A Necessary Change for the Better

Posted by Brian Becker on Wed, Sep 09, 2020 @ 05:56 PM

In recent weeks you may have noticed some small yet important changes the world of Acupuncture, Acupuncture school, and AOMA. Although still the same degree our Master’s, which for years was known as a MAcOM is now called the MAc, and our Professional Doctorate has gone from DAcOM to DAc. In both cases the letters OM originally stood for Oriental Medicine, representing the herbal components of the respective degrees. In fact the name AOMA was at first an acronym, the letters standing for Academy of Oriental Medicineat Austin. The wording behind each of the letters has since been dropped, and today the name AOMA represents our institutional identity.

The removal of the word “Oriental” from our degree and even the name of our organization has been a long time coming, but why is that? To answer this question we must look into the history of the word itself. Where it originated and how it evolved over the course of two millennia.

The word “Orient” comes from the Latin oriens, meaning East. In fact the word literally translates as rising, and thus the Roman name for the East was a reference to the rising sun. This was common cultural phenomenon. The Chinese character  dōng is meant to represent the sun rising behind a tree, while Japan is referred to as “The Land of the Rising Sun”.Dioecesis_Orientis_400_AD

The association of the word Orient with a specific territory began in the Fourth Century AD when the Diocese of the Orient (Dioecesis Orientis) was established by Rome. The idea of the Orient as a reference to the Middle East remained cemented in place for quite some time. Even the famed Orient Express, which ran from 1883 to 2009, ended in Istanbul.

It was during the mid-1800s that the geographical meaning of the word began to shift, and the word Orient came to encompass India and to some extent China as well. By the middle of the 20th century the word was generally used as a reference to East and Southeast Asia.

What’s revealed by this is the Eurocentric nature of the word, referring to a location based on what is considered eastern by various cultures which have dominated Europe and later the Americas since the days of the Roman Empire, and by extension the people who live in the east.

While not as overt as other terms, the word took on increasingly negative connotations throughout the age of colonization, especially in the 19th century and on into the early 20th. For many the word is now forever tied to the racism of the age. In fact many western novels of the time depicted “Oriental” peoples and nations as backwards and savage in nature. “Oriental” women were often depicted as simplistic and hypersexualized while “Oriental” men were shown as meek, cunning, or downright barbaric. Pulp magazines such as Oriental Stories, published in the 1930’s, heavily reinforced these racist stereotypes. Artistic representations of the East did much the same.

The problematic nature of this was first discussed in the 1960’s, and in 1969 Karen Umemoto, director of UCLA’s Asian American Studies Center stated “Many of the stereotypes of Orientals and Orientalism was part of the project of imperialist conquest — British, and later, American — in Asia, with the exoticization of the Oriental as well as the creation of threat and fear, as evidenced in the yellow peril movement.”

From the 1970’s on the phrase “Asian-American” began to replace “Oriental” when speaking of Americans with Asiatic ancestry, and by 1980 the word “Oriental” no longer appeared on the United States Census. In 2016 President Obama signed a bill prohibiting the word “Oriental” in all federal documents.

It is with these negative stereotypes in mind, and the damage caused by them, that AOMA 3-2019AOMA along with the world of Acupuncture as a whole has moved away from the usage of the word. The medicine taught and practiced at AOMA comes not from the falsely depicted “backwards nations” of colonial fiction, but from the rich, vibrant cultures of Asia which were just as diverse and advanced (more so at times) as those of Europe. By shedding this burdened word from our lexicon we seek not to abandon the roots of Acupuncture, but rather to continue integrating this medicine into American society.

Topics: Traditional Chinese Medicine, AOMA Herbal Medicine, chinese herbalism, herbal medicine, herbal studies, curriculum, chinese herbs, herbal program, aoma, acupunture

Gemmotherapy: Q&A with Lauren Hubele

Posted by Nicole Fillion-Robin on Thu, Sep 12, 2019 @ 04:30 PM


Lauren Hubele

Lauren Hubele is a leading expert in Gemmotherapy in the United States today. She lives in San Marcos where she swims upstream in the river every morning, year round. She’s also a vegan and passionate cook who believes in giving people the tools they need. Besides doing research, writing and lecturing about Gemmotherapy, she also has a plant-based recipe blog on her website. 

