Sara Haag joined the OCOM Community as a transfer student in 2014. Haag has quickly become a leader in the OCOM Student Association, works in the OCOM Herbal Medicinary, and also handcrafts items such as Chinese herb-infused eye pillows that are sold in the college's bookstore. We asked Haag a few questions on her experience as a transfer student. 

What did it mean to choose OCOM?

When I began looking at transferring schools, I wanted to be in an environment that I felt was conducive to my learning style, had a respectable reputation, and fostered a compassionate attitude for everyone. There’s a saying that it’s “in the details,” and I found with OCOM this statement was very true. From the first point of contact to the moment I walked into OCOM for the first time, I knew this was where I wanted to complete my acupuncture education. Even the aesthetic and feng shui components of the campus meant a lot. Having consideration and thoughtfulness to ensuring the “juju” is positive was incredibly important.

How was the process of changing schools for you?

Changing schools for me was made pretty easy  in terms of the process. I had clear instructions on what OCOM needed from me and what I needed to wrap up from my old school. The Admissions team at OCOM was great and very attentive in helping with the process. I didn’t have any surprises or unforeseen hidden costs, etc, and everything was laid out clearly.

Do you have any recommendations for those wanting to learn more?

Definitely talk with the Office of Admissions, make of list of questions, concerns, ask about housing, location, what’s it like living in Portland, and also request to talk with a current student. I think that that is important from a firsthand perspective to know what you’re getting into, i.e. the time commitment, and also keeping balance between personal life and school. Also, have acupuncture, and visit the school in person.

What are some exciting aspects of your education here?

I love being on the OCOM Student Association (OSA) and being a part of making the program and school better. I love the opportunities that I am presented with to participate in community service, such as volunteering at the Cherry Blossom Gala, speaking with prospective students, and participating in the MS Bike event. These are great opportunities to network and make connections with the community and alumni. I am also very proud to help facilitate awareness  for Animal Asia — particularly the Moon Bear Project, to which we donated the proceeds from the school’s annual No Talent Show and to which I hope to form a volunteer chapter in Portland, since we don’t have one here. I am also very proud of having the opportunity to make a product based on my education thus far using Chinese medicinal herbs for therapeutic rice pillows. Last but not least, I love working in the medicinary, I love being around the herbs and interacting with patients.

How will OCOM's education empower you to be the practitioner you want to be?

OCOM is very special for me because it has allowed me to be open to all possibilities. As an adult learning student, some of us are coming into this as a second career and we have already experienced a lot of life and worn many hats, and had previous careers. I think that this is an advantage to youth. OCOM has held space for me to explore and develop who I want to be as a practitioner, and changed me in very positive ways. The education I am receiving here will give me the technical skills along with some life skills that need some fine tuning. I have no doubt that I will be successful due in part to my education here.

What is it about your OCOM education that you gained by transferring?

I gained confidence to be fearless, to be courageous, even to the extent of singing bad karaoke. OCOM is a safe place to explore my humanity and what makes me a unique individual, without judgment. The instructors at OCOM want their students to succeed and their willingness to share their knowledge is genuine. That’s not to say that they are marshmallows; they can be stern — not in a way that breaks their students down — but it comes from a place of true integrity, a love for the medicine, and really wanting the students to become the best they can be as professionals.