As an aspiring dietitian, William Tuyor likens himself to Alfred from DC Comics’ Batman.
A trusted and loyal companion to Batman, Alfred offers Gotham’s guardian sage advice and wisdom to help him fight crime and battle supervillains. Tuyor, and other nutritionists, arm their clients with the knowledge to combat ailments and achieve health goals.
“I’ve always thought food can give you superpowers,” says Tuyor, who received a Bachelor of Science in Nutritional Science from the Rongxiang Xu College of Health and Human Services at Cal State LA. “My role is a supportive role—I am here to give you the tools in your arsenal to pick you up when you’re falling down. If I make that impact on another person, then I feel like I did my job.”
Tuyor, a 35-year-old Downtown Los Angeles resident, is part of Cal State LA’s Class of 2022 and graduated summa cum laude during the university’s 75th anniversary. In the fall, he will begin a master’s degree program in nutrition, healthspan and longevity at USC.
Born in Japan, Tuyor moved to Cerritos, California, with his family in elementary school. He remembers having a special relationship with food and its varieties from a young age, loving vegetables and eating foods like octopus tentacles at the school lunch tables.
After graduating from high school, Tuyor took communications courses at community college and spent years in the workforce in jobs in project management and retail operations but didn’t feel fulfilled.
He rekindled his interest in food while playing in adult dodgeball leagues, testing out how eating different foods, like protein or carbs, would impact his performance in matches. He was fascinated by how what he consumed could make him tired or energized.
Tuyor buckled down, finishing his required courses at Cypress College before transferring to Cal State LA in fall 2020. Much of his experience at the university was during the COVID-19 pandemic, but the support of faculty members in the Nutritional Science Program in the School of Kinesiology, Nutrition, and Food Science kept the program engaging and welcoming during virtual instruction.
“The faculty really made the program what it is,” Tuyor says. “For them to be so understanding and to be really involved with you, especially being over Zoom, it was a great experience to feel like they really had our back.”
With most classes resuming in-person instruction this academic year, Tuyor was able to take part in hands-on learning experiences. In a community gardening and food sovereignty course with faculty member Maja Broz, he spent time in Cal State LA’s Edible Garden located in student housing. Tuyor and his classmates planted sprouts in the garden’s wooden raised beds.
“Mine is right here and it’s still growing,” Tuyor says, standing in the garden, smiling as he points to his Black Krim tomato plant.
Tuyor’s experience studying nutrition at Cal State LA expanded his understanding of the field.
“It’s more than just tracking what you eat. How you treat your food is not your own decision. Where you live makes that decision for you, how much you make, or what your finances are makes that decision for you,” Tuyor says. “It became this way bigger subject than I ever thought it could be.”
Outside of the classroom, Tuyor served as president of the Cal State LA Student Dietetic Association, coordinating presentations for students about food and nutrition education and creating networking and leadership opportunities for fellow organization members. He also held an internship with USC Athletics, supporting the nutrition of student-athletes on the basketball, volleyball and beach volleyball teams.
Throughout the pandemic, Tuyor delivered meals to seniors and low-income individuals in Little Tokyo several times a week with Little Tokyo Nutrition Services. “You really see how food can rekindle someone’s happiness,” Tuyor says. “It’s really important to always be part of your community.”
His ability to speak Japanese allowed him to help and connect with community members who didn’t speak English. He cherishes the experiences he has had volunteering and plans to continue the work after graduation.
“William is a change agent,” says Suzanne Elizondo, a lecturer in the School of Kinesiology, Nutrition, and Food Science and an advisor for the Student Dietetic Association. “Everything he touches is transformed through his vision and service mentality. I love how he starts important conversations about food access and food justice and stands by them until completed.”
In the future, Tuyor hopes to carve out a niche in the sports nutrition world by focusing on working with esports competitors. Esports, short for electronic sports, is a burgeoning industry. The gamers experience injuries and require diets that differ from traditional sports athletes, and many new products are emerging and being marketed to them, Tuyor says.
“It’s important to advocate for communities who are not paid attention to and it’s really important to like what you do at the same time,” Tuyor says. “That’s what I am hoping to do—pioneer my own future.”
This summer, Tuyor plans to work with a company contracted to provide corporate wellness programs for Riot Games, a major video game developer and esports tournament organizer.
He hopes to develop standards for esports nutrition during his graduate program at USC.
Looking ahead to his career, Tuyor is determined to help empower his clients to know about their food and make the right decisions for themselves and their health.
“Nutrition really should be about your happiness,” he says. “There is no good food, there’s no bad food, there’s just the right decision for you and how you want to live your life. Eating shouldn’t be a chore.”
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California State University, Los Angeles is the premier comprehensive public university in the heart of Los Angeles. Cal State LA is ranked number one in the United States for the upward mobility of its students. Cal State LA is dedicated to engagement, service, and the public good, offering nationally recognized programs in science, the arts, business, criminal justice, engineering, nursing, education, and the humanities. Founded in 1947, the University serves more than 26,000 students and has more than 250,000 distinguished alumni.
Cal State LA is home to the critically-acclaimed Luckman Fine Arts Complex, Pat Brown Institute for Public Affairs, Hertzberg-Davis Forensic Science Center, Hydrogen Research and Fueling Facility, Billie Jean King Sports Complex and the TV, Film and Media Center. For more information, visit www.CalStateLA.edu.