Lauren, you’ll have to excuse me, as my background with herbs is primary through the lens of Chinese Medicine - can you tell me about how where Gemmotherapy  fits into the world of herbal treatment? 

Gemmotherapy is different from TCM herbs or any North American herbal product because it uses the meristem cells of the plant. The plants are processed at their freshest state (within 3 hours of picking). It is because of the presence of meristem cells in the bud or root or shoot of the tree of shrub that is used that makes it unique. The meristem cells are what allow  for the incredible rejuvenating process that can be obtained with Gemmotherapy extracts. 

Regarding the history and training behind Gemmotherapy - how do you get trained in it? Is it through taking seminars through someone who is involved in this kind of work? 

Today there are only a handful of key teachers for Gemmotherapy around the world. Each of us shares Gemmotherapy extracts through our own lens of understanding. There is a brilliant professor in Italy, another in producer and key researcher Belgium, several professors, pharmacists, and physicians who teach in Romania, another in Canada and then there are three of us teaching in the United States. We each have our own unique approach. 

The majority of published materials and teachings on Gemmotherapy extracts presents them through in an allopathic view. Extracts are presented by the organs and organ systems affected  and the symptoms or diagnosis they were known to address. While this is helpful information it doesn’t provide a path in which to apply the extracts. Because this was all that was available when I began to study Gemmotherapy that is how I learned the extracts.  However, when I began to apply them in my practice with real patients, I discovered this method really fell short. 

Through a lot of trial and error in my own practice and hundreds of cases, a system started to form itself. I worked with the top research doctors in Romania and Italy, where I would say “I’m really seeing european blueberry acting like this, would you see if what I’m seeing is backed up pharmacologically?” And they would come back with “well not really, maybe what you’re seeing is this [aspect of the herb]”. And so in that I was able to create my own system and that’s what I teach today. 

I’m currently exploring micro-dosing extracts now, something brand new. Instead of the pharmacological suggested dose of 25 drops, only one or two is taken that engage with the nervous system. I’m working with Dr. Olah Nelly, a professor of pharmacology and biochemist in Romania. She’s the director of research for the Plant Extrakt Gemmotherapy lab and supervising my first blind study.  These are exciting times in the study of Gemmotherapy and taking a class with me is not just going to be about studying the materia medica. 

It seems like something that is old, viewed differently now in a modern lens. 

I think I would come back to what you just said and I would say it is actually an older medicine which was being looked at a modern allopathic way and I am taking it back to its roots and of looking at the body holistically. Unless we go there and look at how the body heals, we get partial results. I’m looking at bringing harmony back to the body, so that the beautiful immune system we’re born with is activated and can do its work. 

 Looking at your bio, I learned that you came to this medicine from a patient’s standpoint when you were diagnosed with cancer and were introduced to it by a ND while in Germany. Can you tell me a little about how they use this in Europe and if it’s used more there than here for now? 

In Europe Gemmotherapy it can only be used by licensed medical professionals. They could be physicians, osteopaths, midwives, acupuncturists, or other licensed in the medical field. 

Gemmotherapy is definitely used more in Europe, but it is limited to certain regional areas. For instance, it’s not really used or known in Germany. In Germany they haven’t really figured out how they want to classify it, so it’s just in the no-man's land right now. It seemed natural to me that it would take off in Germany, but instead there are countries like the Ukraine and Bulgaria excited about Gemmotherapy, with no easy access to the extracts.  

How many extracts are currently available? 

Right now, there are a good 60 that are standardized and commonly available. You could stretch that number to 75 if you are looking at some of the newer ones being studied. When I teach my foundations program, I teach 26 entry level extracts. That is more than enough to treat a wide variety of acute conditions as well as begin treating chronic care cases. 

Who is the person or organization experimenting with these newer plants?  

