Bio: Ellen grew up in Durham, N.C. and studied English in undergrad at North Carolina State University, just down the road in Raleigh. At the time, she was determined to become a high school English teacher. Though she eventually drifted away from that career path, she hung onto the idea of somehow sharing knowledge with others and helping them reach their highest potentials. It was not until she struggled with her own gastrointestinal health and felt failed by her conventional medical doctors at the time that she sought out a more integrative approach to medicine. Through her own nutrition research, learning how to advocate for herself as a patient and working for a Naturopathic doctor in Chicago, she found her passion in this field of work.
Prior Education or Experience: Elle is a proud career changer. As mentioned, she studied English as an undergraduate. When she lived in New York after graduation, she worked at a museum, a fashion company, and an Insurtech start-up until she finally realized that nutrition was her calling. Before starting UWS, she completed pre-requisites while working as an office manager of a Naturopathic doctor in Chicago. This experience gave insight into how a small private practice operates.
Why did you choose UWS?
I chose UWS, because I knew that I wanted to do a research-based program that focused on functional medicine and nutrition. At first, I was worried about it being an online program, but when I took a look at the nutrition programs being offered at schools near me, nothing stood out to me the way that the UWS course list did! I spoke with an admissions advisor, asked a million questions, found alumni to speak to who had nothing but great things to say and I was convinced. The price and convenience of the online program were also big selling points for me. I am able to work part-time and complete my coursework when it is best for me.
What has been your favorite class/instructor?
I loved the Gastrointestinal Imbalances class taught by Dr. Jason Hawrelak. This class was so packed with information and the passion that Dr. Hawrelak has for gut health and probiotics especially is so evident! This class was exactly why I wanted to do a program like this and I wish I could have taken it for several quarters.
What has been your experience with learning in HNFM’s online learning environment?
While there is a bit of a learning curve if you are used to an in-person learning environment, the webCampus platform becomes a breeze in no time. I quickly developed a weekly schedule for myself that helps me keep on top of my coursework. On webCampus, I love that there is a section in each course to ask your instructor questions. The course facilitators and instructors put a lot of time and effort into making us feel supported and updated with information.
What has been the most surprising or eye-opening part of attending UWS?
There have been so many eye-opening moments throughout my first year with UWS. The biggest one would have to be how I have seen myself rise to the occasion and give these courses my all. Being new to the science and health fields, some of the information we are learning can be intimidating and very challenging! These are not easy-A courses; they require a lot of hard work and the online set-up requires a good amount of self-discipline. This makes me all the more proud of myself and all of my classmates for doing our best each quarter!
What do you hope to do after graduation?
I hope to become a CNS (certified nutrition specialist) and combine that with the integrative health coaching business that I am starting this spring. I feel confident that what I’m learning in this program will prepare me for my board exam and for working out in the field. I also am excited about the internship that I will be doing to fulfill one of my electives. I appreciate that UWS allows us to complete credits that way and I can start working towards the requirements for the CNS exam.
What is your favorite activity to destress?
I have been taking pottery classes for the past few years and I recently joined a bouldering (climbing) gym! As I am on the computer for much of the day between work and school, I find it mandatory to get out and do activities that do not involve a screen.