Sara Danko empowers fellow NUNM graduates to build strong communities

ND-MAcCHM grad and general student commencement speaker encourages new alumni to develop a network for future success.

Sara Danko

With the Commencement 2024 approaching on June 29, the National University of Natural Medicine is proud to highlight our speakers for the ceremony.

As General Student Speaker at this year’s National University of Natural Medicine (NUNM) commencement ceremony, Sara Danko said they hope to empower fellow graduates by highlighting the many milestones achieved through their hard work over the years.  

Community-building will also be critical for new NUNM alumni to focus on in this next chapter, said Danko, a Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine and Master of Acupuncture with a Chinese Herbal Medicine Specialization student. 

“Strong communities create strong providers,” Danko said, adding that the ability to develop and maintain a network that can live on after the NUNM experience will be a later factor in their success.  

Before studying at NUNM, Danko worked for a non-profit in San Francisco. In recent years, they’ve been a NeuroScience student representative for a nutraceutical company and work-study at NUNM Health Centers.  

As an NUNM student, Danko received many scholarships, including the NCMIC Scholarship, which is awarded to ND students who are in their final year and identify in an underrepresented population such as race, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability, socio-economic status, and more. 

They were also recognized with the Tender Heart student award at NUNM’s Make a Difference Masquerade Ball in March. The honor recognized Danko for showing great compassion and sensitivity in their efforts to encourage or inspire others.  

NUNM caught up with them to learn more about their experience and vision for life after graduation: 

NUNM: What has your experience been like at NUNM? 

SD: My experience at NUNM has been one of deep connection. Throughout my time as a student, I have had the incredible opportunity to make partnerships with other providers doing community-centered work. These connections have reinforced my desire to start my career with a strong commitment to serving others. 

What’s something you’d like folks to take away from your speech? 

SD: My hope is that my speech reminds us of the excitement that is on the horizon. I hope that we can start our next chapter with a celebratory mindset. My speech aims to highlight the hard work that we have put in as students, which has prepared us for whatever comes next. 

What piece of advice do you have for students leaving NUNM? 

SD: If I could share one piece of advice for students leaving NUNM, it would be to develop your community, and know that people have your back and are there to support you. Whether it be the NUNM community of students, staff and faculty, or a community outside of school, strong communities create strong providers 

Anything else you’d like to share? 

SD: I am deeply moved and inspired by Angela Davis. A quote I have leaned on throughout my time at NUNM is, “Anyone who is interested in making change in the world also has to learn how to take care of herself, himself, theirselves.” I wish my fellow graduates and all current students to take deep, loving care of themselves. 

After graduation, Danko said they hope to be in primary care, with a focus on mental health and gender-affirming care, helping to address systemic inequities within the healthcare system.  

by Ashley Villarreal, Marketing Content Specialist