Dr. Fernando Pitera of Italy is considered the grandfather of Gemmotherapy. He is a homeopath, internal medicine doctor and herbalist and author of the only pharmacopeia of Gemmotherapy that exists (Gemmoterapia - published in Italian and French). Dr. Pitera is constantly reviewing other extracts and plants and has dedicated his life to this. 

There’s also Philippe Andrianne, who is conducting his own research. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting these gentlemen personally.  We have a great deal of mutual respect for one another. Even though our work and approaches are very different.

That’s kind of the nice thing, with a group so small, it’s so easy to stay connected and have some real conversations and support each other. 

Yes! I love that. Is it a newer medicine. I love batting around ideas. This only hit the pharmacopeia in the late 1950s. When we look at medicines and therapies that’s very new. It is quite insular because all the writings were in French - that really slowed down the process. My books are the first coming out in English. 

Can I ask how you work with clients differently than a homeopath or TCM herbalist might? 

When you look at allopathy, it’s the study of symptoms as opposed to the whole. Homeopaths are trained to cure the whole, but my experience as a homeopath is that it doesn’t manage to cure the whole. 

When I work with a client, I will enter with a similar approach whether you’re coming to see me for fertility or a ruptured disk. Your body heals in the same order; whatever the problem is, we’ll start in the same place, but what follows will vary. There are no set protocols (like in homeopathy). 

In TCM just as with gemmotherapy, you also are not looking at any set of protocols. If you’re looking at high blood pressure, you’re looking to treat the root of that pathology. Gemmotherapy is an absolutely beautiful complement therapy for acupuncturists, because it aligns with TCM way of treating patients with herbs. I use TCM consistently when classifying the extracts and when looking at the organ clock to plan treatment timing. I’ve worked with a lot of acupuncturists, and we’re helped inform each others work. 

How are patients finding out about this? How do most patients come to you? 

You know what? People are now searching gemmotherapy. It’s actually becoming a thing. Seven years ago, totally not true. Even three years ago, people would find me because a friend referred them but knew nothing about it. But now people are literally searching and I get emails from around the world daily with questions. 

What does your practice look like these days? 

My practice is actually the smallest part of my work today because I do so much traveling, teaching and writing (generally one book a year). I give talks for health advocacy. What I call my practice now is health coaching. It’s my goal that you become so self sufficient that you only come see me when you can’t figure it out yourself. 

I love that!

My goal is very different than when I started as a practitioner where I was the “expert” and people would come to me and if it didn’t work they would come back. Energetically, that felt uncomfortable to me. I later trained in coaching skills and learned how to give that responsibility back to my client. We collaborate on their health decisions. I am the topic expert, but they are their body’s expert. The only way to succeed is to work together. I train practitioners in all different fields to use that approach. The other is simply not serving people who feel powerless over their health and often leaves both practitioners and clients frustrated. 

I feel like many patients intuitively know what is at the root of their health concerns, so I am so glad that you collaborate with them to find solutions! 

Awareness is step one, the next steps forward require something of great interest to me. Currently I’m researching this field of emotional immunity, and how building up our emotional immunity makes us stronger and more capable of making those lifestyle choices needed for full healing. 

When we’re in this victim mode, we’re not going to GIVE UP CHEESE. That might be the one pleasure we have in life! When we build in this space, and have the capacity to have more perspective it gives us the opportunity to make important  lifestyle decisions. This is one of the most powerful changes in my practice I’ve made over the years, and a large part of what I will be teaching at AOMA. Teaching how to help our clients this way is almost as powerful as teaching gemmotherapy. 

As a practitioner, do you consult with anyone when you’re stuck in treating yourself? 

I have a long time acupuncturist, AOMA graduate, who is my acupuncturist in Austin and also a dear friend who studied gemmotherapy with me. My homeopath is in Boston whom I also consult with when I get stuck. She grew up in Kolkata with her father who was a homeopathic physician. In my opinion she has one of the greatest homeopathic minds in the U.S. 

