By COURTNEY ANDRADE
Mary Villalta Brooks was a volunteer at Mercy Hospital when it first opened. She developed a passion for providing healthcare for residents of Los Banos. Brooks explains, “I don’t want somebody to have to travel 40 miles or an hour for health care.”
Now, local Registered Dietitian, Mary Villalta Brooks RD MS MPA, has been recognized as a member for 50 continuous years of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, the world’s largest organization of nutrition experts.
Brooks attended the 50-year member celebration during the national convention in Orlando, Fla. She has attended many conferences throughout her career, but she said this was an “incredible event.” Seventy-eight members who met the 50-year milestone were present. Brooks said, “this was an event where they reflected on how things have changed in the industry over the last fifty years.” Together they represent a portion of the organization that is made up of 112,000 Registered Dietitians.
Throughout her career, Brooks has been the Registered Dietitian at County Hospital of Merced and Mercy Hospital (Dignity Health). She has also been both program director and nutrition instructor for the Dietetic Technician Assistant Program at Merced College.
Brooks continues her affiliation with Memorial Hospital Los Banos and, to date, is the last of the original employees of the hospital since it opened 55 years ago.
Mary Villalta Brooks is the daughter of a WWII veteran who impressed upon her the importance of education. Her parents deeply believe in college and encouraged her pursuit of a career in healthcare management. Brooks encourages all, but especially women, to pursue higher education. As she puts it, “All education pays off.”
Brooks’ career was inspired by her time volunteering in the hospital. Her most sincere wish is for the community to be involved in the hospital. Brooks has seen firsthand how healthcare is improved when hospital and community are united.