Our Students

Involvement in student organizations, service activities, and research helps one student prepare for a career in medicine

John Rinaldi is building connections with other students and helping others stay healthy through opportunities in the College of Health and Human Development and at Penn State.

A Nutrition major in the Basic Sciences option, John loves working with—and helping—others, and he has made a difference in the community in many ways. He was a children’s basketball coach at a YMCA, and he volunteered as a patient support assistant with a pediatric home care center. There, he worked with autistic children, and this experience, he says, helped him figure out what he wants to do in the future—touch lives. Finally, as a HealthWorks peer mentor at Penn State, John had the chance to influence his peers’ lives by promoting healthy behavior. “It’s great to be a part of this program, which is helping my peers make healthier decisions,” he says.

One example of John's determination to help others and share knowledge he has accumulated during his time as Penn State is his position as a teacher's assistant for Dr. Gary Fosmire’s nutrient metabolism class. “I enjoy explaining concepts to people by holding review sessions and office hours,” he says.

Involvement in student organizations has helped John build his social and professional networks. He was rush chair and president of his pledge class at Sigma Alpha Mu, a social fraternity; he is an honors member of the Penn State chapter of Alpha Epsilon Delta, a national pre-medical honors fraternity; and he is a member and webmaster of the Penn State Pre-Medical Society. Through these, he strengthened communication skills and had the opportunity to mentor other students. “Meeting others who have been there before, then learning the ropes and passing it down is a big part of college,” he says.

John feels that building research experience is vital, and he has found plenty of these opportunities at Penn State. “Research experience is crucial for any future career in a laboratory or as a doctor,” he says. “It provides tremendous preparation.” The fundamentals he learned in his Nutrition classes can easily be used in research in other disciplines. He chose to be a research assistant in the Jensen Research Group, a lab in Penn State’s Department of Chemistry. There, he performed molecular modeling and looked at optical properties of chemical compounds. He says, “It’s nice to see the application of the theories we learn in class.”

In his time at Penn State, John has developed strong relationships with his professors, and he knows he can call on most of them for whatever he needs. He especially enjoyed building relationships with advisers in the College of Health and Human Development, who he says helped him out a tremendous amount.

After graduation, John plans on going to medical school or becoming a professor. “I chose Nutrition because it’s medically related, but in a way it’s the ‘road less traveled’ by future doctors,” he says.

With the expertise he is building through experiences at Penn State, John knows he’ll be prepared for wherever his career takes him.