My Position at Exceptional Care for Children

Allison Hall Exceptional Care Nurses Aide

Notice the big hair cut?

In 2014, I volunteered at Camp Sheldon at Exceptional Care for Children in the food service department. Passing out snacks and juice boxes at this unique facility was the first experience I had in a pediatric skilled nursing facility. After a tour around, I was enchanted and decided I had to work here. I got my certification last summer and here I am at ECC typing this right now in between rounds on an overnight shift!

Right now, the summer of 2016, I have a part time position as a dinner time aide and play therapy aide. I come in just before 5pm and corral the kiddos for dinner. I only have a few kids who eat with me because the residents here receive their nutrition via G-tube, NG-tube, or other letter tubes. After dinner I go upstairs and play with the kids until bed time. Tonight, there was a CNA call out so I’m staying past my normal clock out time of 9pm to cover a nursing assistant shift until 6am. I don’t mind picking up a PM shift because I’m a night owl anyway.

It’s definitely a great place to work and I love spending (almost) everyday surrounded by kids. I still have a lot to learn around here but everyone has been so helpful in getting me oriented to my new job.

Posted in Work Experiences

Undergraduate Research Poster

Allison Hall Smyrna DelawareMy final semester of senior year, I traded in my Teaching Assistant role for the title of Undergraduate Research Assistant. I have previous experience in research from my three semesters in the Psychology Department in the Peer Relations Lab under Dr. Hubbard and her graduate students, so I was excited to get back to this type of work. Kristin Wiens, a clinical instructor and food lab coordinator here at the University of Delaware, is working with Dr. Shannon Robson on a study titled “Cooking Confidence, Nutrition Behavior, and Dietary Intake among College Students Enrolled in an Experiential Cooking Class”. I was a TA for the experiential cooking class for two semesters but lately I have been collecting data, entering data, and constructing a poster based on the information obtained from students taking this course. As the sole undergrad on this project, I have kept busy with  these basic tasks to help my professors focus on the more critical aspects of the study. I spent many hours this semester working on a poster to present our preliminary data. Here I am at the undergraduate research symposium displaying the study.Allison Hall "Cooking Confidence, Nutrition Behavior, and Dietary Intake among College Students enrolled in an experiential cooking class"


Posted in Educational Experiences

University of Delaware Cooperative Extension

Allison Hall and Geethi John UD Farmers Market DelawareThe New Castle County government sponsored Farmers Markets this summer where I, as a University of Delaware Cooperative Extension nutrition assistant, demonstrated healthy recipes with fresh local ingredients. Geethi John and I worked as a team to prepare and pass out samples of delicious summer salads. We had a great experience promoting health and nutrition to our local community.Allison Hall UD Cooperative Extension

In the fall, I was a part of the University of Delaware Cooperative Extension’s Food Smart Families 4-H program as a nutrition trainer. Our job was to go out to schools and after school programs with different health lessons and recipes for elementary school aged children. I’ve always loved working with kids so I was thrilled to bring nutrition lessons into classrooms.

Posted in Work Experiences

When I Became a Certified Nursing Assistant

Allison Hall Delaware Certified Nursing AssistantI have been babysitting for about 10 years now, I took a SafeSitter course through the Red Cross when I was 12, but I never thought those skills would translate to a “real job”. After my week volunteering at ECC I became interested in becoming a CNA. Certified Nursing Assistants help nursing staff with personal care tasks and help people with activities of daily living. In some hospitals this position would be referred to as a Patient Care Technician.

Allison Hall CNA Margaret H Rollins School of NursingI decided to make the most of my summer break in 2015 so I took a CNA course at the Margaret H Rollins School of Nursing at Beebe Hospital in Lewes, DE. We spent many hours in the classroom taking notes, working in skills labs, and even did a two week clinical experience. Then my class sat for the prometric exam to become state licensed. I passed my test on August 14, 2015.

I have continued babysitting while searching for a CNA position. I hope to gain experience in this area because it will help me decide if I would like to go back to school to become a nurse. I feel that if you can’t handle the less glamorous side of health care, nursing isn’t for you!


Posted in Educational Experiences

Teaching Assistant for Professor Kristin Wiens

Fall of 2014 I became a TA for Professor Kristin Wiens. She taught an introductory nutrition class in a large lecture hall of over 100 students. My responsibilities included answering student emails about the semester long project, alphabetizing/sorting the assignments as they were handed in, giving one 15 mini-lecture on Eating Disorders & Body Image, and assisting Professor Wiens during the exam periods.

I really enjoyed working with her and she extended the offer to assist her teach an elective cooking class during the Spring of 2015. The semester is nearly half way through and I have gained a lot of new information about cooking and food preparation. Each week I am responsible for scoring online journal entries in our student website called Sakai and assisting Professor Wiens during the class time. I help students find ingredients they are looking for, help keep the lab clean, and try to be generally helpful. Not only have I been fortunate enough to TA this class, I also am a student in a different cooking lab class taught by Professor Wiens.

Posted in Educational Experiences

Camp Sheldon at Exceptional Care for Children in Newark DE

University of Delaware dietetics volunteer This week of 8/4/14 – 8/8/14 I spent Monday, Wednesday, and Friday volunteering at Camp Sheldon at Exceptional Care for Children in Newark Delaware. My university sent an email out to dietetics students that stated volunteers were needed to assist with food preparation for a summer camp nearby. This worked perfectly into my schedule as I have been working second shift this summer (3-11pm) and would be able to spend my morning and early afternoon helping out.

Allison Hall volunteer experience

A Watermelon Octopus!