 Right now, herbs in general are not regulated in the States, what are the differences you see in Europe? 

Let’s put it this way: I buy my product from Europe because it’s regulated. There are a few producers in the US who are making small batches. I’m not comfortable with purchasing from them yet, because they are not regulated here. I’m not a big government person by any means. But the EU and its ability to make agencies uphold the pharmacopoeia and how gemmotherapy is meant to be prepared is so important. 

 Is there anything else you’d like to leave readers to know about you that I haven’t already asked? 

It’s important for people to know what my passions are. For anyone taking this class, it’s an opportunity to come out as a better practitioner, not just to gain a new tool. I will challenge the way people look at the human body, even in a TCM perspective by looking at the layers and how they should heal. 

My personal passions are empowering mothers all over the world. I’ve started international gemmo-mom groups. These  are groups of mothers teaching mothers how to use these extracts acutely so they can treat their children in the middle of the night. This is such a safe, gentle-acting extract that it’s simple. It’s not like learning thousands of herbs or thousands of homeopathic remedies. It’s a real passion of mine as well as my developing research on  emotional immunity and gemmotherapy. 


Thank you so much for your time, Lauren! Readers - if you are interested in learning more about Lauren and her work, feel free to check out her website, Facebook, instagram and upcoming class (TX Acupuncturists will receive 8 Biomedical and 8 Herbal CEUs). 


Topics: herbal medicine, herbal studies, continuing education

5 Things You Didn’t Know About AOMA Herbal Studies

Posted by Jessica Johnson on Tue, Jun 16, 2015 @ 12:15 PM


Before I started the master’s degree program at AOMA, I did not realize the degree to which herbal studies would be a major part of what I would learn in acupuncture school.  It turns out that Chinese medicine is a vast field that encompasses much more than just the practice of acupuncture. In fact, herbs are an important facet of how we as acupuncturists help our patients get to a better state of health. They can be used in addition to acupuncture or as a stand alone treatment and they are an important staple of Chinese Medicine. So, in honor of being “in the know”, here are 5 things you may not have known about herbal studies here at AOMA!

  1. You don’t need to read Chinese to study Chinese Herbs: The herbs you learn about here at AOMA are all named in Pinyin- the phonetic system for transcribing the Mandarin pronunciations of Chinese characters into the Latin alphabet. For instance, we learn fresh ginger as “Sheng Jiang” and ginseng is “Ren Shen”. Often times, the pinyin names give a description of the herb itself, like Da Huang translates to “Big Yellow” in English. It is a very powerful herb that is yellow in color. Wu Wei Zi translates to “5 flavored seed” because this herb is said to contain all the 5 flavors in Chinese Medicine- sour, bitter, sweet, salty, and pungent.
  1. Herbs can multi-task:  Some herbs are highly versatile and can treat a wide range of illnesses and health issues. Many times, it is baffling how many seemingly unrelated illnesses one herb can help treat. For instance, Huang Qi, one of the most commonly used herbs in Chinese Medicine, can be used to treat bleeding disorders, general fatigue, organ prolapse, dizziness and vertigo, the side effects associated with radiation and chemotherapy, excess leakage of body fluids (like profuse sweating and urine due to deficiencies), compromised respiratory and digestive function, chronic sores and ulcers, various types of edema, numbness and pain experienced because of lack of blood flow to extremities, post stroke complications, and the wasting and thirsting symptoms of diabetes. Yet, this speaks to the complexity of natural substances made up of a myriad of compounds. And in combination with other substances, there is a synergistic effect that focuses on the target – the condition being treated.
  1. Not all herbs are plants: Some herbs used in Chinese medicine are in fact, unfathomable under common notions about what comprises “herbal medicine”. Certain insects make it onto the list of important herbs used in Chinese medicine. For instance, Ban Mao is derived from a type of beetle and can be used to treat various skin conditions. Also there is Ge Jie, which is derived from a type of gecko. Ge Jie is great for treating chronic cough, weakness and soreness in the lower back and knees, impotence, and diarrhea. Yes, it is a little gross to imagine ingesting these things, but they can be very helpful to some of our patients.
  1. You can find many Chinese herbs at your local grocery store: Goji berries or Gou Qi Zi are really great for brightening eyes and treating blurry vision. With other herbs Gou Qi Zi can also treat great for dizziness, lower back weakness, night sweats, and tinnitus. Also, if you ever eat pho, a type of noodle soup, you are probably eating Zi Su Ye or Purple Perilla Leaf. This herb is not only tasty, it helps treat certain types of colds, alleviates nausea, vomiting, and seafood poisoning, and it helps quell morning sickness. Gui Zhi or cinnamon twig is also a Chinese herb that treats pain, edema, dysuria, irregular menses, and is commonly used today to treat myocardial infarction, angina pectoris, and cardiac insufficiency.
  1. It matters what part of the herb you use: Different parts of the same plant can be different herbs with different qualities. For instance, Ma Huang, also known as Ephedra sinica, is the body (aerial or above ground portion) of the plant and treats the common cold by opening the pores and allowing a slight sweat, stops cough, relieves edema, and warms the body. Ma Huang Gen, on the other hand, is Ephedra sinica root, and only treats the symptoms of excess sweating. Further, in Chinese medicine, these different parts of the same plant treat opposing problems- Ma Huang releases the exterior while Ma Huang Gen does the opposite by stopping sweating.

