RISE Scholars

Michelle Cardel, PhD, RD
University of Florida
RISE Cohort 5


My decision to pursue a career in nutrition and obesity research came about in a very roundabout way. As an undergraduate at Florida State University, I enrolled in a class titled, Death, Dying, and the Individual, and my teacher brought in a hospice group to speak. They educated us on hospice’s mission to provide comfort and support to terminally ill patients and their families, with the goal of improving the quality of a patient’s last days by offering comfort at the end of life. The speakers explained that it was difficult to get people to volunteer at hospice because many people are uncomfortable with the topic of death. I thought to myself, “This is something I could do,” and after their presentation, I made a decision that will forever change my life and signed up to be a volunteer. I underwent 40 hours of training before I was able to see a patient. Once I began visiting patients, I knew that hospice was going to be part of my life forever. As a volunteer, you see the best and the worst in people as they struggle to let go of life or the life of a loved one, and it is an honor to be part of such an intimate time of one’s life. I learned so much from my patients in the decade that I was a volunteer, particularly from the ones that faced death with a positive attitude, smiling until the end. They are all my own personal heroes and I carry their teachings with me every day.