I am not sure where my love of plants came from, but there is a familial connection. My mother was an avid gardener and I grew up in a home with hundreds of plants. My uncle is an amateur botanist. I have always had a deep love for the natural world.
I grew up in a small college town in the Appalachian mountains of Virginia. Born to Chilean parents, I gravitated toward making international friends. I lived in Germany and South Korea in the early to mid-1990s. In Germany, I lived with three PhD-bound ground chemistry students. We composted everything, ate lots of cabbage soup, and drank tea obsessively. I quickly became accustomed to a more natural, unprocessed diet that had a low-impact on the environment. Living in South Korea, I discovered Chinese herbs in the herbal pharmacies. I would buy huge stalks of fresh ginseng at the street market, boil them down, and drink this all day long, until my roommate begged me to stop!
My first real dive into herbs was in College Park, Maryland. I was immediately hooked after taking classes from Claudia Joy Wingo at Smiles Herb Shop. Afterward, I completed a Masters in Public Health and moved to Atlanta, Georgia to work in health research and evaluation. Soon after, I remarkably ended up in Susan Kramer’s office. Of course, she whipped me back into shape after recommending herbs that supported my liver, hormone balancing, and leading me to discover that I had a gluten-intolerance.
I have lived in San Francisco for six years and I discovered The East West School in 2010. Yep, I am coming up on my fifth year with EW! I have watched several fellow students graduate before me with successful herbal practices such as Nicole MacDonald. I am definitely on a slower track, but I remain committed and inspired, especially to be able to learn from such world-renowned herbalists as Michael and Lesley Tierra. I continue to try and balance a very busy public health and policy career with pursuing my other loves – spoiling rescue animals, political activism, dancing, and, studying herbal medicine.