After completing her studies at Deakin University, Sophiya Uprety has gone on to apply her knowledge as a Nutrition Officer at UNICEF Nepal.
Interview with Sophiya Uprety
Can you tell us about your time at Deakin? Is there anything you especially remember?
Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed all aspects of student life at Deakin.
As I look back, apart from the professional and personal growth, the fun and the special friendships I formed at the student residence in Burwood (where I lived for three years) stand out as a special part.
What has been your journey since finishing your course? Briefly outline your career path prior to your current role.
I have worked at UNICEF for four years, starting as an intern. I learned about the priorities and challenges about nutrition in a development context and had the opportunity to contribute to the ongoing efforts to tackle undernutrition in our country.
I went back to Australia again in 2007 for a masters degree and after completion I returned home. Then, I had the opportunities to work with several UN agencies. These included:
United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) was an opportunity to comprehend nutrition interventions in a refugee context and for me to contribute to the introduction of new programme activities to further improve the nutritional status of refugee children and women.
My next job was with World Food Programme (WFP) where I had a wonderful platform to gather insights and advocate on nutritional vulnerability in food insecure contexts. I contributed to design and deliver the nutrition interventions based on that particular context and needs.
After the devastating Nepal Earthquake of 2015, I re-joined UNICEF and am still part of the recovery efforts for nutrition.
Overall, I have had the opportunity to contribute to the improvement of nutritional status of vulnerable children and women. There have been several mentors who have inspired and guided me along the career path.
What has been the biggest influence on your career?
A big influence on my career has been the proven role of good nutrition for socio-economic advancement of individuals, society and a whole country, which has given me further impetus to justify what I do.
Have you always wanted to pursue the kind of career you have embarked on? If so, when and how did you realise?
My mother is a reason that I am a passionate nutritionist today. She had a general degree on Home Science from Nepal which had a small nutrition component. She was always fascinated by that and would apply the good nutrition practices at home while we were growing up. When the time came for me to choose a career path, she suggested that nutrition is a good area with plenty of scope and something that I will enjoy, not only as a profession, but also as a valuable life skill. I liked the idea and the more I explored about it, the more I was drawn to this fascinating field.
What advice would you give graduates wanting to pursue a similar profession?
Nutrition profession is a wonderful choice that branches out to so many different career paths like the humanitarian and development field, the private sector, health care sector, food industry, academia and even individual practices.
Anyone who feels drawn to nutrition will have a perfect alignment with what they do and what they enjoy. As good nutrition is so significant for good health, prosperity and ultimately happiness, the contribution made through this profession will be very satisfying.
What do you believe Deakin University has shown you/given you as a person?
Both degrees obtained at Deakin have helped me tremendously to get established as a public health nutrition professional in Nepal. The technically sound food science and nutrition degree made it possible to get a good career start and the public health degree, which nicely complemented the previous degree, has enabled me to further shape my career.
I received not only understanding of theoretical aspects of nutrition science but also skills and perspectives to see through dynamics of nutrition. Overall, Deakin University degrees have empowered me.
What are your passions outside your work?
Outside of work also, nutrition continues to be a strong passion of mine as it is such an integral part of everyday life – promoting good nutrition amongst family, friends, colleagues, etc.
Urban gardening has been another growing passion for me lately – be it of fruits and vegetables, herbs or just for greenery. I believe that all urban areas of the world need a green revolution!
How would someone describe you?
A passionate and humane person who loves nature, to nurture and to nourish.
Is there any advice you would give to a person who is starting out in your career?
Strive to keep yourself constantly updated with the latest information and knowledge, both in the mainstream media as well as professional journals. Nutrition science is forever evolving.
What is something that amazes you?
As I watch my two little boys grow up, the ability of children to observe and absorb everything around them and replay it quite aptly later has amazed me so much!
Is there anything else you’d like to add we haven’t covered?
The super power of good nutrition can lead to a healthier and happier life and yet so many people are either unaware of it or are unable to put it into practice due to various reasons.
While the issues of undernutrition continue to prevail, there is also an escalation of overweight/obesity and diet-related non-communicable diseases. Therefore, the preventive and highly cost-effective nature of good nutrition which holds tremendous potential needs to be emphasised in all fronts.