Nutritional Sciences alumna working as clinician and researcher in Kuwait

Penn State alumna Durra Alsumaiti. Credit: Durra AlsumaitiAll Rights Reserved.

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Durra Alsumaiti attended Penn State through a scholarship from the Ministry of Higher Education in Kuwait, which allowed her to come to the United States for her education and then return home to work as a dietitian. A 2015 Penn State graduate with a bachelor’s degree in nutritional sciences, she now works at the Dasman Diabetes Institute in Kuwait City, Kuwait, her hometown.

Alsumaiti said she appreciates her role as senior dietitian with the institute because it allows her to both see patients in a clinical setting and engage in research that ensures she is providing them with the best care possible. She is a research coordinator on multiple studies, including one that will soon be recruiting patients to look at the effects of macro nutrients in a high-protein diet among type 2 diabetics.

“Nutrition is still a growing field of science, and without research, we don’t have diet recommendations for our patients. Being able to be involved in such research makes me really interested in applying its teachings. It’s a privilege to have them both in one place.”

In some ways, she said, it was difficult for Alsumaiti to transition to the workplace in Kuwait, as she had been away for six years and enmeshed in the culture of the United States. However, she added that her confidence in the education she received at Penn State helped her find ways to navigate the differences between nutritional health care in the two countries.

“The foundation that I received from different professors at Penn State is very valuable,” said Alsumait, who particularly connected with professors Lynn Parker-Klees, Jill Patterson, Mary Dean Coleman-Kelly and Laura Murray-Kolb. 

“Specifically, the counseling classes have helped me adapt to the different people I interact with, whether in the U.S. or Kuwait," she said. "I am able to apply different skills and communicate with people in both cultures.”

In addition to the coursework, Alsumaiti said she credits part of her successful transition to the field opportunities available through the nutritional sciences program, including those at Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center and Café Laura.

Through her connections with the Medical Center, Alsumaiti applied and was accepted to the combined master’s degree and dietetic internship program at Boston University.

“Because I had those hands-on experiences, I am better able to do my job here," she said. Her advice to other students is: "Make sure to get hands-on experience during your undergraduate degree and volunteer in all sectors of the field. Network is key to success, and it will help shape your future.”

Last Updated September 03, 2020