This woman is something else. Beautiful on the inside and out. She is someone I love to talk to as she just lights up the conversation with her positive attitude and the fact that she will cheer you on to your goals and encourage you without a second thought. I first met Cara through my best friend when he was attending the same University that she was attending. He ending up moving in with her and on my first visit to see him in Portland I was sleeping on her couch! The first time I met her in person I was welcomed right into her tribe. A tribe that includes millions of pictures as this girl is the selfie queen. However, this girl is so much more. She has worked extremely hard and overcome some very trying times to get to where she is today. I am so excited to get to share her story with you. So here she is, in her own words. I hope you enjoy!
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- University of Western States– Portland, Oregon
- Doctor of Chiropractic, September 2013
- Summa cum laude
- University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta
- Bachelor of Science, June 2010
- Specialization in Cell Biology
What is the secret to success?
What is the secret to success? If it was as easy as just one secret then wouldn’t everyone be successful? Success to me is waking up every day wanting to be better and to do better than yesterday. It is making goals and then reaching them. It is not letting obstacles get in your way. It is about mindset, passion, purpose, and growth.
I grew up in a small town in rural Northern Alberta. My parents separated when I was three years old and my brother and I split our time between their two houses. My parents were not very traditional in the sense that we did not grow up with many rules. My mom worked out of town often and so we were on our own from a young age. My mom worked so hard usually having 2-3 jobs at a time to make sure my brother and I always had everything we wanted and needed. I even figure skated growing up, one of the most expensive sports. However, money was always a struggle and even as a child I knew the pressure my parents were constantly under. My dad would always say, “I would give you everything if I could honey”. I think my childhood experience is one of the major driving forces for my success today. My parents worked hard but they did not have the skill set or the education for a lucrative career.
Sometimes You Just Know
This experience led me to want more, to want a better life for myself and my future children. I wanted a career I could be proud of, one that gave me independence and allowed me financial freedom. I remember my first trip to the Chiropractic office like it was yesterday. It was year 2000 and I was 12 years old. The waiting room had toys and books littered about, a large plant in front of a bay window shedding light on the front desk lady with a big smile. It was warm, inviting, and relaxing. Once in the treatment room I couldn’t help but stare at the posters on the wall, huge anatomical pictures of the various body systems. I told my mom I wanted to know all the parts of the human body. There was a computer in the corner and a giant blue bouncy ball. After a short wait, Dr. Gingerich entered. He had red hair and a deep voice. He sat in front of the computer on the big blue ball and asked me a few questions while typing away. The reason I was there was because I had fallen hard on my tail bone during skating practice. After he finished his history and exam he had me lay on the table. Then with a little twist and a quick push my back popped and immediate relief washed over me. In five minutes he had me feeling 100%. I walked out of there thinking to myself, “wow what an amazing job he has”.
Of course, I was young and there was no way I could already know what I wanted to be when I grew up right? Well…wrong because I did know, and I wanted to be a Doctor of Chiropractic. What an amazing ability to be able to decrease pain, heal the body, and improve someone’s life without the use of drugs or surgery. I was sold. Academic work always came easy to me, so I knew nothing was out of reach. I was lucky though, I really enjoyed my schoolwork and had a passion for learning. At age 12 I was in 8th grade, I had skipped grade 6 after a series of aptitude tests deemed me eligible. I started working at age 14 as soon as I was legal, I knew going to post-secondary school was not going to be cheap and although my parents would support me if they could I knew they did not have the resources.
At age 17 I graduated high school with Honours and about half a dozen scholarships ranging from $500-$2000. I moved out and started my Bachelor’s degree that fall. Throughout my undergrad years I worked 2-3 part time jobs to afford tuition, books and living expenses. I continued to apply for scholarships I was eligible for, as every little bit helped. Although I flew through secondary school with ease, I am not going to lie, the first couple years of my degree were tough. I was 17 living on my own and there were a lot of distractions and temptations. For the first time in my life I let my grades slip. I failed an English paper, the first “F” I had ever seen. I then received “D’s” in one Biology class and one Chemistry class. The reason I am not afraid to admit my faults is that its not the fault that matters but how you grow from it. Being a very self-motivated and disciplined person, I was disappointed in my performance and knew I could do better. I re-wrote the paper, and re-took both those classes receiving an “A+” for all three. I never received a letter grade below a B for the rest of my post-secondary education (8 years and 3 degrees in total).
It Takes Hard Work
In 2010 I graduated from the University of Alberta with a Bachelor of Science with Specialization in Cell Biology. I was 22 at the time and I was working part time in a Neuroscience lab performing spinal cord injury research. My work from the time I spent in the lab was published in three different scientific journals and I was invited to present my research at an international conference in Vienna, Austria. I would have never even had this opportunity had it not been for a dear friend and mentor, Miss Erin Brennan. During my 3rd year of University as I was contemplating my future she encouraged me to do the research project even though it would mean additional hours and a huge challenge. I listened to her and from her advice that day you would be hard-pressed to find me backing down from anything. Instead I rose to the challenge and it paid off immensely.
When I was researching which lab I wanted to work in, I discovered Dr. Vivian Mushahwar, a renowned Neuroscientist. Her research lab was the only one at that was part of the Cell Biology & Neuroscience departments. I knew I wanted to work in her lab and no other. I emailed her and did not get a response. Instead of getting discouraged I thought to myself she must be an incredibly busy lady and my email might have been missed. I emailed her again until I finally received a response. She agreed to meet with me and I was given the position. I spent two years working in her lab, the first as a student intern and the second year on a full salary. Had I not re-sent the email the outcome may have been completely different. The lesson I learned here was to persevere until given a definitive answer.
The Next Move
I started chiropractic school in the fall of 2010 at the University of Western States in Portland, OR. I absolutely loved the program from day one and immersed myself fully in the training. I decided to fast-track the program by completing a summer term each year to finish my Doctorate in 3 years instead of 4. School was challenging but stimulating. I was soaking up the information like a sponge and practicing my skills daily. I knew right away that I had chosen the right career and couldn’t wait to be fully certified. I graduated in September 2013 at the top of my class and started working right away. I had just completed my final internship at a clinic in Lake Oswego, OR and was hired on as an Associate Doctor. I worked there under the mentorship of Dr. Jason Bussanich, DC for three years. Dr. Jason taught me so much in addition to what we learned in school and really helped shape the Doctor I am today.
In 2016 I decided to leave the practice in Lake Oswego and move back to Canada. I had reconnected with the love of my life and wanted to be closer to him and my family. I moved to Calgary, AB in the spring and have been loving life here ever since. I joined a busy practice in the NW Hamptons community and just started at a second clinic location downtown. I will split my time between the two practices to touch the lives of as many people as possible. A lot of people are often concerned when I tell them how busy I am, but this is what I live for. It has taken me just shy of 30 years to get where I am today but I can confidently say I am exactly where I am supposed to be, doing exactly what I am supposed to do. If it wasn’t clear throughout my story I want to emphasize the importance of having mentors in your life. I have often had to overcome challenges solo and at the end of the day you really can only depend on you, but look to those who have been there before you, learn from their mistakes and grow from it. I pride myself today on being a mentor, friend, and role model to many people which is why I wanted to share my story. I hope you can take something from it to ensure your own success!