College Graduates Record Class

PORTLAND, Ore. (July 5, 2016)–The Class of 2015 is the largest graduating class in NCNM history, according to figures from the Registrar’s office. Registrar Kelly Garey said approximately 167 students received degrees this spring.

A packed house at the Oregon Convention Center cheered the new grads June 28. Heather Zwickey, dean of the School of Research & Graduate Studies, told the crowd, “We are forever bound together by a passion for justice, altruism and most importantly, health. Today we celebrate our commitment to building a better world.”

Student speakers gave funny as well as poignant talks about their experiences and hopes for the future. An emotional Ashley Grimmel, recounted the day she was accepted to NCNM as “the happiest day of my life,” a joy that was tempered by news of the return of her mother’s cancer. The Grimmel family decided Ashley should go ahead with her plans to attend NCNM. Her mother died during the final days of Ashley’s studies here. “As difficult as it has been to be here and to finish my program successfully, I know that I am able to stand here today because of the strength and the true healing power that NCNM has to offer to me and to the rest of the world.” See Ashley’s full speech at 26:00 of the commencement video.

Student Casey Carpenter said “the experience was a little different than my idealistic notions.” She said the experience was deeper and more multifaceted than any brochure could relate. She recalled long class days, little sleep and having to put up with the aroma of microwaved salmon in the student lounge, but spoke of “learning something of ourselves,” and the power of the learning community. “We arrived here together, encouraged and supported each other along the way, and when we walk across that stage, we commence. Today we walk away from an era to embark on a new kind of journey, the kind that doesn’t have a brochure.” See Casey’s full speech at 32:14 of the commencement video.

Student Rachel Neuendorf spoke of widely disparate personalities and approaches to the medicine from fellow students, but said: “I realize that the individuality present in our class is what gives us our strength. We will better be able to relate to our patients by embracing this uniqueness.” She also spoke of the hard work, passion and courage it took to go unafraid down the road less traveled, and the challenge to get patients to follow. “So, congratulations Class of 2015 and remember: You are what you eat, stop and smell the flower essences, and get a taste of your own medicine!”

Commencement keynote speaker and honorary degree recipient John Weeks (49:30 in the commencement video) recounted the reawakening of the naturopathic and Chinese medicine movements in the late 1970s. “Something was going on in our culture that was bringing people to want and express a different way of doing things.”

He said the few articles written during that time about alternative medicine always included a quote from someone calling the medicine quackery. Weeks, a longtime writer and advocate of alternative and integrative medicine, said those days are mostly in the past, as advocates, many of whom were from NCNM, worked to found schools, gain accreditation, standardize licensing and get recognition from the federal government.

“They figured out what the strategic pieces of work that had to be done were and got it done,” he said, “Now we are not fighting for our lives, we are invited in, and we are creating health not just increasing care, moving from sick care to health care.” He said the challenge now is for the professions’ graduates to become leaders and change agents “getting deep into people’s lives and changing them through your practice. Go out and get it done!”

See the full Commencement videoCaution – large file takes a little time to load.