Through AOMA's challenging graduate program I have been able to learn extensively about herbs and their uses, furthering my own practice in Chinese Medicine. Here at AOMA, graduate students complete over 500 hours of herbal education and take courses such as Herb Singles, Herbal Formulas, and Herbal Treatment of Disease. Though these courses can be difficult, they are also very valuable in an acupuncture practice. And no, I am not going to explain what “releasing the exterior” is. I will leave that for when you come to herb class!

Download Free eBook: Intro to Acupuncture & Herbal Medicine

Topics: herbal studies, chinese herbs, herbal program

3 Reasons to Start Acupuncture School at AOMA this Summer

Posted by Justine Meccio on Thu, Mar 20, 2014 @ 03:30 PM


AOMA’s Master of Acupuncture & Oriental Medicine program is a transformative educational experience that prepares students to begin careers as professional acupuncturists and herbalists. The program combines extensive clinical education with rigorous & comprehensive coursework in acupuncture theory & techniques, Chinese herbal medicine, biomedicine, mind-bodywork, and Asian body-work therapy.

Here are 3 reasons to begin your studies this summer at AOMA: 

1. Small Class-size Supports Learning & Connection

New students can apply to begin the program at three points per year: the summer, the fall, or the winter quarters. However, the summer term often sees the smallest incoming cohort with typically about 15 students starting the master’s program each July. For new students, a small class size fosters a tight-knit sense of community, allowing you to get to know your peers very well.

start acupuncture school this summer student body cumbo quote2. Flexibility

The summer quarter is only 8 weeks long. As a result, students’ academic load is often is lighter in the summer – meaning students frequently take fewer total credit hours than during other terms. Starting as a new student in the summer term with a lighter load is a great way to soften the transition to graduate school – especially if several years have passed since you were last in a classroom. You’ll become acclimated to the classroom environment, learn to incorporate school into your personal life, and “get into the groove” academically with fewer courses to balance.

Start Acupuncture School This Summer Robert Laguna

3. Make the Most of Your Summer

Summer in central Texas is often the season when many locals take it easy or even take vacations. Why not spend your summer in Austin,TX getting to know the city and enjoying the laid-back lifestyle? You can dodge the summer heat by spending your days inside air conditioned classrooms pursuing your passion and taking study breaks at beautiful Barton Springs!

Start Today Acupuncture School Karen Lamb QuoteBegin your journey this summer with classes starting on July 20, 2015!

Apply Today to Begin Classes in 2015!


