August 26, 2020
For Edgar Mojica, current student and staff member at Acupuncture & Integrative Medicine College (AIMC) in Berkeley, pursuing a doctorate degree in East Asian medicine felt like a natural choice. Throughout his educational and professional experiences, Edgar’s main goal has been to guide patients toward their own healing through education. With a master’s degree in education and post-bacc pre-med experience, the combination of healing and teaching has always been his dream career.
“I had to do an internship at a hospital and came to realize that my passion was for teaching and the healing arts,” he says. “I originally thought Western medicine would be that path, but I realized the patient/practitioner relationship is lacking in Western medicine and that is very important to me. [In Western medicine] doctors spend as little as 15 minutes with patients. It doesn’t provide the connection with patients that I wanted.”
He also found himself physically and emotionally drained during his pre-med studies due to the competitive, high-stress nature of the program. Though this type of learning can motivate some, for Edgar, he felt it was not the right learning style for him. “Health should nurture everyone involved,” he says. “It’s a path of self-cultivation and self-healing.” Though he was already prepared to take his MCAT exam and gained invaluable experience and knowledge as a pre-med student, he decided that it ultimately wasn’t the right path for him.
Pursuing a future in East Asian Medicine meant he could heal and educate patients in a way that worked for him, while also using the knowledge he gained as a pre-med student. At AIMC, we want our masters and doctorate graduates to be able to work collaboratively with traditional medical professionals throughout their careers.
When he decided to pursue higher education in East Asian medicine, Edgar toured several schools. What immediately stood out to him about AIMC was how much everyone genuinely cared not only about each other but about the communities around them. “I saw a pattern with the kinds of associations and community partnerships the school was fostering,” he says. “They were geared toward serving low-income and immigrant communities in the area.” In such a demographically diverse area, taking a genuine interest in the community’s well-being is important. Especially for students like Edgar who want to dedicate their life’s work healing others.
Dedication to Diversity
Edgar was also eager to attend a school in Berkeley, which has a history of innovation, change, and acceptance of holistic approaches to health. Our school is located in the heart of the Bay Area, which has an extremely diverse population. AIMC’s student body offers worldwide diversity.
As a bilingual student, connecting with other Spanish-speaking students and Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) was important to Edgar. The staff was able to help him with this goal by hiring a bilingual receptionist and making efforts to create more materials written in Spanish. However, we are constantly looking for more ways to improve so we can be an inclusive and accessible school for students of all backgrounds.
Welcoming School Culture
During his tour of AIMC, Edgar was told that the school had a “lovey-dovey, Berkeley vibe”. Now, as a student and employee, he couldn’t agree more and this is one of the parts of our school he enjoys most.
“A lot of students transfer from other schools and notice how much community support and love there is among students, staff, and faculty,” he says. “There is so much love and care that the instructors have put into creating learning solutions and modalities to foster creative learning. It’s truly a student-centered program. Every detail is taken care of to ensure that students are happy and feel prepared.”
When he started the program, he didn’t have to buy any textbooks because older students and alumni gave them secondhand copies. He was also handed down a student herb kit, which typically cost about $1,000.
Coming from a highly competitive pre-med background, Edgar was overwhelmed and thrilled to experience such a warm, supportive culture. “It was surprising to see how much students interact with each other and how friendly everyone was,” he says. “[We are] almost like siblings.”
Throughout his time as a student and staff member, Edgar has seen this compassion and care time and time again. But what especially stands out is the way AIMC handled the challenges and uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“They are by far the only school that launched into telehealth medicine so quickly. And no students were left hanging without their education. They were able to continue to see patients and receive credit,” he says. “Instead of COVID putting a pause on our trajectory, the school used the situation as a springboard to bring in more innovative modalities and features that students could use in the future.
Opportunities During School
After starting the doctorate program, Edgar realized he had a true passion for the art of Chinese herbal medicine.
“Herbal medicine is a whole science on its own. It requires a particular sensitivity to have a relationship with plants and transmit that knowledge. The herbal doctor is highly respected in China and there is a master/student relationship that needs to be honored.”
Our beautiful location near the Berkeley Hills allows students to participate in outdoor herb walks. These excursions encourage students to learn about the healing herbs and plants that are native to California. With climate change becoming an increasingly important issue, Edgar is a part of a student group that focuses on how herbal medicine students and professionals can reduce their carbon footprint. It’s a great opportunity for the students to connect with nature and learn how to grow and work with native plants instead of requiring herbs to be shipped from elsewhere. To further their knowledge of the herbs, we also have a student garden where we grow many of the plants used in the program.
Goals For the Future
AIMC offers clinical internships to help students prepare for their careers. These real-world opportunities have allowed him to hone in on specific skill-sets, not only from a theoretical standpoint but from an applied practical approach. Our educators and staff want students to have every opportunity to grow and succeed in their chosen field.
“This is a school that is young in spirit even though it’s been there for many years,” he says. “It constantly seeks to implement and bring in new things and expand. They want to tap into things that will give students an advantage. As a student at AIMC, you will have more options and more ways to enrich your path than you will even be able to take advantage of.”
When he completes his doctorate program at AIMC, Edgar wants to eventually own his own private practice, but would also love the opportunity to continue teaching the art of herbal medicine and healing. “Traditional Chinese Medicine is a medicine of the people and of the farmers, people who didn’t historically have access to more Westernized medicine,” he says. “There is no end to how much you can learn and grow in the field.”
Pursue a Future In Healing
We’ve been at the forefront of East Asian medicine and acupuncture for over 20 years. It’s our goal to graduate well-rounded students who can have professional relationships with other medical professionals in the field. Unlike many other acupuncture schools, AIMC offers literacy in western medicine and hands-on training in outpatient clinics and hospitals.
If you want a career that allows you to heal others through herbs, acupuncture, and meaningful connection, contact AIMC today. Set up an admissions meeting today to learn more about our masters and doctorate programs!