5 Insights from a Knowledge-Hungry New Student

Marissa Castello

Meet Marissa Castello, a personal wellness coach, mother, former boutique owner and self-described "learning machine," who started her studies in Bastyr's Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine program during summer quarter 2011. Although Castello has been on campus for just a short while, she has plenty of thoughts into what future students can expect.

From what you've seen so far, what's this place really like?

I love the environment. I love the herb gardens. I love the healthy food in the dining commons — it's like brain food. I love that there are so many like-minded people, yet with such diverse backgrounds — Peace Corps volunteers, ethnobotanists, people from Africa and Puerto Rico and all over the place. You make friends immediately and hang out outside of class quite frequently. It's wonderful to make these connections so fast.

On LinkedIn, you describe your role here with the wonderful term "learning machine." Where does that come from?

I have a hunger for knowledge. My husband teases me because there are always five different books at my bedside, and I'm reading all of them at once. It's just a real zest for learning and for life. I love that, in my first classes here, I'm delving into the scientific side of the body. But there's also this other side of spiritually oriented learning, plant medicine and different traditions. There are different ways to balance the rigorous science part.

How did you end up at Bastyr?

I initially studied biology in college, but I didn't see myself as an MD, which is what the advisors told me was the main route from there. So I switched to business and owned a boutique for young women. Then I discovered a macrobiotic culinary school in Austin, Texas, and studied nutrition pretty extensively for four years. Later I was working the front desk of a chiropractor's office, basically a dead-end job, and a colleague told me about naturopathic medicine.

I think we discover our life in steps, further and further, and I knew that becoming a naturopathic doctor was the next step for me.

What are you most jazzed about in the fall quarter?

I'm looking forward to getting to know the rest of our class. I think there are about 100 more people, which is huge. And just connecting with like-minded people and forming relationships. These are going to be lifelong professional colleagues.

Is there anything you wish you knew before you started?

When I was meeting everyone at the beginning of summer quarter, I remember saying a lot of, "Wow, you were a nurse for four years," "You have a biology or psychology background," "You have this and that." It's kind of intimidating.

Then I realized that most naturopaths have to be small-business owners, too. And my background is going to serve me really well. I can learn about biology and the body and pathologies and all these things — and I have a head start on the business part. So I know I can do this.