A Closer Look at Our 2017 Commencement Student Speakers

2017 Commencement Student Speakers awarding diplomas to Bastyr graduates

Each year, students from the undergraduate, Master’s, and Naturopathic Medicine programs are selected by their peers to give remarks at the Commencement ceremonies.  We had the chance to sit down with them and talk about their experiences here at Bastyr and their plans for the future.


Margaret Chaykin, BSN-DPD spent 11 years as a dialysis technician and was inspired to pursue her degree after noting the significant correlation between a patient’s diet and their disease state. Chaykin celebrated receiving her Bachelor’s degree in Nutrition - Didactic Program in Dietetics with her two daughters, Lily and Emma as “this degree is just as much theirs.” She will continue her education in Public Health at Bastyr in the fall. Chaykin expressed gratitude for faculty and fellow classmates.

"Coming to Bastyr - I’ve been able to find a community that I would not have found anywhere else. They have been just as invested in my success as I have been."


Monika Broemmer, MSNW, spent five and a half years in the military, worked in the fitness industry as a personal trainer, and even volunteered in physical therapy. After working with countless clients who didn’t understand how to nourish their bodies, Broemmer decided to move in a difference career direction as she saw that the best way for her to help people in health and fitness was to go the nutrition and preventive route. A member of the first graduating class for the Master’s  in Nutrition for Wellness program at the San Diego campus, Broemmer raved about Bastyr’s faculty.

"The level of support was above and beyond that which is required of them or meets any accreditation standard. It is part of what makes BU a community."


Randy Gastwirt, ND, spent the last quarter commuting from Maryland to California on Mondays and Tuesdays in order to stay close to his wife and still attend Bastyr. With a PhD in Biomedical Science, and almost 20 years of practicing and teaching yoga, Gastwirt found balance between rigorous science and research and his love for natural health and healing at Bastyr.

"[Naturopathic Medicine] is a wonderful way of helping people, which is the basis of medicine and being a physician."

Gastwirt’s favorite memories at Bastyr are rooted in the comradery that comes with medical school and connecting and studying with other students. He will be joining Maryland University of Integrative Health as an adjunct faculty member.


Amber Phillips, MSN-DPD, path in the healthcare field and Bastyr began in Minnesota with a desire to empower individuals to be involved in their own health. In fact, her favorite part of the Master’s nutrition program was the clinical experience - being able to work with a wide diversity of issues and patients ranging in age from 6 to 80. And the best advice she offered to her fellow graduates comes from her son who told her once to “use her real eyes.“

"A calm presence, eye contact, and active listening...are tools all those who are graduating today have learned from Bastyr. We are reminded on a daily basis to use our “real eyes” and be present with each patient."


Leena Suthar, ND, learned what Naturopathic Medicine was, made the decision literally overnight to apply to Bastyr, and has never turned back. In a span of a week, Suthar went from applying to MD school to moving across the country to attend Bastyr. Suthar has focused her studies on neurology and will be further her work in this area with her upcoming residency in San Francisco at a neurology clinic. Her advice to current and incoming students -

"There are so many opportunities here, you just have to go out and grasp them[....]Whatever your passion is and whatever you want to achieve, you can make that happen.”