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Fullerton Mom Finds Support to Raise Her Son and Earn a Degree Student Spotlight
Christina Anderson started taking food and nutrition classes at Fullerton College because she wanted to take care of her body after the birth of her baby boy. She ended up finding a career that is supporting her family.
Christina got pregnant during her senior year at Fullerton High School, and gave birth to her son, Kayden, in February 2013. That fall, she started attending Fullerton College because it was close to her home.
With an infant at home, going to college was a challenge. Christina said she and her baby were sharing a one-bedroom studio with her parents, and she was working part-time at Taco Bell while taking classes.
“Even though I had a baby, it wasn’t going to stop me,” says Christina who got through college with the support of her parents, her boyfriend – now her husband – and her boyfriend’s mother.
“I couldn’t have done it without my husband. He’s always been very supportive,” she says. “It was a group effort.”
Christina heard about the Food and Nutrition program at Fullerton College and decided to take an intro class.
“I got interested in nutrition because of the lifestyle changes I was trying to make,” she says. “I wanted to be the healthiest person I could be for my son.”
But as she learned about the field, “my whole world changed. Every single topic I was so on fire about it. I was soaking up so much,” she says. “When I found out about it, my mind was blown.”
Careers in food and nutrition are available in healthcare, education, and business and industry, government agencies, and food companies. Salaries range from $27,000 to $208,000, with an average salary of $54,000. The job opportunities in the field are expected to grow 17.5% through 2029.
Fullerton’s Nutrition and Foods program prepares students to understand how the scientific method is used to evaluate diet and foods; apply nutritional concepts in the preparation of food; understand how diet and lifestyle choices impact health; learn about proper sanitation techniques; and develop the skills and knowledge required for entry-level positions in nutrition and foods or to pursue a university degree in nutrition and dietetics. Christina earned an Associate of Arts degree in Nutrition and Foods, which allowed her to transfer to Cal Poly Pomona.
As Christina became more interested in the field, she was supported by “awesome” teachers such as Kristy L. Richardson, a professor in the department.
“She’s the sweetest person you’ll ever meet,” Christina says. “And she’s passionate about nutrition.”
Christina received lots of encouragement during her time at Fullerton College, and that changed her from a depressed and introverted teenager to the extroverted person she is now.
“Compared to back then, I’m a completely different person,” she says. “Fullerton College contributed to that because of the support I received and the positive feedback.”
Christina also credits the jobs she had on campus as helping make her a better person in addition to providing spending money. She worked in the Financial Aid office and learned how to handle people who are stressed because they need money. She worked as a tutor and learned how to become comfortable with students in a one-on-one situation.
“I learned you are not the teacher to provide them the answers,” she said. “You’re there to lead them to the answer.”
After graduating from Fullerton College in 2017, Christina transferred to Cal Poly Pomona and earned her bachelor’s degree in Food and Nutrition in 2020.
Since then, she has been working as a nutritionist with Women, Infants and Children (WIC), a government agency that provides food and nutrition supplementation to low-income individuals. In her job, Christina provides nutrition counseling and education. One of her areas of expertise is counseling new mothers on breast feeding.
“Because I was a participant in WIC, I can empathize with them more,” says Christina. “I love sharing my knowledge with other people. I love being a resource to them and connecting them to resources in the community. There are so many resources out there to help them get through life a little bit easier.”
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