Driven by empathy

Overcoming an eating disorder motivates Addie Sholar to excel in her academic journey

Addie Sholar developed an eating disorder at 14 years old. At 18, she sought treatment and connected with a therapist, who helped her begin her six-year journey to recovery. She also received support from several dietitians to learn how to correct her restrictive eating habits.

Now, at age 24, Sholar considers herself to be fully recovered. Her experience has fueled her to pursue a career in dietetics, which she is working toward as a graduate student in the University of Cincinnati’s Accelerated Dietitian Nutritionist (ADN) program.

Five years into her academic pursuit, Sholar’s hard work and passion for dietetics is gaining recognition. In April, she received the Outstanding Dietetics Student Award from the Ohio Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics—as one of only three students to be recognized statewide this year. 

I always knew I wanted to study nutrition for the right reasons; I wanted to help people

Addie Sholar

Sholar's academic journey

Sholar began her academic career at Cincinnati State Technical and Community College in the fall of 2018. At the time, she had just started meeting with a therapist and dietitian for her eating disorder. Though Sholar was met with resistance about her choice to enter the field of nutrition and dietetics, she persisted anyway, earning her associate degree in dietetic technology and graduating at the top of her class in the summer of 2020.

“I always knew I wanted to study nutrition for the right reasons; I wanted to help people,” Sholar says. “Even though I was dealing with my own eating disorder, I was able to center myself in my values. I knew I had to work through it and heal to be able to provide the best care for my future clients. When things got particularly tough and I struggled to maintain motivation for recovery, I would remind myself to do it for the people that I’d help in the future.”

Sholar gained a couple hundred hours of internship experience during her time at Cincinnati State, working at UC Health's Daniel Drake Center, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, Otterbein SeniorLife, Mercy Health – West Hospital and West Clermont City Schools.

Recognized for her outstanding GPA, Sholar received a UC Transfer Ambassador Scholarship when she transferred to the College of Allied Health Sciences’ ADN program in the fall of 2021. Over the next two years, Sholar would make the Dean’s list, maintain a part-time job and complete her community rotation working as a nutrition intern at Meals on Wheels of Southwest Ohio and Northern Kentucky.

"Addie has always excelled academically, but I’ve witnessed her become more and more excited about what she’s learning over the years,” says Lindsey Mills, PhD, undergraduate program director and associate professor in the Department of Rehabilitation, Exercise and Nutrition Sciences, who has taught several of Sholar’s classes and served as her mentor. “Her face lights up when talking about macronutrient metabolism, which is a sure sign she’s destined to be a registered dietitian.”

Based on her academic achievement, professional service record and interpersonal skills, Sholar was unanimously selected by UC’s nutrition faculty for the nutrition lead position at the new student-run Interprofessional Community Clinic. The clinic, which the college launched last fall in partnership with Kroger Health, aims to provide free holistic health services to underinsured and noninsured community members. Sholar and five faculty-picked student leaders from other allied health professions have spent the past two semesters helping establish standard operating procedures and seeing mock patients.

“Addie brings much well-rounded directed practice experience into the clinic operations from her training as a dietetic technician,” says Sarah Couch, PhD, the clinic’s nutrition faculty supervisor and a professor in the Department of Rehabilitation, Exercise and Nutrition Sciences. “She has been the respectful student voice for the clinic operations, even speaking on their behalf at the opening ceremony last semester. Addie has done an outstanding job helping set up standard operating procedures, develop assessment practices and select counseling materials for the clinic, as well as successfully carry out mock patient visits as we gear up to take on our first patients.”

Adeline accepting her Ohio Outstanding Dietetics Student Award

From left to right, Lindsey Mills, Adeline Sholar and Sarah Couch.

Couch nominated Sholar for the Outstanding Dietetics Student Award during one of the toughest semesters of her academic career. Receiving the award, Sholar says, is validation for all the hard work she’s put into her degree and speaks to how passionate she is about studying nutrition. She added that “it was the pat on the back I needed” during an especially overwhelming time and “a reminder that everything was going to be OK.”

“Addie is beyond deserving of the Ohio Outstanding Dietetics Student Award and I’m so proud to have her representing UC,” Mills adds. “She is academically gifted, mature, professional and empathetic. I have no doubt Addie will be an amazing registered dietitian.”

Sholar's future impact

Adeline stands in front of a counter with stovetops and stand mixers in the Foods Lab

Adeline Sholar in the College's Foods Lab.

A dietitian that Sholar worked with early on in her recovery journey didn’t always provide the support she needed. She says that dietitian, as well as another dietitian who later provided her adequate support, have helped fuel her passion.

“Eating disorders are terrible because you become all consumed in food and body and nothing else matters,” Sholar says. “It robs you of your life, your friends and family and normal teenager experiences, and it drains you of energy and joy.”

Sholar says she “got her life back” thanks to a few impactful therapists and dietitians, and she’s motivated to pay it forward to her future patients. 

“I hope to provide the level of care that I wish to have received when I was 18 and first getting treatment,” Sholar says. “There is so much misinformation about nutrition and the proper way to treat eating disorders. Many therapists, dietitians and doctors struggle to treat these individuals because they don’t have a holistic perspective of what eating disorders are, what fuels them and what helps these individuals heal. Because I have experienced an eating disorder—even though I wouldn’t wish it upon anybody—it gives me a better perspective on how to provide my future clients more well-rounded care.”

Though Sholar’s participation in the Interprofessional Community Clinic will end this semester, she’s excited to apply for a dietetic internship at Cincinnati Children's, where she currently works in the Human Milk and Formula Room. She’ll spend the upcoming fall and spring semesters gaining more hands-on clinical and foodservice experience before she graduates and takes her registered dietitian exam in the fall of 2025. Sholar hopes to land a job in eating disorders or an adjacent field and work with adolescents and adults in an inpatient or residential setting. 

“Nutrition is such an important component of healing from an eating disorder. To make strides on the psychological side, a person has to be nourished enough to be present for therapy.” Sholar says. “I’m studying nutrition to help these people. I can bring the softness, empathy and understanding I have developed though personal experiences when helping my future clients navigate the challenges of recovering from an eating disorder.”

Passion Meets Preparation

We're excited to train the next generation of registered dietitian nutritionist (RDNs). The University of Cincinnati has a variety of undergraduate and graduate nutrition science programs.

Headshot of Katie Coburn

Katie Coburn


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Driven by empathy

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Seeking treatment for and overcoming an eating disorder motivates UC student Addie Sholar to excel in her academic journey and achieve her goal of becoming an empathetic registered dietitian.