Exceptional Care for Children Newark DE

Rice Krispy Treat Sushi: Another great idea from Pinterest!

The last day I took some pictures of the fabulous buffet display we put together under the guidance and instruction of the food service coordinator at ECC, Leigh. She just graduated from UD with degree in Dietetics, so she had great advice and shared plenty of important information with the student volunteers.

Exceptional Care for Children is a pediatric nursing facility in Delaware. It was such a great experience to volunteer for Camp Sheldon, where the children of the staff played alongside the residents of ECC for some good old fashioned day camp fun! I hope to volunteer here again as it was a rewarding experience and I got to know my peers from UD a little better as well!

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Why I Have a Degree in Applied Nutrition

I would not consider myself to be someone who takes the traditional route. This is especially true for my experience as an applied nutrition student. Going into college, I had no idea what I wanted to major in. I arbitrarily picked Apparel Design during the application process because I figured I just wanted to sew and thought it would be easy. The first day of college classes, I knew I wasn’t in the right major. I’m hardly fashion forward by any means and I did not fit in with girls who could be well dressed and in full makeup by 8am. I liked psychology in high school, so I then switched to Neuroscience. I guessed it would just be the “science” version of psychology. (I was wrong) The way the science prerequisites worked out for this major, I didn’t end up taking Introduction to Neuroscience until the spring of my sophomore year. I became involved with the Psychology Department as an undergraduate research assistant in the Peer Relations Lab with Dr. Hubbard that spring and absolutely loved the experience. The same could not be said about my Neuroscience class; I felt more inspired and motivated by the behavioral health and nutrition classes I had taken for my minor. I changed majors yet again after a long contemplation, and I am now an Applied Nutrition student! My arrival at my college major came about by discovering my passion for nutrition when I began losing weight.

Senior Year cheer

My senior year I transferred schools, so I took up cheer leading as my winter sport.

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Sophomore JV Cross Country. It’s hard to run when you’re heavier than most of the other runners.

I’m “almost tall”, at about 5’8″ and I’ve always been taller than other girls my age and for the most part guys as well. I was always an average weight for my age but lankier due to my height. Everyone’s body changes when they transition to adulthood so I filled out a lot but always played sports and thought myself to be pretty healthy. High school is an awkward time for some people and I am certainly one of those people who would never want to relive those days. Academically and personally, I went through some trials and tribulations that played a factor in part of my weight gain. Being called fat lead to me getting fatter because it became a part of my identity.

This is me and my best friend taking pictures before my senior prom. I sewed my own dress. It's at this point I started to get noticeably heavier.

This is me and my best friend taking pictures before my senior prom. I sewed my own dress. It’s at this point I started to get noticeably heavier.

Fall 2012 First Semester Freshman Year. I had started putting on that Freshman 15!

Fall 2012 First Semester Freshman Year. I had started putting on that Freshman 15!

Going into college I assumed with all the walking around campus I would get in shape. On the contrary, going from participating in 3 seasons of high school sports a year to just walking to class did not make me fit! The dining hall food wasn’t great, so there was a lot of trying a little bit of everything, then still not liking it, then going out to eat. I was just not having a good time in college. I had a bad experience living in dorm: my first room mate and I weren’t compatible, my floor partied a little too much, and I just didn’t fit in.

The turning point for me was during winter break of my freshman year of college. I absolutely hated the way I looked in every picture. Not just in a: “oh this is a bad angle” or “my smile looks weird”. I could hardly recognize myself in the pictures. I guess my dorm room did not have enough mirrors because I had no idea I had gained that much weight. I didn’t want to make a new years resolution, I just felt uncomfortable with how I looked, not to mention how I felt about how much I must have weighed. I never did weigh myself at my heaviest weight, but in the picture below I estimated myself to weight about 200 lbs.

This is the picture that made me realize it was time for a change.

This is the picture that made me realize it was time for a change.

This is me about 20 lbs lower than my highest weight the spring of my freshman year (2013).

This is me about 20 lbs lower than my highest weight the spring of my freshman year (2013).

After that Christmas card photo, I started using MyFitnessPal and counting calories. I did not realize before that there was a scientific and mathematical explanation to why I was always “big boned”, that reason was that I just ate too much! That spring when I returned to school, I got a new room mate and my perspective began to shift. I was always online researching more information about how to continue my success. I then added a Health and Wellness minor and in the fall began taking classes about personal health and nutrition.

My first 5K run since I ran Cross Country in high school! That was the summer before sophomore year of college (2013).

My first 5K run since I ran Cross Country in high school! I was down ~30lbs at this point, the summer before sophomore year of college (2013).

When I took Introduction to Nutrition, I fell in love with learning again. For the first time in a long time, I thought the material I was learning was both useful and important. The spring of my sophomore year I realized that there was no fighting it, I switched my major to Dietetics so I could help other people learn how to eat healthy. I’ve lost an estimated 40 lbs from my highest weight, but I know my journey’s not over yet.

The hardest part about my experience has been plateauing. I’ve maintained my current weight loss since this December and am now at a healthy weight. I am still motivated to continue to lose weight until I feel completely confident and healthy. As embarrassing as it is for me to look back on my transformation, I feel it is important to share with others because I know how others’ stories inspired me along the way.

Link to an article I wrote for the University of Delaware on this topic!


This is my most recent photo at ~40 lbs lost! I feel better than ever and I can't wait to see where my journey takes me!

This is a recent photo at ~40 lbs lost! I feel better than ever and I can’t wait to see where my journey takes me!

Posted in Educational Experiences