Wow, what a year it has been! Since I took over as the President at American College of Healthcare Sciences this year, we’ve had some big successes and a lot of fun! Our mission is core to all that we do, and it has been my pleasure to lead our team to the following achievements:
- We received the 5th Place award for the Greenest workplaces in Oregon for 2018, from Oregon Business Magazine
- We conferred 380 Program conferrals in our October graduation ceremony
- Our surveys showed us that 98.11% of students are satisfied with their studies
- We enrolled 602 new students in 2018, and 122 students returned to take an advanced program
- We funded three new wells in Nepal in the village where our wonderful Founding President Dorene Petersen volunteered in 2016
- 48 States and 4 countries were represented by enrolled students in 2018
- We celebrated our ninth year of being recognized as a military friendly institution
- Students posted 7,498 Discussion posts and submitted 6,390 assignments and 2,266 media recordings
As a master gardener, a fourth generation herbalist, and a mom of three, I couldn’t resist a little garden theme for our wonderful infographic. I was surprised right before Christmas with a gorgeous gift from my team of seeds, plants, and a garden journal that inspired the theme of my message for going into 2019 - they clearly know me well and what I love to do with my kids.
I realize that I do think of each department as a garden. Our team of faculty and administrators carefully look after our students and graduates to help each individual grow, thrive, and realize their dreams through their education - whether they are taking a year-long Certificate in Aromatherapy to learn how to safely and effectively enjoy all those essential oils they have on the shelf - or taking the 18-month Master of Science in Aromatherapy with the goal of teaching. My goal is for our team to be happy joy-filled gardeners, and each of our students and graduates to be gorgeous sunflowers. Ok, I can get a little carried away with my metaphors! But seriously, the graduation ceremony was inspiring this year. Hearing people’s stories was truly moving. Lives are being changed by the work we do here: Electrical Engineers at Intel are completing Master of Science degrees in Holistic Nutrition and grandmothers are earning degrees for the first time. There are no metrics that are more important than these amazing stories, and our wonderful PR team will be sharing more of these via our blog in 2019.
I find my gardening plans often are reflected in my life. As I have been sorting through my seeds and planning a simpler but still fabulous vegetable garden, I also find myself craving a simpler life overall. As we head into the New Year, I am sure I am not alone when I say the world seems even more chaotic... and sometimes we just need to find some space to breathe. From a neuroscience perspective, having too much “noise” or cognitive load in our life can actually stop us learning (building new synapses and strengthening synaptic pathways with layers of myelin sheath - yup it sure is busy in there!), so I’m going to suggest something a little different - don’t hesitate to say no more in 2019. Saying no and creating space in your life to fulfill your goals is so important. Saying no gives you room to say yes to the things that will make you happier, more fulfilled, and bring you joy.
Those of you who know me have probably heard me talk about joy a lot. It comes from multiple sources, but I am continually drawn back to The Life Changing Art of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo. (Konmari!) This is all about decluttering and tidying your house to enjoy a more minimalist life, and it translates into a lot more than your junk drawer! We’ve been minimizing for about three months now at my house, with the end perhaps coming into sight, but with still a lot more to do. I’ve involved the whole family - much to my teen son’s dismay - and we use the time we’re sorting and giving thanks to the things that are ready to move onto other homes to talk about making good choices. I’ve been talking with my four-year-old twins about what happens to all those plastic toys that they want at Target, but that will be forgotten at the bottom of the closet in a week, and eventually find their way to a landfill or even worse, into the ocean. I was immensely proud on a recent trip to Ross when both twins picked up toys, put them down and announced they didn’t really need any more toys and the plastic would be bad for the animals in the sea. A #parentingwin instead of the tantrum I was expecting! My goal is to say no to shops and say yes to find time to go and play outside in the mud, and plant seeds and tend our indoor plants and play with beads and twine and our animals.
What does this have to do with education? This philosophy of less is more, playing and engaging our senses is filtering through to ACHS. In 2019 you’ll find more streamlined processes, clearer instructions, and even more labs! That's right, in 2019 we will be incorporating more practical lab activities into our classes. You tell us you love the labs and they really help you get into that deep learning phase - and it is so vital if you are to retain what you learn past graduation (and that’s the whole point, surely). Your Professors have been sending over some wonderful suggestions to our instructional design team this week that really makes me want to pull out my chemistry set! We also have some exciting new partnerships and some exciting new projects and programs in the works that I can’t wait to share as soon as the final approvals are signed!
So to sum up, it is truly a delight to have worked with my team and our students and graduates this year. We have an amazing team of passionate and committed folks here, no matter who is at the helm. As we head into our 41st year, I wish you all a very peaceful and serene New Year and a 2019 full of learning and inspiration!
Erika Petersen Yigzaw