Sofia Sanchez is somewhat of a Superwoman. She mentors middle-school Latina girls, is a one-on-one Spanish language tutor and volunteers at a health clinic, all while maintaining an impressive 3.95 GPA.
It’s not only her passion and a heart of gold that allows Sanchez, while in her final undergraduate semester studying nutrition in the College of Applied Health Sciences (AHS), to fulfill all these roles. She’s supported by the Kris and Savitri K. Kamath Scholarship as well.
Sofia Sanchez, photographed here in Guatemala, won the Kris and Savitri K. Kamath Scholarship in the College of Applied Health Sciences
“I’m inspired to work with women and minority populations because of the experiences of my mother and clients,” says Sanchez. “Growing up, I heard stories from my family about how much worse their diets became after immigrating to America.”
Kirsten Straughan, Sanchez’s advisor and Assistant Director of Accredited Nutrition Programs states, “Sofia really stood out from the other students in our program. She received tremendous feedback from her internship sites, though she is quiet, soft-spoken and unassuming of her intelligence and professionalism.” Straughan also oversaw Sanchez’s internship this past summer when she designed a nutritional education program for the U.S. Women National Rugby team .
“It’s important to have well-educated nutrition students because they work one-on-one with people,” says Dr. Kamath, the namesake of the scholarship. “They teach populations who need to know about their food behaviors and the right science behind their nutrition.”
“In poor communities, the most readily available food is not the healthiest, and like most people, my clients didn’t have time to grocery shop or cook for their kids,” says Sanchez. “I want healthy food to be affordable and accessible for them.”
Originally from India, Dr. Kamath was once a biochemistry major. When she was awarded the Ford Fellowship at Iowa State University for nutrition, she took advantage of the opportunity. She fell in love with nutrition and returned to India to teach and research in the field. Eventually, she returned to the U.S. and settled at UIC. In 1996, she became dean of the College of Associated Health Professions (as the College of Applied Health Sciences was known then). After almost 30 years at UIC, Dr. Kamath retired in 1999.
“We certainly remember Savitri and her husband long after they left UIC, which is partially due to this significant scholarship in their names,” remarks Straughan.
Dr. Kamath is able to the pass the baton to future nutrition professionals through her scholarship, which is the only one offered by the Kinesiology and Nutrition department. The Kamath scholarship is annually given to one undergraduate, graduate and PhD student. Last year, Sanchez was awarded $1,500.
“I enjoyed UIC’s faculty and staff very much, but above all, I liked the students, who were the cream of the crop,” says Kamath. “They do extremely well in their professions.”
“I want to work in a community setting by helping plan and implement outreach programs, and make being healthier fun,” says Sanchez, who hopes to work as a dietician and eventually earn her doctorate degree in public health.