On the path towards a career in holistic health and education: An interview with SelfDesign alum Hannah (’20)

Learners who complete grade 12 with SelfDesign Learning Community have the same opportunities to further their post-secondary education and to choose careers they are drawn to as learners who graduate from British Columbia’s brick-and-mortar schools.

We caught up with former learner Hannah (Class of 2020) and talked to her about what she’s been up to since she finished her SelfDesign journey. This Q&A is part of our series about SelfDesign alumni, and has been edited for clarity and length.

SelfDesign (SD): Please tell us about yourself.

Hannah: Raised in Kelowna, British Columbia, and living in Costa Rica with my family, I’m a 19-year-old community builder, learning facilitator, and instructor of some really specific natural health workshops. I graduated from the SelfDesign Learning Community in January 2020 after spending all but one of my school years with SelfDesign with my twin brother, Ezra, and our younger brother.

I love food and books, I play Dungeons and Dragons, and I am currently enamoured with music and singing and the science and skills behind them. I’m also an LGBTQIA+ ally and advocate for change in the educational field.

SD: What have you been doing since you commenced from SelfDesign?

Hannah: I graduated in January 2020 after only one semester of my grade 12 year and spent the rest of the school year as a youth volunteer assisting with SelfDesign’s virtual Art Camp and Encounters events. In June 2020, I applied for the Emerging Leaders Program that is offered by Akimbo, a global online learning platform. I was accepted into the second cohort of this one-week intensive leadership program in August and made friends all over the world. I became a part of other communities looking to improve upon traditional education models, was on a podcast, became a learning facilitator, and started co-teaching specialized kinesiology classes with Ezra.

Last year, my mother and I started working to create a college and community for specialized kinesiology students and instructors. Specialized kinesiology is sometimes called “energetic kinesiology.” In Canada, the term “bioenergetic wellness” is often used. It differs from applied kinesiology, which is often athletics-based and can be found in some colleges in North America.

Specialized kinesiology is based on traditional Chinese medicine and uses muscle response testing to very gently notice changes in energy in the body, acknowledge the whole being, and understand where there is stress and how best to achieve your personal potential in health. The underlying premise is that your body knows how to heal itself – sometimes it just needs a little help.

SD: What are you working on these days?

Hannah: Holistic health has always been a part of my life, and as I’ve become older, I’ve grown to appreciate the amount of clarity, empowerment, and joy these tools have brought me, just by giving me knowledge and tools to improve my own well-being.

I want to share that feeling and those tools with other young people. So, in addition to creating a website and planning and building the GEMS College of Energy Medicine with my mom, I’m working with my brother and several other young specialized kinesiology practitioners (including fellow SelfDesign learner Zane) and instructors to organize the first Youth Holistic Health Summit at the end of January to offer tools and knowledge that can be easily applied by anyone to relieve stress and make learning easier.

SD: What made you choose this path?

Hannah: Ezra and I are fourth-generation instructors of Touch for Health, an entry-level foundational modality in specialized kinesiology, with many different kinds of classes that build on it. When I was younger, I didn’t want that to become my career – it was already my mother’s and grandmother’s careers. But it has always been a part of my life, and I really feel that, now more than ever, tools for relieving stress and understanding ourselves are some of the most important things we can have. I want to help others explore these possibilities.

This interest has taken me into the realm of being an instructor and all the learning involved in planning and conducting a workshop. My specific desire to be a young person supporting other young people in their health has given me the opportunity to speak at a Touch for Health conference with my brother, to be part of a family presentation at last year’s virtual conference, to make connections all over the world, to build this college and summit, and to keep taking courses and learning more.

SD: Describe your SelfDesign journey.

Hannah: We started in SelfDesign in kindergarten because my parents knew they wanted to travel. SelfDesign gave them a way to provide us with the education we needed while also affording the freedom to have our own schedule. When Ezra and I were seven years old, we travelled to Costa Rica for the first time and spent six months learning about the rainforest. We attended a year in a brick-and-mortal school after that, but found it boring after our adventures, so we returned to SelfDesign for the rest. We hadn’t planned on learning from home all the way through, but life happens, and it became the best option for us.

SelfDesign’s high school program was a rollercoaster for our graduating class. Those of us who started grade 10 in 2017 contended with a change in platform, new BC Ministry of Education requirements, a switch to thematic learning, and a huge learning curve for all the educators and learners. I found myself learning a lot about how SelfDesign and the BC Ministry of Education functioned in that time, doing my best to keep up with the trial-and-error process of creating new systems that are better than the old ones. Those challenges also gave rise to the SelfDesign Learner Council, which I am proud to have been a part of creating and running alongside a number of amazing learners.

I’m incredibly grateful specifically to my English teacher, Patricia Collins, and to SelfDesign Learning Community Vice Principal Vanessa Kuran for the amount of personal support and wisdom they provided me that has stayed with me beyond school.

SD: How has your past experience with SelfDesign helped you in your current endeavours?

Hannah: SelfDesign gave me the freedom to do things differently, to make them my own, to assess my own work, and to focus on things I love. This has allowed me to throw myself into projects like the college and the summit and trust that I will learn as I go.

SD: What one key piece of advice would you share with current or other recent SelfDesign grads about leveraging their SelfDesign experience after graduation?

Hannah: Create your own challenges, experiences, opportunities, assessments, connections, communities, projects, passions, lives, and so on. You have the knowledge and power to make these things yourself and make them what you want them to be, so use it.

SD: Is there anything else you’d like to share with the SelfDesign community?

Hannah: You can follow me @QueWhatNow on both Twitter and Instagram – feel free to reach out! You can also join Zane’s ‘ESP – Stress Free Youths’ group on Facebook for some wellness-focused community.

If you are a graduate of SelfDesign Learning Community or SelfDesign Home Learning and would like to share your story, please email us at communications@selfdesign.org. We’d love to hear from you!

Read more about SelfDesign’s unique approach to learning

Read more about grades 10 to 12 at SelfDesign

Learn how SelfDesign sets learners up for success

Read about some of our other learners’ journeys