By Christine Ho (2015.03.13)
Up until last year, the mentality of “giving everything to God” was easy for me. Nothing much ever happened that didn’t go according to plan – I thought that everything that had happened in my life coincided with what I wanted and ultimately, with what God had planned for my life.
I switched my major to dietetics right before my senior year of college so I had to stay an extra semester to finish my degree. This meant that my future plans would all be postponed and with dietetics, the process would be even more stressful now that I had pushed back my graduation date. Upon graduating with a bachelor in dietetics, you are not guaranteed to become a registered dietitian. There is an extremely stressful process that you need to go through before you are able to sit for and take the registration exam and become licensed to practice as a dietitian. It requires that you go through an extensive application and matching process to an internship, which is essentially rotations of supervised practice similar to that of medical residency. The matching process is exactly the same as that of residency – after you send in your applications to your set number of schools/programs, you must rank the schools on a separate website. After ranking them, you will or will not be invited for interviews. The schools/programs must then also rank you so that you can be matched to their program. Currently, the national average match rate for dietetics is 50%, which means that half of those who graduate with a bachelor in dietetics will not be able to do their rotations and will ultimately not become registered dietitians.
From Disappointment to Great Joy
I had gone through my list multiple times, carefully ranking which programs I wanted to apply to. I applied all over the country, with the University of Houston being the closest program in distance to Florida. After I sent in my applications in September, I had to wait 2 months for match day to roll around. During these two months, I waited and waited, desperate to hear back for an interview invitation from the 4 programs I had applied to. I prayed earnestly for these interviews, but was disappointed to hear back from none. I honestly didn’t know what I would do if I didn’t get matched at all because I switched my major specifically with this one goal in mind, to become a registered dietitian. A bachelor in dietetics is not of much use – you need to go through the internship to take the registration exam to become a registered dietitian. This, alone, caused much stress for me and although I depended on the Lord for comfort to get me through these times of distress, I grew even more doubtful of my own abilities and my future. When match day came around and I checked the computer only to find out that I didn’t get matched, I was crushed. I cried the entire day, and was extremely angry at myself and at God. I questioned God many times, asking Him why he didn’t provide what I wanted, what I thought was best for me. Why didn’t God give me this one thing? Didn’t he want me to become a registered dietitian? Why would He close this door, to disappoint me? It was extremely hard to go to class the next day and face my classmates. They would all know that I didn’t get matched. I felt like a huge failure. It was hard to be confident in anything after I had failed at achieving this one thing that I wanted so badly.
However, amidst all of my disappointment and sorrows during this time, God had his plans for me and was indeed looking out for me. After match day in November, there is a second round of matching that occurs. There usually aren’t too many programs participating in second round matching because most programs fill up after first round matching. This time around, there was only one program that was participating – Samford University in Birmingham, Alabama. This was a new program and it was their first time participating in the dietetic internship matching. I was slightly discouraged because Alabama was not somewhere that I had seen myself living – I didn’t consider Alabama at all when I was looking at programs to begin with. And the fact that there was only one program to choose from was very disappointing because I didn’t have much of a choice if I wanted to participate in second round matching. I either had to apply now to Samford or wait a year to apply during the next cycle of matching. I begrudgingly started to prepare my materials and interview for Samford, knowing that this was my last opportunity to get matched. I felt as if I had no choice but to apply. There was really nothing that stood out to me about this school but as I began to gather more information for my interview and send my application in, I found out that this school is actually a Christian university. Their curriculum for the dietetic internship is founded on Christian principles and taught with a Christian mindset – it is rooted deeply in these values that I also share.
This was very comforting to me and I was extremely blessed by this, because the other programs that I had applied to during first round matching were not at Christian universities. This wasn’t even a priority for me when I was choosing programs, being that there aren’t many Christian universities with dietetic internships in the United States.
In God’s Perfect Timing
To make a long story short, I found out at the end of November that I did get matched to Samford University after second round matching. I was chosen to be a part of their intern class and for this, I can only thank the Lord. I have experienced His love and faithfulness like never before and realized how true His words are: “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11)
It was truly a miracle and all in His perfect timing. I don’t know if I can put into words how miraculous it really was. First off, I wasn’t even planning on graduating in December. I was supposed to graduate in May of 2014. If I had graduated in May with the rest of my class, I would have applied to dietetic internships in the earlier matching cycle in February rather than in November. I would not have had the opportunity to even apply to Samford University because their program was brand new and they only participated in the November matching cycle. Secondly, because Samford’s program didn’t fill up completely after the first round of matching, they were able to accept more applications during the second round of matching. It is very rare that programs do not fill up because there are double the amount of applicants as there are spots in these dietetic internships all across the United States. Additionally, Alabama is only one state away from Florida – out of all the programs I had applied to, Samford was the closest to home. Yes, it would be a long drive but it’s close enough to home that driving would be an option. Lastly, it’s founded on Christian principles – the entire curriculum for my program was crafted with the idea of producing registered dietitians who are grounded in their faith and also in their knowledge of nutrition. Every year, the professors get together in the chapel and receive cards with the names of all of the incoming students. They then pray for their particular student on their card, praying that they would be blessed by the university and that the university would be able to provide guidance and fellowship during their time at Samford.
I had cried so many tears after that first round of matching, not knowing that God had this whole other plan in mind – a much better plan than I could have ever dreamed of for myself. Things didn’t go according to my plan. I thought Houston would be a much better fit for me and would have a better job market for my profession. I thought that I’d fit in more with the culture in Houston and would be much happier there. But what did I know?? How could I possibly know what was best for me at that time? “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.(Isaiah 55:8-9).
God Works All Things for Our Good
God never wants to see His children sad. His plans aren’t meant to hurt you. Now looking back on it, I should have never doubted the Lord – how can I possibly understand and know God’s great plan for my life when I have absolutely no clue what the future holds? God is the only one who knows what your future entails and he has created something amazing for each and every one of us. We just don’t know exactly what it is! And while you may think you have the perfect life planned out, you really don’t know a thing about your future. God wants the best for you and opens and closes doors for you, to align with his perfect plan for your life. Yes, they may not be doors that you want to close, but God has His purpose in doing so. I’ve learned to trust in the Lord with my WHOLE life. I’ve learned to never doubt God, to always lean on Him even when you have absolutely no clue what is happening in your life or why certain things happen to you, just as Proverbs says “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” (Proverbs 3:5-6).
Yes, I am nowhere near Houston, my dream location. Yes, I’m in Birmingham, Alabama, the last place I had ever thought I’d be living in. But I know that I am supposed to be here because this is where God has brought me. I depended on the Lord to bring me to where I am now, and I will continue to depend on Him and give him my whole life as I go through many long days of rotations in a completely new city. It has been a little over two months since I’ve moved here and He has blessed me with new friends and wonderful professors and program directors. I’ve also been able to connect with a friend of a friend, who just moved to Birmingham one week ago. She is also a believer and together, we have been attending church and are looking for a small group that we can plug into. I can’t wait to see what other blessings God has in store for me!
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” (Proverbs 3:5-6)