Sydney Bexell in front of living wall

Sydney Bexell ’20, Moose Lake, Minn.
Major/Minor/Certificate: Nutrition and Dietetics; Chemistry; ASL Studies

What made you want to study nutrition, chemistry, and American Sign Language?

In high school, I struggled with an eating disorder and spent some time in treatment at the Emily Program. My dietitian throughout my healing was so impactful to me and this is where my passion for dietetics began. Nutrition is such a tangible idea that has so much physical, mental, and medical significance, and studying the subject is so interesting to me.

After taking the Survey of Organic and Biochemistry course for nursing and nutrition majors, I realized how fascinated I was with the minute but impactful ideas in chemistry and I was amazed by how much chemistry is in the study of nutrition. After taking this class, I decided to add a chemistry minor.

I actually fell in love with ASL when I started watching the ABC show “Switched at Birth” during my sophomore year of high school. This show focuses on the deaf culture/community as well as the struggles and beauties of being deaf. Additionally, I waitressed in high school and one day had a customer who was deaf. I didn’t know much sign but quickly tried to learn a few words in order to communicate directly with him instead of having to do a triangle conversation with him, his hearing son who knew some ASL, and I. The man seemed so touched that I was trying my best to communicate with him. Watching “Switched at Birth” and conversing with this gentleman sprouted a passion inside of me to learn ASL and learn more about the culture. I can’t tell you how excited I was to learn that M State in Moorhead offered ASL and Deaf Culture classes. I’m not sure why, but learning ASL just brings this overwhelming joy to me and I am so thankful that Concordia accepted my proposal to have ASL fill my foreign language requirement.

What unique opportunities can studying ASL give you?

Studying ASL has already given me a whole different outlook on the world. I see conversational spaces differently; I make sure when speaking that I can see everyone, and I feel more comfortable with and can see the beauty in silence. During my ASL classes, we had the opportunity to go to dinner with many of my professor’s friends who were deaf. Being around a group of people who all had a different skill set than me opened my eyes to what daily life in a hearing world would be like for people in the deaf community.

What is the Student Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics?

The Student Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics is a group of mostly nutrition and exercise science majors (but anyone is welcome!) who meet once a month to listen to and talk with dietitians in Minnesota and North Dakota. With the different speakers, we have the opportunity to learn more about dietitians who work in various settings including hospitals, schools, and research facilities. We also have had the opportunity to meet with leaders from the Midwest Dairy Council and North Dakota Beef Commission.

Sydney Bexell studying in ISC

How has Concordia helped you BREW?

During my time at Concordia, I have had the opportunity to visit the New American Consortium and Fargo’s Rape and Abuse Crisis Center, teach individuals aged preschool to elderly about the importance of different nutrients, collaborate with different majors about the care plans for different patients, and research neurobiology in rats that will hopefully help us learn more about the human brain someday.

What cool opportunities did you find early on at Concordia?

I had the opportunity to visit Scotland, London, and Paris as a part of my Adventure, Exploration, and Risk Inquiry Seminar. Some highlights of this experience include climbing a vertical ice wall, hiking part of the Highland Way, and being immersed in different cultures. 

What are your career goals?

After college, I plan to complete my yearlong dietetic internship and obtain my registered dietitian license. I then plan to attend graduate school for nutrition research. I hope to one day be conducting nutrition research or be working as a clinical dietitian in a Level I trauma center.

Published January 2020