First Year Reflections

trail at Saint Edward State Park


With our first year at Bastyr University done and now a few weeks into our first quarter, I thought it would be well fitting to interview some students in my MAcCHM (Master of Acupuncture with a Chinese herbal medicine specialization) program on how their first year at Bastyr University went, and what they wish they knew before coming into the program. 

My first interview is with Rhys, who prior to attending Bastyr achieved her fine arts degree in jewelry and metalsmithing, worked in the food industry, and competed in bike racing. I asked Rhys to describe her first year at Bastyr:

“My first year at Bastyr was a wild ride. I learned SO MUCH. About medicine and about myself and my abilities. Also how much community is important for our progress and success in every way. I learned to ask for help when I need it and that sometimes being vulnerable makes other people feel like they can be, and brings you closer.”

I also asked Rhys to tell me about her experience transitioning to a new school/place as she had traveled to many places prior to Bastyr’s Seattle campus in Washington State. She’s traveled in her van for bike races across the nation for a few years, as well as lived in western Massachusetts and Atlanta, Georgia the decade before. 

“I was really excited to live here in the woods and it was nice to spend my first year living in the “bubble” that is the student village in the middle of a state park. I came here knowing that the woods were a place for me to rebalance and heal, and the easy access to the forest trails and lake here became a really important part of handling the stress of pushing myself academically like I never have before,” said Rhys. 

I asked Rhys why she chose the MAcCHM program, and what brought her here. Rhys responded,

“I hear this phrase a lot but…I was called to [MAcCHM]! I wanted to go to Bastyr but when I looked at programs I just knew this was the one for me. I had read books about eastern medicine and found it fascinating and mysterious. I thought my background (fine arts in jewelry and metalsmithing, bike racing, and years of restaurant work) was totally out of left field and didn't apply at all, but it was really amazing to see along the way how all of my life experiences until here help me at Bastyr in distinct and satisfying ways.”

To close off the interview, I asked Rhys if she had any advice for prospective students.

“My advice for prospective students would be to be prepared to not have time to do anything else for a while. Something as simple as sending a piece of mail goes way down the to-do list when you have quizzes over entire muscle groups and acupuncture channels. And that’s more than ok. The other thing I wish I knew is that sleep really helps memorization and that the brain is like a muscle. We remember better when rested, and memorizing gets easier with practice. I wish I’d trusted that more! You got this,” said Rhys. 

Witnessing Rhys move on campus as my classmate has been a joy! Rhys shows that despite the workload and many stresses of school, that you can still incorporate your joy. With online classes still being incorporated due to COVID, Rhys sometimes joins us via Zoom from the outdoors after a long adventure on their bike. My advice to students would be to allow joy to be your compass for this class, as I witness Rhys do just that!

By Ariel Hannah Advincula, Bastyr MAcCHM Student