2007 graduate harnesses Gesu education for a career in nutrition and dietetics.
Kareemah Parker, Gesu Class of 2007, identifies a challenge, sets a goal, and conquers it.
A self-identified “go getter,” she has capitalized on her Gesu School education to chart a career in nutrition and dietetics: “Gesu was my foundation. It got me interested in my education. In this neighborhood, all kids don’t have an opportunity to go to a school like this. I tell other kids from Gesu that your education is something to take seriously. And value it.”
A 2015 graduate of Immaculata University with a B.S. in Nutrition and Dietetics and a minor in Psychology, Ms. Parker had earned a Dean’s Scholarship and membership in the Kappa Omicron Nu Honor Society. She is now a nutritionist working towards her Registered Dietitian credential at Meredith College in North Carolina.
This Dietetic Internship Program includes graduate courses and seven rotations. Ms. Parker has already completed a food service rotation in the Upper Dublin School District, planning school lunches according to federal guidelines; a community rotation working with parents at WIC N.O.R.T.H., Inc. in Overbrook; and a wellness and outpatient rotation at Abington Health Diabetes Center, where she utilizes her background in psychology to counsel patients on diet.
Ms. Parker envisions herself as a leader “in a white lab coat in a hospital,” possibly in pediatrics. She aims to work on a medical team to assess patients’ “disease states”—from diabetes to cardiovascular and digestive issues—and manage their diet through “medical nutrition therapy.”
Quiet and humble about her accomplishments, Ms. Parker has already held numerous leadership roles. At Immaculata, she embraced opportunities to advance her career and serve others. While President of Immaculata’s Student Dietetic Association, she helped organize a Kids Can Cook after-school program to teach students in the Marple Newtown School District to make healthy snacks and provided nutritious recipes for college students at Immaculata’s health fair. As a Burlodge Volunteer at the Corporal Michael J. Crescenz Veteran’s Affairs Medical Center, she assisted residents with choosing meals, while monitoring for concerns. On serving veterans, Ms. Parker comments, “I got to give back to them. That was really big for me.”
Ms. Parker constantly strives for growth. “I’ve always been self-motivated,” she notes. At Immaculata, she juggled multiple jobs, her course load, and Federal Work Study as a student ambassador in admissions. “I was always shy, so I put myself out there. It helped me open up more and helped with my public speaking,” she explains. During her clinical practicum at Fair Acres Nursing Home in Lima, Ms. Parker took on a leadership role evaluating food service staff. In her two years at Paoli Hospital, she was promoted from Food Service Assistant and Nutritional Host to a Diet Clerk, managing patients’ orders and documenting their diets.
As a result of her achievements, the Pennsylvania Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recognized Ms. Parker with one of only three 2015 Outstanding Dietetic Student Awards across the state. She won this honor in the Philadelphia region.
Ms. Parker attributes her success to attending Kindergarten through 8th grade at Gesu, where teachers nurtured her abilities: “Ms. Pickett gave me the fire inside me to push myself to my potential, and that’s why I’m now so motivated. In grade 5, she put me in Advanced Math and Advanced Writing. She knew I could do math, even when I didn’t think I could do it.”
Ms. Parker also recognizes Gesu’s role in introducing her to The Shipley School through Young Scholars, then a summer program. Ms. Parker went on to graduate from Shipley in 2011, where she took honors art courses and participated as a student mentor volunteer and in Students United for Racial Equality.
An accomplished and compassionate leader, Ms. Parker is a role model for young women and in the Gesu community.
“In this neighborhood, all kids don’t have an opportunity to go to a school like this.
I tell other kids from Gesu that your education is something to take seriously. And value it.”
— Kareemah Parker ’07
Kareemah Parker ’07 visits the Gesu science lab and showcases her 2015 Outstanding Dietetic Student Award from the Pennsylvania Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.