Topics: acupuncture school, masters program, herbal studies, Austin, admissions, herbal program, professional acupuncturist, MAcOM

Alumni Success: Wally Doggett, Class of 2004

Posted by Sarah Bentley on Thu, Feb 13, 2014 @ 03:27 PM

Wally DoggettWally Doggett, owner of South Austin Community Acupuncture and 2004 AOMA alumni moved to Austin in the 80’s from Richmond, Texas to live the musicians’ dream.  The seeds for Chinese medicine were planted in his teenage years by an older musician friend but did not bloom till many years later.  The two would discuss all types of ideas including Asian philosophies and religion.  He began his journey in Austin working at a biotech company running their shipping department during the day and playing drums at honky-tonk bars at night.  He was also participating in qigong at the Keishan Institute.  A profound shift and deep healing happened when the institute brought Praveeta Rose (also an AOMA alumna) and Ward Tummins to talk about various theories in medicine.  As Wally states this lecture spurred him to, “take off after Chinese medicine as if my life depended on it.”  

South Austin Community Clinic has been open since 2006 and was developed while Wally was researching “acupuncture marketing” on the internet.  Wally says, “When I stumbled upon Working Class Acupuncture about four pages into a Google search …the pieces fell into place.”  He immediately booked a trip to Portland to meet Lisa Rohleder, the founder of Working Class Acupuncture, and check out her movement for community acupuncture.  Already feeling connected to his neighborhood in South Austin it was apparent to him that Austin could support a much broader market for acupuncture than charging $60+ per treatment.  Wally wanted to reach as many people as possible with this medicine and it was clear that this was the model to support his vision.  Now he says, “The diversity of people that come though the clinic is one of the most satisfying parts about my work.”

While in school Wally worked at Allen Cline and James Phillip’s clinic Turtle Dragon.  It was here that he was able to work with raw herbs and fill herbal prescriptions.  He learned a lot from this experience including the confidence to make herbal formulations a large part of his current practice.  Wally says, “I value my training at AOMA and my experiences at Turtle Dragon too much not to use Chinese herbal medicine as an integral part of my practice.”

When reflecting on his time at AOMA he remembered the rich experiences he had with professors in conversations between the breaks.  He said, “You just never know when or where someone is going to drop an extraordinary pearl of wisdom that will just connect the dots for you in a profound way.”  Wally has found that it has worked for him to follow his bliss and create his business based on what was most appealing to him.  His advice for current students is to “Follow your heart.  Find a way of working that resonates with you, and pour yourself into it.”  This philosophy has worked for him for more than five years.  He has also expanded to support two other AOMA graduates, Mike Sobin and Erica Chu.

When Wally is not busy with the clinic he is working as the president of Texas Association of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (TAAOM) as of May 2012.  Being in this position, he has been able to make a stronger alliance between the different styles of acupuncture such as community style acupuncture and other more mainstream models.  Wally says, “It is an honor to serve as a board member, and just as I enjoy the diversity of my patient population as a practitioner, one of the more satisfying pieces to me about being president of the TAAOM is the diversity of practitioners, and getting to know them all.”


Discover the Art & Spirit of Healing: Introduction to Acupuncture & Chinese Herbal Medicine

Topics: alumni, alumni spotlight, herbal studies, community acupuncture

Michael Garcia Prendes Herbal Excellence Award 2013

Posted by Sarah Bentley on Tue, Sep 17, 2013 @ 02:52 PM

herbal studies awardAt the 2013 commencement ceremony on September 15th, AOMA student Leila Plummer was recipient of the Michael Garcia Prendes Herbal Excellence Award. Since 2006 this honor has been bestowed upon a student who excels in the study of herbal medicine. The recipient is chosen by the previous year’s beneficiary, as someone who strives for superior herbal knowledge and shares the love of learning herbs with fellow students.

In 2012, the award went to Vivian Linden, who chose Leila as this year’s recipient. Vivian shares, “I believe that our most rewarding relationship with herbal medicine will be achieved through fostering a mutually beneficial relationship with our herbal allies –making them friends instead of just servants. Leila exemplifies this and it is what makes her truly excellent!”

