Even as a kid, Enrique Nieto never felt quite right about indulging in pizza — at least not without pairing it with a side of greens. Now he's helping kids sort through those same choices as secretary of UNLV’s Student Nutrition & Dietetic Association (SNDA), an on-campus organization that promotes nutritional wellness throughout the Las Vegas community.
As he grew older, he became more aware of the negative health rates within his Latino community. He majored in nutrition sciences so he could use his passion for food to help people live a healthier lifestyle.
“I believe in living a life of giving back to your community, doing your best in your position, and leaving your mark.”
SNDA hit two major highpoints last semester with the recruitment of a whopping 87 members and the election of Latino students to three out of five its officer positions — the first time SNDA has ever had a majority of Latino officers. Latinos are at high risk for cardiovascular disease and Type 2 diabetes, so the group has made it its mission to spread awareness of this ongoing problem while offering tips to make conscious decisions to improve nutrition and physical activity.
Last semester, the organization volunteered at the Healthy Kids Festival. It’s a free event that targeted child obesity and gave children the opportunity to learn more about how to live a healthy lifestyle through interactive activities and providing valuable information; all while taking place in the heart of the Latino community: East Las Vegas. Over 90% of the attendees were of the Latino heritage.
“This event directly served our Latino communities here in town by educating our youth of the importance of health in relation to nutrition and physical activity,” said Nieto, “I was working the Body Mass index station and served as one of the bilingual volunteers.”
Nieto has also contributed to SNDA by featuring the organization at Bienvenida Ven Con Migo!, which celebrated the campus' LatinX community last month. They took this opportunity to inform attendees of the disease risk in the Latino community, explain how a nutritious diet can combat those diseases, and spread awareness about the club as a whole.
“SNDA making the effort to spread our goal and reaching our Latino communities during the Latin Heritage month gives me so much more pride and joy.”
Nieto’s involvement with UNLV didn’t stop at being an officer for the SNDA. He also became the special projects officer for Rebel Vets and vice president of the UNLV Boxing Club. He says he’s gained experience in his future career field while enriching his student experience.“You have to volunteer your time and get involved to truly have that unique college journey once it’s concluded. This experience has made it a memorable one as well as one of the best ones in my life.”
Senior, Nutrition Sciences major
What organizations are you involved with? Student Nutrition and Dietetics Association, UNLV Boxing Club, and Rebel Vets.
Why did you get involved? My favorite thing about this is how food brings people, including the students at UNLV, together for peaceful moments of eating and learning of one’s food and culture.
What made you choose UNLV? Because it's my hometown school! I'm a huge Rebels fan and, I definitely identify with this whole university.
Advice to other students? Being in college is what you make of it. Most students have time to get involved, and only then will you get that "college experience." I know I didn't really feel it until I started getting involved with my three organizations. It made me feel more connected to the university, to the city, the campus.