NWHSU Alumni Up North

NWHSU alumni are making a difference across the nation and around the world. Last issue, we highlighted alumni working in different corners of the globe. This time, the snow and cold temps here in Bloomington inspired us to look up.  

There is something special about living and working in the great north: spanning Northern Minnesota and Wisconsin, North Dakota, Canada, and even Alaska. For the most part, the towns are smaller. Maybe the communities are tighter knit. In some areas, access to healthcare is limited, and our graduates are making a difference just by offering care in their towns.  

Of course, it’s not a monolith, and what’s fun about these stories is how different they are, representing the diversity of a region that is often overlooked on the national stage. The common thread that unites them all? A commitment to providing patient-centered care to their communities. 

Kotzebue, AK

Lew Pagel, DC ‘04 

What kind of care does Lew Pagel, DC ‘04 provide at his practice in Kotzebue, Alaska? Well, it depends on the season.

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Selkirk, MB

Carolyn Weiss, DC 

Dr. Weiss runs a semi-rural, multidisciplinary practice in Selkirk, MB, about 30 minutes north of Winnipeg. She works with a naturopathic doctor, podiatrist, three massage therapists and Athletic therapist. “Our goal is to get patients better and to send them back out into the world with the tools to keep them out of the office,” she explained. The best part about a rural practice for Dr. Weiss? “I know my community and my community knows me. I can be involved in the local charities, sports teams, and events. I have great relationships with medical and health care providers.”

Duluth, MN

Kara McGillivray, DC, CCST ‘94, Greg McGillivray, DC, CCST ‘95, and Jason Bramstedt, DC ‘99 

When Lake Superior Community Health Center (LSCHC)—a Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC) serving the Twin Ports area—received a grant from the state of Wisconsin for chronic pain management, they reached out to Kara McGillivray, DC, CCST ‘94.   

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Emily Hysjulien, LAc ‘07 

Emily Hysjulien works on an Integrative Health team within Essentia Health. After 12 years in private practice, she appreciates that working in a health system allows her to focus on patient care. Her office and treatment rooms are in the Oncology Department, a patient population close to her heart: when she was finishing up school, she visited her aunt who was receiving oncology care at Essentia. It was then that she knew she wanted to move to Duluth. “I love being in a field where I work with my hands, heart, and mind, and develop a strong alliance with my patients,” she shared.  

PBPH Alums Morgan Johnson, Miki Mir, and Zahra Mohamed Sharif 

Students who complete NWHSU’s Post-Bacc Pre-Health program attend med school and other health programs all over the country—including in Duluth! Right now, Morgan Johnson and Miki Mir are in medical school at University of Minnesota, Duluth and Zahra Mohamed Sharif is in PA school at St. Scholastica. 

Two Harbors, MN

Lanna Schwab, LAc ‘16 

Lanna Schwab, LAc ‘16 does not have four generations of family history in Two Harbors, Minnesota. In fact, when she moved there to work as an x-ray tech in the hospital, she didn’t know anyone. Now, she runs Agate Acupuncture out of that same hospital, and has built a strong client-base through community connections and word of mouth.

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Bemidji, MN

Polly Merhar ‘21 

It’s never too late to start a new career. At least that’s how Polly Merhar, CNMT, BCTMB ‘21— a graduate of the massage therapy program—feels.   

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Minot, ND

Shelby Sortino, DC, LAc ‘18  

Dr. Sortino opened New Dawn Chiropractic and Acupuncture in her hometown of Minot, where she’s the first Licensed acupuncturist to practice. For her, patients become like family. “I love working in a small town. I love going to community events and knowing a lot of people at them. Everyone in the community is really good at supporting each other and supporting small businesses.” 

Fargo, ND

Lexi Matthews,  LAc ‘16 

Lexi Mathews runs FM Acupuncture in Fargo, ND. In Fargo, “most people in the healing world know each other. We have two hospitals that are now including holistic options as well,” she explained. “I’d say the community, as a whole, is starting to look at alternative, preventative methods to get and stay healthy.” Lexi’s favorite part of working as an acupuncturist is providing relief and answers to patients who have tried everything. “Being able to provide a treatment that allows for patients to heal and live their lives to the fullest is the best job I could ever ask for.” 

Thunder Bay, ON

Amanda Johnson, DC ‘17 and Lucas Migliazza, DC ‘17 

There’s nothing like a shared background in kinesiology to bring a couple together. Maybe that’s not a classic story anywhere else, but at NWHSU it makes sense, and it’s exactly what happened with Amanda Johnson, DC ‘17 and Lucas Migliazza, DC ‘17.  

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