Doris V. Derelian: Shaping the Future of Dietetics

Photo: Jason and Laura Photography

Doris V. Derelian, PhD, JD, RDN, FADA, FAND — professor, lawyer and mentor — says she is awed by her nomination for and receiving of the highest honor the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics bestows on a member.

Maybe that’s because she landed in the dietetics field after an unplanned meeting with an influential professor in college. “Through a series of unexpected twists and turns, I ended up in the academic office of a dietetics professor who was so dynamic, she decided I should be a dietitian,” recalls Derelian, who entered college as a drama major. “She explained to me that everything I had done up to that point was in direct line to becoming a dietitian. I have never looked back.”

As a professor of nutrition at California Polytechnic State University, Derelian teaches students from freshmen to seniors in classes such as food law and nutrition education and communications. “I teach future nutrition professionals, and I love it,” she says.

Derelian describes her most rewarding career moments as “bundles” — there’s the student bundle, which includes past pupils reaching out years later to say she helped them become successful professionals. And the colleague bundle, which Derelian describes as working with “beacons in the profession.” “I have been rewarded by being able to work with some of the greatest in our field,” Derelian says.

Another bundle is lifelong learning — having a career that requires constant exploration and being able to study law. Lastly, there’s the bundle of “sharing in the respect of being in a ‘helping’ profession.” “We as dietitians are respected and admired,” Derelian says. “I know I chose a calling that brings honor.”

Lauren Fox

Lauren Fox is the managing editor of Food & Nutrition Magazine and senior manager of creative media at the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.