Cheers to the New Year: Celebrating All We Achieved Together in 2021


Here we go into the new year! First, take a moment to reflect on the knowledge and experience you’ve gained this year and the challenges you’ve triumphed over. Together, we shared remarkable moments of resilience, fortitude, and joy across our global community.

These are just a few highlights of the achievements we’re most proud of this year:

Providing Expanded Support & Resources for Students and Graduates

New Writing Center Resources

In August 2021, ACHS piloted a Writing Center to support students with writing needs in ENG 101, ENG 201, and multiple research courses. Jenn Pizzuto, Ashley Ehmig, and Gillian Turner met with students to provide writing support. Students reported that these one-on-one sessions helped improve their confidence in the writing process. Additionally, students indicated that the writing support sessions helped students develop a structure within their papers and understand how to conduct academic research. Many students noted that this was just one more way ACHS made them feel valued and supported. We’re excited to expand writing support in 2022. 

Expanded Accommodations Services

In September 2021, ACHS welcomed the expertise of new ADA Coordinator Carrie Perez. Carrie brings 15 years of experience in working with and advocating for students to help every student achieve their integrative health and wellness education. If you’re a current student or graduate, we invite you to meet Carrie in our Facebook Coaching Group online here.

Verifiable Credentials Through Credly

In June 2021, VP of Institutional Strategy & Global Impact Kate Harmon spearheaded ACHS’s new partnership with Credly to help students transform the knowledge, skills, and achievements earned as part of their ACHS studies into verifiable digital credentials. ACHS’s lifelong learners can learn, earn, and build their holistic skills portfolio focused on industry-centric skills through this partnership. View current micro-credential offerings online here for opportunities to upskill in 2022.

Re-Imagining What’s Possible for Assessment 

At ACHS, we are committed to meeting students where they are, including the many different ways students learn. In 2021, ACHS faculty employed several initiatives to re-imagine what’s possible with assessment and help students learn in new ways. For example, Dean of General Education Dr. Lori Holdren adapted ACHS’s math courses to include a final project instead of a traditional exam. Who hasn’t lost sleep over a math exam?! Through this initiative, Heather McMahan brought her math knowledge to life with an art project. The image below illustrates Heather’s learning journey from the original object she set out to draw through her calculations and the beautiful final drawing!

Series of pictures with a skull, match calculations, and final drawing





Heather shared, “This process was very different for me. I have to say I am very happy with the results. I successfully changed the size of my initial sketch and using a simple equation, was able to accurately represent the proportions. I also found the straight line sketch as a foundation a useful tool for filling in curves. While this doubles the amount of time it usually takes me to complete a drawing, I think the end product is well worth the extra time.

Celebrating Our Graduates!

picture of two graduates in cap and gown

The highlight of every year is the opportunity to celebrate our extraordinary graduates! In June, we hosted an incredibly inspiring virtual graduation ceremony where we congratulated 351 graduates on the hard work, dedication, and passion that brought them to this milestone! We’ve certainly had the opportunity to learn new ways to cultivate community and connect at a distance. The heartwarming experience of this year’s graduation brought our virtual, global community to life. Hear from Outstanding Graduate Cindy Ross, Famous Alumni Brittany Sena, our 2021 faculty award recipients, and celebrate our 2021 graduates with our video online here

We also celebrated several graduates turning their passion into a profession. Associate of Applied Science in Health and Wellness graduate Ursula Pirtle was recognized in 2021 as Locally Voted Best Life Coach and Best Professional Organizer 2021 for Central Texas. Ursula’s business, Happy Healthy House, offers a wide range of wellness services from coaching to home organization. 

Master of Science in Holistic Nutrition graduate Lindsay Little also grew her wellness practice, Full Bloom Acres, where she offers a 12-week wellness program. Get inspired by our students and graduates on the ACHS blog online here.

Graduation of ACHS’s Inaugural Presidential Scholarship Recipient Dig Chadhaury

Picture of Dorene Petersen and Digambar ChaudharyThis month, ACHS celebrated the graduation of the inaugural recipient of ACHS’s Presidential Scholarship, Digambar “Dig” Chaudhary of Nepal. Dig completed the Graduate Certificate in Aromatherapy program and is now using his advanced aromatherapy training to expand Nepal’s essential oil production and aromatherapy industry. Dig’s mission is to use his training and experience to develop more opportunities and economic development for Nepalese farming communities. Look for an interview with Dig early next year to learn more about his project and how to support these farmers!

Dig is pictured here with ACHS Founding President Dorene Petersen during a visit to Nepal. 

