Cheered on by family, friends and Bastyr employees, 289 students from 14 degree and certificate programs walked onto the stage as students, but left as graduates.
Christa Louise, PhD, MS, principal speaker at the ceremony, shared a compelling story about her journey to becoming the director of testing for the Naturopathic Physicians Licensing Examinations (NPLEX) in 1990, which also led to her role as chief executive of the North American Board of the Naturopathic Examiners in 2000.
After a devastating automobile accident 30 years ago, Dr. Louise was struggling to get her life back on track. She felt “fragmented” after a year of seeing allopathic medical specialists, and was ready for a new approach when she was referred to a naturopathic doctor. For once, somebody took the time to explain to her how her injuries were causing each of her impairments, and he diagnosed therapies to address each one.
“He guided me on my path to recovery,” Dr. Louise says. “I came back from the edge.”
She credits natural medicine with saving her life, yet it took 10 years for her to find and pursue an opportunity that allowed her to help naturopathic doctors help others. Despite the part-time hours and low pay, she took the job as director of testing for NPLEX and never looked back.
With a wavering voice, Dr. Louise closes her story with the knowledge that sometimes the most tragic things in life can lead you down the best path: “I have to think that the day that drunk driver ran into me was the luckiest day of my life.”
Dr. Louise’s address was followed by graduating student speakers Lisa Woo, receiving a Bachelor of Science in Nutrition; Melissa Thompson, Master of Science in Nutrition; and Claudia Guy, Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine.
Woo’s encouraging words reached out to her fellow students as she reflected on her time at Bastyr, referring to it as “a unique and quirky place that only insiders truly understand.” Her parting advice was to “embrace any uncertainty,” and to be the “change-makers.”
The ceremony came to a close with a special presentation by President Daniel K. Church, PhD. Staff and students remembered Michelle Eustache, a naturopathic medicine student who would have graduated with the class of 2012 but died tragically in spring 2011. A gong was presented in her name, accompanied by the reading of a letter from Eustache’s parents to students.
Graduates were presented with undergraduate and graduate degrees in naturopathic medicine, acupuncture and Oriental medicine, midwifery, nutrition, herbal sciences, exercise science and wellness, and health psychology, as well as certificates in naturopathic midwifery and Chinese herbal medicine. One hundred years after Dr. John Bastyr’s birth, his mission and passion for natural medicine thrives through the class of 2012.