to combine her love of science and helping people. And that was through the world of dietetics.

As she says, "I've always enjoyed taking on a hands-on approach to things and communicating with people. And the idea of pursuing a career in the healthcare sector through the dietetics profession appealed to my interests."

The Beginning Of Something New

Intrigued, she set out to learn more about dietetics and its various career prospects. As an eager self-starter, Diyanah seized the initiative by enrolling for several relevant online courses.

Soon enough, everything began falling into place, and she loved every minute of it. Thanks to her prior experience as a dedicated netball and softball player, Diyanah was already familiar with the basics of maintaining a healthy lifestyle and diet..

She says, "My interest in sports and passion for science came together when I started learning more about dietetics, especially the part where we learn about how our food intake can have a positive or negative impact on the human body and its performance."

"I love how dietitians have such an important role in healthcare. Whether it's participating in post-operative care or helping our patients live healthier lives, a career in dietetics allows me to combine my passion for helping people with my love of science."

Having discovered her passion, Diyanah began sending applications to various universities, including the Singapore Institute of Technology (SIT). She also applied for internships and job attachments at healthcare institutes across Singapore.

Setbacks and Opportunities

Unfortunately, that was the peak of the COVID-19 outbreak in Singapore, and many healthcare institutes were not accepting applicants. While disappointed and anxious, this setback did little to dampen her enthusiasm.

So instead, she doubled down and took on a part-time job at a local F&B outlet which helped her learn more about nutrition from the ground up. Diyanah was tasked with preparing healthy juices and smoothies for customers in her new role.

Never one to pass up on a good opportunity, she gave it her all and worked hard to understand why certain ingredients were used. From immune-boosting ingredients to energy-rich foods, her job helped her consolidate both academic and practical knowledge.

Opening Doors

After she aced her admissions interview, Diyanah was offered a place in the Bachelor of Science with Honours in Dietetics and Nutrition programme at SIT. Interesting fact: the Singapore Institute of Technology is the first autonomous university in Singapore to offer such a degree.

The 4-year programme requires students to undergo a combination of theoretical and clinical training in all aspects of dietetics. Students are trained to utilise scientific and nutritional knowledge to promote good health, prevent disease, and help patients manage chronic health conditions.

But before she could fully commit herself, Diyanah wanted to reduce the burden on her parents, who still had three children to care for. And so, through research and with help from friends and family, Diyanah came to learn about the Healthcare Merit Award.

The Healthcare Merit Award is a scholarship offered by Healthcare Scholarships to students interested in pursuing a degree in the health sciences. These include disciplines such as Speech Therapy, Nursing, Diagnostic Radiography, and of course Dietetics.

Recognising this golden opportunity, Diyanah applied for and was awarded with the scholarship after she impressed interviewers from her scholarship panel interview.

Plans For The Future

After graduating, Diyanah will be serving her bond of 4 years with Singapore Health Services (SingHealth) as a fully-fledged Dietitian.

In the long-term, she hopes to move into the research career track. Here, she will have the opportunity to participate in various research projects and clinical trials. All of which would allow Diyanah to improve her professional knowledge in the field of Dietetics.

She also has plans to join the Singapore Nutrition and Dietetics Association (SNDA) where she can contribute further to the dietetics profession in Singapore. And by doing so, make a positive change in the lives of Singaporeans from all walks of life.

Diyanah's chosen path is aligned with the Ministry of Health's Healthier SG initiative which aims to promote healthier lifestyles through a combination of preventative care and healthier diets. As a Dietitian, Diyanah is uniquely positioned to contribute to the cause thanks to her skills and knowledge.

Nutrition: A Key Component of Healthcare

Dietitians have a vital role to play in the healthcare sector. Many often make the mistake of underestimating the value of a healthy diet.

But thanks to the work of these unsung professionals, patients can now enjoy a better quality of life, shorter recovery periods, and longer lifespans.

MOH Holdings (MOHH) is currently offering the Healthcare Merit Award to students interested in pursuing a career in Dietetics. The scholarship offers several benefits such as payment for tuition and compulsory fees, monthly allowances, and more.