About Alisa James-Polite

Licensed cosmetologist and salon owner Alisa James-Polite has clients who are concerned about hair breakage or loss, or who confide in her about other health concerns. 

“Sometimes they’ve tried many different products and nothing works,” said Alisa. “I thought, the food that we eat must have something to do with that.” 

“I am also a dancer and dance instructor,” she continued. “I teach traditional West African and Afro-Caribbean dance. Nutrition plays an important role in exercise and movement.”

Alisa wanted “to get the deeper knowledge, the bigger knowledge, the broader knowledge behind nutrition and how it really works,” and enrolled in Schenectady County Community College’s associate degree program. 

When she was ready to transfer to a Nutrition bachelor’s degree program, one of her SCCC professors suggested Russell Sage College. 

“Everything happened so fast and so easy,” said Alisa of the transfer process.  

She was accepted very quickly after applying and found everyone at Sage welcoming, from the academic advisor who helped her with last-minute registration to the public safety officer who walked her to class after she asked for directions on her first day. 

“It made me feel great,” she said. “Everyone was so helpful in making it happen for me.” 

One of her favorite classes has been Organic Chemistry, which she excelled in and for which she is now a teaching assistant.

She also appreciated the community service component in Innovating to Impact, part of Sage’s general education curriculum. 

For that class, Alisa was part of a small group of Sage students who staffed a writing program at a local high school for a semester. 

She said the skills she developed as she worked with the high school students — reaching out, listening, being quiet and letting the students express themselves — are comparable to skills she will need as a nutrition counselor. 

Alisa will complete her bachelor’s degree in December 2022 and then would like to pursue the graduate work required for the registered dietitian credential at Sage. 

“Sage is preparing me to go out in the world and be the dietitian that I really want to be,” she said. 

As for the specific work she eventually wants to do, she is keeping her options open. 

“Medical nutrition therapy is what I was thinking about, but then I’ve seen so many other opportunities that I wouldn’t mind trying.” 


“Sage is preparing me to go out in the world and be the dietitian that I really want to be.”

Alisa James-Polite