Congratulations WNP2! What's next for our most recent Wholistic Nutrition program graduates?

Wholistic Nutrition Program feature

Sometimes we can’t believe how fast 22 months go by! This past weekend our Wholistic Nutrition Program Group 2 (WNP2) had their last clinic, where they saw some 40 clients, completed grand rounds and, on Sunday afternoon, celebrated the end of their program.

We are very proud of them all and wish them the best in whatever direction their education takes them. As part of their ceremony, students talked about their future plans, as well as how the program and their group has impacted them. There quite a few tears shed and lots of inspiration and insights shared.

Some of our graduates have already launched or expanded a wholistic health care practice or plan to do so in the near term.

Some have discovered new avenues such as blogging, farming and community outreach to get the word out about the importance of wholistic nutrition.

And a few have decided to let the information they’ve received over the past few months sit with them before deciding their next steps. A few students will be moving or settling into their communities outside of Portland, while a number of our graduates will be based in the Portland metro area.

Wholistic Nutrition Program group

Overall we are quite impressed with all of our graduates and what they have planned. We thought we’d ask a few of them to share their insights directly

So, let us introduce you to Shannon, Lauren, Teri, Valerie, and Susan, four of the recently graduated Wholistic Nutrition program students!

How do you envision yourself applying the skills and knowledge you’ve gained in the program once you graduate? For example, do you think you’ll join a clinic or organization, start your own practice, or integrate into your own life and the lives of your family and friends for a healthier lifestyle?

Shannon: I have learned so much from this program and I am really excited to be able to help people find that balance in their life for vitality and good health.

I plan on retiring in the next 15 months and this will be my retirement career. I envision opening my own clinic or partnering with another like-minded health professional. I feel this career is one that will be educationally evolving and offer a bit of a challenge to masterfully put all of the pieces together for each client.

Lauren: The knowledge and skills I’ve gained from the program will certainly enrich my own life, as well as the lives of my family and friends – it already has!

I’m extremely grateful for the personal insights and reflections that The Wellspring School has inspired and fostered. While opening up a practice is not in my near future, I do hope to find a creative way to use my certificate. I don’t have all of the answers at the moment, but they’re evolving.

Valerie: There are a lot of platforms I’d like to explore around food and nutrition (classes, blogging, product) but I do know that I’d definitely like to work with families.

My hope is that if we work on getting off to a healthy start around how to nourish oneself we can avoid a lot of the maladies and dysphoria that often occurs around food later on in life.

Susan: Post graduation, I am hoping to start a private practice or, if the opportunity arises, partner with a clinic.

I am excited to do one-on-one counseling, and possibly teach some public classes to share my knowledge as well as get my name out there.

One of things that piqued my interest during the program was our brief foray into herbs; so, I am also planning on enrolling in a professional herbalism program to further my knowledge in that area and include it in my practice.

Because I have recently relocated to a state that does not allow persons with the Wholistic Nutritionist credential to practice, I am currently considering other titles under which I can provide the same services (i.e. health coach or herbalist once I have completed that program).

Teri: I am very excited to get started working with individuals and families to build healthy, life long habits around good nutrition. 

I feel like The Wellspring School gave me such a firm foundation in wholisitic nutrition and eating a whole foods diet.

I am also a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and I plan to incorporate my new knowledge around nutrition into my practice. I have already established a website ( with a blog and have rented a tiny space in the Laurelhurst neighborhood to see clients. Starting in October, I will be doing a series of talks about nutrition at the Northeast Community Center in Hollywood.

Wholistic Nutrition Program group

What did you most enjoy about the program – and in what ways did the program challenge you?

Shannon: The most rewarding parts of the program were the times we worked together as a group and/or teams for Whole Foods Cooking I & II, the public events, and our research projects. It was so satisfying to see all the hard work beautifully come together whether it was a meal or project. I feel proud that I belong to such a great group of people and hope to work with them as peers.

Also, rewarding is the first time that I was able to help a family or friend with information that I learned in class. The most challenging for me was the freaking out over every homework assignment – worrying that at 58 years old I might be too old to learn or get a passing grade.  I had to keep telling myself “you can do this” (and she did!). 

Lauren: One of the things I’ve enjoyed most, aside from all that I’ve learned, is the opportunity to interact and create friendships with each of my classmates. This program attracts some amazing people. I’ve learned so much from this group of accomplished, dynamic, genuine, and creative women. They have definitely enhanced my overall experience!

As a recent college graduate, I thought I was eager for some distance from the classroom, but just couldn’t resist the temptation to join the program; I really enjoy the classroom setting. However, this experience has been significantly different from my undergraduate career.

Learning the art of juggling school and a full work schedule forced me to redefine what it meant to be a diligent student. But it can be done! Even when I was busy and exhausted, the opportunity to learn was a welcomed change of pace to being a part of the working world.

