Dorothea McCarthy Rourke ’76 believes that “food is more than something you eat. It is nourishment for the body, mind, spirit and soul.” This is the advice she has given to patients most often during her more than 35 years as a registered dietitian and nutritionist.
After graduating from Holy Cross, Rourke earned a master of science degree in food and nutrition at Framingham State University and completed her internship at Leominster Hospital in Leominster, Massachusetts. Since then, she has shared her nutrition expertise in a variety of settings, as a college instructor, elderly nutritionist, home care and hospice nutritionist, correctional consultant, contributing author to professional publications, community outreach nutritionist and expert witness.
Why did you decide to work in the nutrition field?
Initially, I enrolled in the premed program at Holy Cross, with academic attention on science and math. This focus shifted as a result of volunteering with SPUD (Student Programs for Urban Development) at a Worcester soup kitchen during my sophomore year. As a nutritionist, I am able to combine community service with health and food science.
How has your career morphed since your Holy Cross graduation?
As a new graduate, I focused on professional advancement and accomplishment. I was actively involved in our professional organization, at the local and national level. As my concerns transitioned to our growing family of four children, I discovered varied and challenging opportunities to coordinate home and profession. And with approaching retirement, I can be selective with my employment options.
What are the top three skills you utilize as a dietitian and nutritionist?
Creative problem-solving; communication and collaboration with others; and entrepreneurial spirit.
What is your favorite part of your work?
The world of nutrition science is vibrant, with new developments in medical research, the food industry and educational applications. During the past 35+ years in this profession, I continue to be educated, amazed and passionate about nutrition. ■
—Maura Sullivan Hill