Degree: Ph.D. in Dietetics & Nutrition
College/School: Robert Stempel College of Public Health and Social Work
While Christina Fleetwood has been able to celebrate many academic and professional milestones along the path to earning her Ph.D. in Dietetics & Nutrition, she’s done so while overcoming much adversity. The very semester she was to complete the requirements for her degree, Christina suffered a series of heart attacks—at one point, actually flatlining on the operating room table. After surviving that ordeal, she was told she’d have to put school on hold. But that was an option that Christina wasn’t willing to accept.
One week after undergoing angioplasty and the placement of two stents, Christina was back at school, full time, while maintaining a research job at a local health care center. Even though she was tackling a substantial workload, she still managed to make the lifestyle changes necessary to prevent additional damage to her weakened heart. Her understanding of the role nutrition could play in her recovery led her to adopt a plant-based diet.
Fifteen months later, a healthier Christina went to Texas for a dietetic internship. On her return, she achieved one of her professional goals by passing the national examination and becoming a Registered Dietician.
Though her determination has played a big part, Christina acknowledges that she owes much of her academic success to a support system of friends and family, primarily led by her mother, Carolyn Mae Fleetwood, who died unexpectedly in April 2015 as Christina was in Boston presenting the results of her FIU research into the effects of nutritional intervention on metabolic syndrome.
Christina’s experience with her family’s extensive heart problems, as well as her own, have sparked her interest in cardiovascular research. She’s currently applying for academic and government positions that are in line with that interest.