Valerie: I most enjoyed the camaraderie of the program. It was so empowering to be around a group of people every month that was interested and curious about so many of the same things I was interested in when it came to food and nutrition. The energy around that was amazing and is something I will miss very much.

Susan: When I began the program, I was most interested in humans’ relationship to food from an environmental and political perspective. Food sourcing and the politics of food production were a focal point throughout the program. I was able to expand my knowledge of these important and familiar topics, but I was pleasantly surprised to be so inspired by the Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) component of the program, which was new territory for me.  

I am not aware of any other nutrition program that includes this in their curriculum, so I am pleased that The Wellspring School offers it in their course of study. 

In learning about my own health and discussing friends’ and family’s medical conditions, TCM has been an extraordinarily useful tool in understanding the human body, pathology, and the healing process.

In terms of challenges – I was working full-time throughout the program, so it was difficult to commit all of the time I wanted to learning about holistic nutrition and TCM. That said, I know that it takes several lifetimes to “master” these topics, and I know I will continue my education both formally and informally once the program ends. In general, I would like to express how meaningful the past two years have been for me. I have grown personally and professionally, and I owe a lot of that to this school.

When I “discovered” holistic nutrition a few years ago, I was excited just to know that the field existed, and when I found out I could make it into a career, I felt as if I had found my calling. I am grateful to The Wellspring School and our teachers, and I am thrilled that this field is reaching more and more people.

Teri: My favorite part of the program was building a community of people and resources committed to a whole foods lifestyle. By meeting once a month, cooking for and with each other,putting on community events and engaging in community service, I feel like I have a network of people committed to a healthy life for themselves and their friends and families.

If I had chosen a program that was primarily online I know I would have missed the personal interaction the Wellspring provided.

The most challenging part of the program for me was learning about Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). Before attending Wellspring, I had had no exposure to Traditional Chinese Medicine. In the beginning, it felt like I was learning a new language but fortunately with the more exposure we had to TCM, the more it made sense. Now, I use the TCM principles of energetics with my clients on a regular basis.

Wholistic Nutrition Program graduation

We are now enrolling for the next Wholistic Nutriton program beginning in February. What advice would you give someone considering the program as her or his next step?

Shannon:If you are considering the program, it is a commitment. There are many different options for enrollment that work for many different people. Some students tried out the program for a month or two before signing on for the entire program.

For me, I made the commitment and then stuck with the commitment no matter what detours came. I traveled to Portland from North Idaho every month, staying in several Airbnb’s in the neighborhood, and using public transportation. I analyze everything for so long that usually I miss the opportunity.  

I soon realized that if I continued to stew about whether I should enroll or not….22 months would be up and I would either still be stewing and analyzing or I would be a graduate and on to a new career. I am so glad I jumped in. It really went fast – before I knew it the program is over and I am graduating. What a great experience.

Susan: As cliché as this may sound, the benefits of this wholistic nutrition program are as good as what you put into it. The resources are available if you want to learn more, depending on how much time or motivation you have to devote to it.

I found that I benefited the most when I did the pre-class reading and carved out the time and mental space to be as thoughtful as possible when completing the assignments.  

Although I was initially intimidated by the community service project, I found it to be extremely rewarding.

My project (teaching a class) was really challenging to me as I had never done that kind of thing before. It was more preparation time than I had imagined–and it forced me out of my comfort zone–but ultimately it was a confidence-building experience. So, I encourage everyone to choose a project that seems fun and challenging!

Finally, just a piece of practical advice: something I had not anticipated when I entered the program is that I would want to practice in a different state (or practice at all!). I suggest that if you have an inkling you might want to practice elsewhere that you take into consideration the laws and required credentials of that state for working as a nutritionist before you begin.

Lauren: For those potential students out there who may be undecided, if you have the interest and desire, I say “go for it” and “stick with it”! Even if your vision for your post-certificate life changes once, twice, three times, and then maybe even back to your original idea, be persistent. Your commitment will pay off. Regardless of how you ultimately “use” your certificate, you’ll be armed with a great sense of accomplishment, confidence, and the know-how to care for and nourish yourself and your loved ones!

Teri: If someone was thinking about the Wholistic Nutrition program, I would suggest they attend one of the classes. Before I enrolled, I took the Wholistic Nutrition class that was offered to the community. Within the first week of the class, I knew wholistic nutrition was an area I wanted to explore further.

Valerie: When I started the program I was very open about whether or not I would apply the knowledge I learned in a professional way. The program is a beginning, not an end, and it opened the door and put me on a path to explore new possibilities for myself that I would not have had otherwise.

Thank you all for sharing your insights with our community, Shannon, Lauren, Susan, Valerie, and Teri! Congratulations WNP2! 

p.s.: We are now enrolling for the next program starting in February 2015.


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