At the Forefront of Integrative Health

picture of cells with bio warning sign

Since 1978, ACHS has been a pioneer in integrative health and wellness education with a commitment to sharing evidence-based research and promoting the growth and development of our field. 2021 saw expanded research in many areas, including aromatherapy science and some frightening developments, like new COVID-19 variants and even a rare “superbug” found in Oregon. ACHS Founding President Dorene Petersen shared several promising research summaries for this new era for viruses and bacteria.  

ACHS also developed two professional credential programs designed to support practitioners and consumers alike as consumer use of essential oils and dietary supplements experienced exponential growth during the pandemic:

  • Certified Dietary Supplement Professional (CDSP)™ credential: ACHS Founding President Dorene Petersen served as a member of the Certified Dietary Supplement Professional Committee Board of the National Association of Nutrition Professionals (NANP) tasked with developing NANP’s new CDSP™ credential. Candidates are eligible to sit the CDSP exam after completing an approved exam preparation program. ACHS was proud to launch the first approved CDSP™ exam prep program this summer. Learn more online here.
  • Certified Aromatherapy Safety Professional (CASP)™: ACHS Founding President Dorene Petersen and Dean of Aromatherapy Amanda Lattin collaborated to develop the first certified aromatherapy safety professional credential available in the U.S. The Certified Aromatherapy Safety Professional (CASP)™ credential is a comprehensive, four-course micro-credential providing critical aromatherapy safety training for today’s product formulators, practitioners, retailers, distributors, or consumers. Learn more online here.


ACHS also offered a ground-breaking aromatherapy conference, Aromatherapy In Cancer Care, to a global community made possible by our ACHS Dean of Aromatherapy Amanda Lattin and expert faculty. The virtual event highlighted research demonstrating aromatherapy’s potential as a complementary part of cancer care and reported evidence-based information on this important topic. If you missed the 2021 conference, you can access the incredible knowledge shared by earning the  Aromatherapy in Cancer Care micro-credential online here. This micro-credential includes lecture recordings, presentations, and bonus materials and resources.

Embracing New Communities

blue box with welcome message and ACHS and Hawthorn University logosIn 2021, ACHS welcomed students and faculty from Hawthorn University into the ACHS family. ACHS was honored to be entrusted by Hawthorn University and the Distance Education Accrediting Commission (DEAC) to continue Hawthorn’s legacy and continue their students’ learning journey when the institution closed its doors on December 15, 2021.  

Giving Back

In 2021, ACHS provided institutional scholarships totaling $30,000 to students to help them reach their goal of graduation! Meet some of our 2021 scholarship recipients online here and learn how to apply for a scholarship online here

As part of our commitment as a Certified B Corp™, ACHS also donates 2% of essential oil sales to support a wide range of global education initiatives, including aromatherapy and sustainability initiatives, and allocates funding each year to support other community impact organizations. ACHS staff and faculty work together to thoughtfully select local, national, and global nonprofit organizations that help further the ACHS mission and vision. In 2021, ACHS supported diversity, equity, and inclusion; health and wellness; sustainability; and animal welfare organizations. We look forward to continuing to broaden our reach in the new year! 

Launching Into 2022

What are you most proud of from 2021? Now take these with you and make time to dream up your goals and set up your path for a fantastic year ahead. We’re honored to be on this journey with you all!

We’d love to hear from you! Share your proud moments and inspirational story in the comments below.


Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to treat, diagnose, cure, or prevent disease. This article has not been reviewed by the FDA. Always consult with your primary care physician or naturopathic doctor before making any significant changes to your health and wellness routine.

About American College of Healthcare Sciences

American College founded in 1978, is a fully online accredited institute of higher education specializing in holistic health. Based in Portland, OR; our goal is to make research-driven and science-based holistic health education taught by industry-leading experts accessible to anyone anywhere while still giving students a hands-on experiential learning experience like a traditional college and a strong sense of community, school pride, and student bond.

This commitment to our students and graduates reflects in our current survey results that reflect 98% of our students would recommend ACHS to a friend or family member.

We believe education is the most powerful tool for changing an individual and the world around us.

When a person enrolls at ACHS, it is vitally important that they graduate with the tools they need to forge their own holistic and sustainable missions, build up their communities confidently, and change the face of healthcare with knowledge.


One Response

  1. What an exciting year it’s been for ACHS, focused on student-centric learning and support, and development of new opportunities to engage learners across modalities in new, innovative ways! I’m especially proud of our commitment to a strong proponent of our mission, vision, and values demonstrated in the ways we give back. In 2022, I’m committed to growing our reach academically and through giving back to our global community. Cheers to the new year!

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