Home town: Edmonton, AB, Canada
Graduation date: December 2018
What was your first experience with chiropractic?
As a kid I was always the tallest in my class. I didn’t fit in the chairs, so I had some bruising on my low back. My aunt, a massage therapist, recommended to my mom that we see a chiropractor. As a byproduct, my spring allergies that were really severe every single year disappeared magically.
What inspired you to become a chiropractor?
My high school biology class is where my interest first piqued. I had a phenomenal teacher and was intrigued by how brilliant the human body is and how life develops. I knew I wanted to do something meaningful working with my hands and helping people. I also knew I wanted to run my own business. I did some research and I said. “There is no way I’m going to school for eight years to become a chiropractor!”
Instead I went into business. I didn’t want to just wander into the sciences without a game plan, so I finished my business degree in accounting and finance, which I loved.
Shortly after, I started working at a big accounting firm in Edmonton. It wasn’t long before it was clear to me that I couldn’t sit behind a desk for 40 more years. And I was literally sick, on and off for three months, for no reason. One night I wasn’t able to sleep. I had this really weird achy pain in my body. I saw my chiropractor the next day. I went home and slept for five hours and started recovering. It was later that week, while I was in side-posture about to get adjusted, that it clicked, “Oh! I have to be a chiropractor!”
Were you mentored by a chiropractor before starting at Life West?
I was. My chiropractor’s office is a multi-doctor office and she was out on maternity leave, so Dr. Ken Bergquist really stepped up to the plate. I went in and saw him and got adjusted and said, “Man, I think I need to be a chiropractor.” I had like a million questions for him, and he said, “Ok, let’s go out for a beer.” I think we probably talked for four hours, and it kind of evolved from there.
What kinds of questions did you ask your mentor?
To be honest, a big question was about money. It was a massive investment. I had a great job so it was going to be a lot of time, and I wanted to make sure that the payoff was there. Once that box was checked, we moved on to the more important questions.
Another big question I had was about energetic or personal boundaries, not taking stuff home and being able to be truly present with everybody. I also had concerns over my height. Some people say that chiropractors blow out their backs and their shoulders. I wanted to know if there was a technique I could do that would be safer or if I could adjust the table height appropriately.
The biggest thing was I just wanted to understand more about what chiropractic was, because my understanding had evolved. But that understanding took me a long time to get to, and so I wanted to make sure that I saw the whole picture, which I didn’t. I started to see more and more of the true chiropractic picture and my own potential to be in it.
How do you like to present yourself as a student leader and mentor at Life West?
I was really engaged in my first two and a half years in a lot of different clubs including Tic Talkers, Adjusting Ninjas, and the Canada club.
I also hosted financial seminars. Conversations with my friends and colleagues at school showed a lack of understanding and awareness in regards to finances. I saw a lot of people graduate, and suddenly they understood what their loans meant. They were intimidated by them and ill-equipped to deal with them. I thought, “That’s not cool. This is a huge investment.” You need to be comfortable managing it. If you can’t make your loan payment and keep your lights on in your office, you’re not going to be serving, period. It’s that simple.
I created evening workshops and coached close to 100 people. I covered some basic financial fundamentals: saving and spending, loans and compound interest, and some simple habits students can build throughout school that are going to radically change their financial position at the end of school.
The response was overwhelming. My plan was to do it once, and then people kept asking about it. And they’re still asking.
Why did you become a Student Champion?
Because of my experience at Champions Weekend and the support that I had and how welcome I was. I think that it’s really important that people get a genuine sense of the student experience here at Life West, and the Student Champions are a pivotal piece of that.
What do you think has been most beneficial for you as a Student Champion?
I think it’s been around communication. It’s been in my confidence, in my understanding, and my ability to articulate what chiropractic is about and to meet people where they’re at. With some people you need to talk posture and pain and how chiropractic works through the nervous system on those pathways. For some we need to keep it really, really simple.
What has been your favorite moment in chiropractic school?
The first one that pops into my mind is the first adjustment. There’s all this build up into what it is: your training, your analysis, and you’re working toward it. And it’s this massive question, “Can I do it? Will I be enough? Will I be able to serve people and make a difference?”
Once you get that first adjustment, and then you start getting a few more, and then all of a sudden … it takes a lot of time to feel really confident. But that first adjustment is just a huge accomplishment.
Use one word to describe your chiropractic experience so far.
Two words: paradigm-shifting.
– By Crisselle Garrido, Life West staff