As a little girl, Ray spent a great deal of time with her German grandmother who was well versed in herbal folk medicines. "She had a flower garden, a vegetable garden and an herb garden. We were always picking certain plant parts, grinding them, drying them, or making tinctures. My grandmother never took a pill or an aspirin for anything. She also knew about using food for medicinal purposes."
"After I married and had kids, my youngest daughter seemed to always be sick. Wanting to be a good mother, I thought the way I had to handle things was to go to the pediatrician. After months and months, nothing was working. At that point, I fell back on my roots and applied the natural medicines I learned from my grandmother," says Ray.
"When my husband saw the success of my home remedies, he suggested I should do this for a living. Hence I started my journey to become a naturopathic physician."
Once she decided on a career change, she finished the final two years of her bachelor's degree in National University's Bachelor of Biomedical Science Degree Program. Afterwards, Ray moved right into NUHS' Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine Program.
"I definitely think it's a challenging program, and I was extremely excited to discover the depth of our program compared to others."
Ray recounts how she organized a team of NUHS ND students to participate in an ND "College Bowl." "Because our ND program was so new at the time, National's bowl team had no member who had more than four trimesters of an ND education. Still, we held our own against teams of 8th trimester students from all the other schools and gave them a good run for their money. It made me feel like NUHS might be the 'Harvard' of naturopathic schools."
What's Ray's advice to others considering a career in naturopathic medicine? "You can never go wrong with natural medicine. People have been treating themselves for thousands of years. There are even places marked in the Bible with natural medicine. We used it all the way up to the 1930s when we introduced penicillin. The irony is that we've never been sicker than we are now since we introduced molecular medicine."
What's in Ray's future? "My picture when I graduate involves giving back to the school. I believe every student should leave a legacy to help their alma mater and make it better. I would also like to participate in a 'doctors without borders' type program in Costa Rica. I have a missionary friend there who says they are in desperate need for accessible ways to keep their people healthy."
"After that, I also want to go into private practice in Illinois, starting a family practice focusing on adult health," says Ray. Toward that end, Ray is also a member of the Illinois Association of Naturopathic Physicians, which is working for legislation to license naturopathic physicians in Illinois.
"But the most important goal I have is that when I die, I want to hear: "Well done my good and faithful servant."