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Human Lactation Consultant Certification Program Meet Rachel Lee

Rachel Lee, Drexel Human Lactation Consultant Certification Alum

Hometown: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Undergraduate: BS - Drexel University
Graduate: MPH – Harvard University, 2023; Nutrition and Food Sciences – Drexel University, 2017

Can you tell me a little bit about yourself before you came to Drexel?

Yes! Prior to coming to Drexel, I was enrolled in a PharmD program. I quickly found that I did not enjoy pharmacy in any capacity, so I left and went to find something that would appease my interest in integrative and functional medicine, Eastern medicine, and/or alternative medicine. Since all these areas had a foundation of food being medicine, I came to Drexel to learn more about nutrition!

What drew you to the Human Lactation Certificate program, and to Drexel, specifically?

Honestly, the Human Lactation Certificate program wasn’t something I was actively looking for! I stumbled, or rather, was “forced” to attend a seminar featuring Nikki Lee, RN, BSN, MS, IBCLC, RLC, CCE, CIMI, CST (cert appl.), ANLC, CKC, RYT500, on breastfeeding and infant nutrition for one of my nutrition classes. I will always thank my then-professor and longtime supporter, Beth Leonberg MS, MA, RDN, FAND, LDN, who made her students attend the seminar for class participation.

Though Nikki Lee doesn’t know me, both Beth and Nikki changed my life that day. I was so enthralled by the major of our bodies and infant nutrition that I immediately signed up for the Human Lactation Certificate program as my electives while going through my nutrition program at Drexel. Fast forward almost seven years later and I have dedicated and continue to dedicate my career to maternal child health!

What did a typical day in your program look like? What is something unique about your experience in the program?

It was very busy! As a student in the nutrition program and taking on the courses for the IBCLC certification, there was a lot to do. Despite this, I found the courses to be very engaging and the clinical hours extremely helpful! With Drexel being a part of Philadelphia, which has rich history with breastfeeding, I felt that I had access to an amazing network of IBCLCs who were excited and willing to teach the students about the profession. The wealth of wisdom, experience and knowledge in the faculty here was astounding to me. I mean, several of the professors that taught us were the ones who wrote the textbook! How cool is that?!

What have you been doing since you completed the program? How did your time here prepare you for your work today?

I attribute many of my accomplishments since I graduated largely to the unique perspective that Drexel helped me to cultivate with the lactation program. Coupled with my knowledge of integrative and functional medicine, I can bring another voice to the table among other professionals and provide insight on how to look at complex individual and public health concerns.

Currently, I am finishing up my Master of Public Health at Harvard University. I am concentrating in maternal and child health and humanitarian studies. As part of my work, I am a research trainee in the Department of Pediatric Newborn Medicine at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital, where I work with neonatal intensive care unit infants and breastmilk. I also participate as the president of Philadelphia Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (PhillyAND) and will join the board for the Pennsylvania Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (PAND) as the chair of diversity and inclusion in 2022.

What advice would you give incoming students in your Drexel program?

It can be a huge commitment to pursue additional education (trust me, I’m going through it now!), so I urge you to ask questions to all alumni to gain better perspective! I was blessed to be able to finish my Human Lactation Certificate program during my undergraduate program, so I may have a biased view, but I truly recommend this program! I have learned so much, and without having done these courses, I would not be where I am today! If you have a passion for infants, these courses will supplement and grow your fascination and love for infants and everything that comes with it. Most importantly, as I always say, everyone eats! And that includes little humans who can gain so much in a world that only gives so little.