It is clear to her fellow classmates that Leila holds a great respect for the study of herbal medicine as an academic, clinical, and extracurricular pursuit. But what is most notable about Leila is her reverence for the plants themselves.

Leila’s extracurricular herbal studies have included:

herbal studies

  • Serving and training in Nicaragua in 2012 with master herbalists providing free natural medicine to the underserved

  • Certified Community Herbalist and Herbal Apprentice from the Wildflower School of Botanical Medicine (Western herbalism)

  • Member of the American Herbalist Guild (student member) and United Plant Savers

  • Working as a wellness consultant, helping people with herbs and nutrition at herb stores and health food stores

“I am humbled and grateful to the AOMA community for thinking of me for this award. AOMA has a strong herbal program, which is why I chose this school; it is an honor to get to learn from such knowledgeable and caring faculty.  The kindness of the student body has also always impressed me -- here, learners look after each other and help each other out,” said Leila.

Michael Garcia Prendes (1964-2007)

The award is named in honor of Michael Garcia Prendes (1964-2007). Michael graduated from the University of Kentucky Phi Beta Kappa with distinction from the Honor's Program with degrees in Political Science and Sociology.

In 1990, Michael moved to Austin, Texas where he eventually continued his education at AOMA. He was a loved and cherished classmate, tutor, mentor and friend. While at AOMA, Michael was instrumental in the development of the Herbal Outreach Program. Because of Michael's generosity, many patients have been able to receive necessary herbs.

One of Michael's greatest passions and loves was tennis. Michael founded the Austin Tennis Club, a local tennis organization that has grown to over 100 members and has raised thousands of dollars for local charities. Michael loved being on the tennis court as a player, teacher and coach, and he used his talents and eye for the game to teach many tennis camps.

herbal awardMichael Garcia Prendes contracted a terminal illness and died before he could graduate. AOMA framed a beautiful print that Michael painted of a tennis player (with acupuncture meridians) about to serve a ball.  Michael painted the piece for Pam Ferguson’s shiatsu class.  The print hangs in the student lounge with the sentiment that suits Michael’s character: “Be present and focus, Lift up and Serve.”

Michael's generosity, compassion, sincerity, selflessness, and kind heart will always be an inspiration to his family and friends. Michael lived his life with integrity, honesty, and courage. Michael was a true gift to all who were lucky to know him and who were blessed by his humor, love and kindness.

How Michael helped students learn Chinese herbs

One of many students who benefited from Michael’s herbal tutoring was Consuelo Gonzalez, class of 2009.

“Michael had very special teaching qualities. He would explain with patience and humor the terminology of the herbs. Michael made it easy for us to identify the herbs. He would use pneumonic words to relate the herbs with funny stories or events to get them connected all at one category. We always had a blast each time we get together with him. It is hard to find someone like him, but before he left he gave us the guidelines to imitate him.”

Classmates remember Michael

Michael has touched me deeply and will always be a part of who I am no matter if I'm playing tennis or treating a patient. I feel so lucky to have been on the receiving end of so much love and generosity which he shared with everyone, and for which he will always be remembered. - Adrienne Kam, class of 2009

I have never met a more selfless, loving, giving man than Michael Garcia Prendes.  His concern for his fellow students overrode everything else, and up to his last days, he put others welfare before his own. - Kathy Kerr, class of 2008

Michael helped so many people, including myself, to see the true potential in themselves and build confidence in their learning capabilities.  - Sarah Wilson, class of 2008

I knew Michael to be a compassionate and wise soul. He was always kind and offered me valuable comfort when I was going through a sad time.  His donations and support of Herbal Outreach were unsolicited and showed him to be thoughtful and generous with his time and efforts. I am grateful to have known him. - Jessica Fritz, class of 2005

Previous Recipients of the Herbal Excellence Award

Erin Taliaferro, 2006

Rebecca Benson, 2007

Marc Smith, 2008

Alison Beard, 2009

Cat Calhoun, 2010

Joshua Shain, 2011

Vivian Linden, 2012

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Topics: student spotlight, herbal medicine, scholarship, herbal studies

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