“I have been working on formulations that have the potential to help thousands, if not millions, of people.”
What drew you to study herbal medicine?
In the mid-2000s, I directed children's theater. I had a really cool assignment to start a drama program at a private school on Maui, but had spent the year burning the candle at both ends. I developed strep throat, but was misdiagnosed twice by the conventional doctors I saw. In a matter of a couple weeks, I had two steroid shots and seven prescriptions. Two of the prescriptions were contraindicated and I developed a reaction, but the doctor was unconcerned, telling me to "jump in the ocean." I felt failed by the prevailing system and decided I needed to participate in my health by practicing prevention, and that going the natural route was the best way for me. Dabbling in nutrition and reading about kitchen herbs with health benefits stoked me for entering the program for formal study of the discipline.
Why did you choose MUIH for your academic program?
The school was accessible for people who took the non-traditional path toward pursuit of the degree. As a former English major who had spent nearly a decade in the theatrical world, I needed a program that could meet me halfway by offering a pre-requisite course that could bring me back into the scientific fold. I also wanted to make sure I attended an accredited school, so that my diploma would mean something.
Describe your path since graduating.
I had the great fortune to be a stay-at-home dad for the first 15 months of my elder daughter's life. That was built by circumstance of just having graduated and a country still getting its footing after a recession, but I wouldn't trade that for anything. I blogged, got published in a couple places, and worked for an herb shop. While in school, I had told my advisor that I would be moving back north close to our families, preferably to Vermont, and would work in the industry. When I said this, I didn't even know New Chapter existed, but I am now working in New Chapter's Science and Innovation Department and am living in Vermont, a little more than an hour from where I grew up.
What have you accomplished that is a result of the education and skills you received here?
The school provided me with a strong background in traditions and scientific inquiry. Our capstone project - an herbal monograph - prepared me for a key component of my job, distilling scientific research of herbs to aid in formulation. In my early phone interviews, my department vice president was very interested in the research I did on Ocimum basilicum and I believe having this project figured in landing my subsequent interviews during the process.
What has been your most exciting or fulfilling professional experience to date?
I have been working on formulations that have the potential to help thousands, if not millions, of people.
Are you achieving your professional goals?
I learned long ago - as a dime-a-dozen actor in Los Angeles - not to have goals, because you will often find yourself wanting and being sad. It is fulfilling that when I tell people what I do and where I work, they tell me about the products they take and how they have positively affected their lives.
What would you like to do next, professionally speaking?
Continue to have interesting experiences in my current job, through research and formulation.
Chris Webb completed his Master of Science in Herbal Medicine in 2011. That program was redesigned into the Master of Science in Therapeutic Herbalism.