Aloha! I’m Kasey Purcell and I’m a part of the inaugural cohort of the Oregon State University Extension Service interns. I’m a student at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, studying dietetics, and I’ll be working in Tillamook County alongside my supervisor Dusti Linnell.
Tillamook has been my home for most of my life and I’ve always been very active in my community. Throughout high school I found myself participating in a lot of community activities. I was a worker and counselor at Twin Rocks Friends Camp, and a student and teacher at my local dance studio. I also had a mom who knew everyone… and I mean everyone. As much as I hated it while I was living at home, I’ve begun to appreciate her and her connections more now.
It’s weird to be participating in this internship, because many of the people I’m interacting with have known me since I was a little kid. Still, I’m excited to be able to now work with them on a professional level.
During my senior year of high school, I became interested in nutrition. I’ve always lived a somewhat healthy lifestyle and I found that learning about the nutrients we need in our body was super interesting. As I said, I was a student and teacher at my local dance studio, North West Dance Academy. I’ve been an avid dancer since I was 5, spending anywhere up to 20 hours a week in the dance studio. This was a large part of my childhood and still is today as I’m also pursuing a minor in dance.
I began my journey to become a dietitian by taking an introduction to nutrition course at our local community college. This course was actually taught by Dusti, my now supervisor. After this class I knew that this was what I wanted to study, so it was now just a matter of figuring out what I wanted to do with my degree. I came to find that community health was super interesting to me. I know that I wasn’t made to work in a clinical setting, so I had to figure out another path. This internship is my first step to learning more about community health.
A large reason why I chose to go to school in Hawaii is because I felt it would be a really unique learning opportunity because of the different agriculture found there. I also love hiking, swimming and being outside so Hawaii just seemed right. Through my time there so far, I have found that it is really similar to Tillamook, just hotter! I can hike through the mountains, go to the beach, and eat all the acai and poke bowls I want.
My plans for the future are to finish my bachelor’s degree, followed by a master’s in dietetics with an emphasis on community health. From there I hope to get my registered dietetics license so I’m free to practice. Then my ultimate goal is to get a second master’s in public health or public policy. I’m super excited to be able to pursue my interests in my home community this summer, and I’m grateful to OSU for providing this opportunity to us. I’ve already learned so much and I know there is more to come.