Category Archives: From the Chief Content Editor

Editorial – March 2014

Strengthening the Profession
Carla Gibson, Chief Content Editor

Life University recently announced a new tuition benefit for married couples in the DC program. Student Council President Anthony Umina suggested the discount as a way to “strengthen the profession” and to compete with a similar discount offered by Sherman College of Chiropractic.

I applaud the administration for being sensitive to the debt load incurred by students in the Doctor of Chiropractic program and I am supportive of those couples who both choose to pursue careers in chiropractic, however, I will be blunt. The new tuition benefit for married couples in the program offends me. How is my contribution to the profession, as an older single student who maintains a second household and “commutes” from another state to attend Life, any less valuable to the profession? How is the debt of the single parent in the program any less crushing? How is the student whose spouse is at home with young children better financially positioned to begin practice and less deserving of a tuition discount? How is the average student with no family commitments, who dedicates all of their additional time and (borrowed) money to pursuing the “parallel curriculum” rewarded for their part in strengthening the profession? Why am I being forced to subsidize the tuition of a married couple while my children forgo vacations and extracurricular activities so I can complete this program?

While it may be a fact the married couple is starting out in practice with a higher total debt, there are several built in financial benefits to the couple while in school and when starting a practice. A couple can share housing and transportation costs and can reduce their grocery bill through shared meals, effectively cutting their living expenses in half compared to a single student. In practice, the fixed overhead of a stand-alone practice is shared by two doctors who can work together to see twice as many patients as the single practitioner.

A fellow student asked me if I was offended by the discount offered for purchasing a dozen donuts vs. purchasing one. No, because providing the highest quality donut at the lowest price is dependent on selling volume and reducing waste (and I don’t eat donuts.) There are very few economies of scale in selling a chiropractic education in volume. Life must provide the same benefits to each student whether those students are married or not. There are no financial advantages to having married couples in the program from the University’s standpoint. The education received, the hours of instruction consumed, is no less for the married couple than for the single student. The only economy may be in parking, though carpooling to campus is not an eligibility requirement of the new discount. The carpooling scholarship would be very popular and would provide a benefit to all students and to the environment.

How is the University able to afford to basically give married students one free class every quarter? How is it going to strengthen the profession if the burden of covering the expenses of paying quality instructors and maintaining state of the art facilities falls more heavily on a smaller number of students, ultimately forcing the administration to again raise the tuition rate? When I started the DC program in the Fall of 2011, the per hour course rate was $292. Today it is $307. While $15 per credit hour doesn’t seem like much, at an average of 24 credits per quarter, that is $360. That is one less seminar or one less plane ticket to visit my children and I can’t even bear to calculate the additional interest I am paying on that extra $360 now interest is accruing on all student loans from the date of disbursement. Over 14 quarters, this is just $5,000, but according to what I learned from Dr. Davis in business class that could represent one-third to one-half of my startup costs. What if Life were to encourage every student to complete the program successfully by offering them a $5000 startup grant upon graduation with the option of borrowing an additional $10,000 directly from the University at a very competitive interest rate with borrowing qualifications more generous than the banks? Wouldn’t that be a vote of confidence for the curriculum being provided? And wouldn’t it be a great way to replace the investments divested when Life decided it would no longer support companies incongruent with Vitalism? How competitive could Life be among chiropractic colleges if it could boast being the only school committed to financially supporting each graduate’s practice success?

The tuition increases were regularly defended by the administration as being necessary to keep up with inflation. If the University can afford to give a $2000 per quarter discount to married couples, why do I need to pay the extra $360 each quarter? Why couldn’t the tuition rate have remained at the same lower rate for all students? Wouldn’t decreasing the debt burden for ALL chiropractors be a factor in strengthening the chiropractic profession?

Why is Life threatened by the competition from other chiropractic colleges, especially Sherman? Does our reputation, curriculum, faculty and campus culture not speak for itself? The reason cited by most students choosing Sherman over Life is class size. Assuming about 1% of the DC student body will qualify for this new program, it’s unlikely the money could have been spent to hire additional teachers, but the administration should consider addressing this top concern before increasing the number of DC students in an already crowded program through and incentive to attract more students.

Some students cite the lower cost of attendance at Sherman, but this is largely due to the lower cost of living in Spartanburg, SC and the lack of fees charged on top of tuition. At Life, the quarterly student fee is $249. With nearly 2000 students in the DC program, nearly $500,000 is collected in student fees each quarter. Obviously Life has a beautiful campus and amenities not found at other institutions. But again, if a discount can be afforded to students just for being married, certainly Life can afford other discounts that would serve to strengthen the profession.

One huge advantage to Life is the size and diversity of the student body and the clubs and organizations on campus. These opportunities are made possible by passionate students who donate countless hours and funds to maintain these clubs and organizations each quarter. By attending seminars to be up to date with the technique or philosophy they are presenting, holding club meetings on a regular basis (which can equate to 2-3 hours per week), and being available to attend Student Council and Leadership meetings required to maintain their club’s active status on campus, a student can easily spend thousands of dollars and hundreds of hours during their career as a DC student for the benefit of not only themselves, but to making Life more appealing to prospective students by providing this diversity. Of the student fees collected each quarter, $3000 (less than 1%) is “allocated” and student clubs and organizations can apply for help with funding their events, supplies and education opportunities. Again, assuming just 1% of the DC student body (about 20 students) qualify for the new marriage tuition benefit, about $20,000 (about 4% of student fees) will go toward funding that benefit for a handful of students while nearly 1000 students participate in clubs and organizations. Wouldn’t a scholarship supporting these dedicated student leaders go a long way to strengthening the profession and ensuring the quality of one of Life’s largest competitive advantages?

Ultimately, the existence of the marriage tuition benefit will just become part of the Life landscape and students entering Life will accept it as “the way things are.” However, I hope the administration will consider expanding their vision to include other, more effective ways, Life can contribute to “strengthening the profession.”
Please go to the Vital Source Blog at and comment on your opinion of the discount and other ways Life could support students and strengthen the chiropractic profession.




The new tuition benefit for married couples in the program offends me

Wouldn’t decreasing the debt burden for ALL chiropractors be a factor in strengthening the chiropractic profession?

nearly $500,000 is collected in student fees each quarter


A Letter from the Editor

A Letter from the Editor
Ron Sweeney, Chief Content Editor

Writing. Carl Sagan called it the only true form of magic, connecting people and ideas not only across the world, but also across the vast expanses of time. Writing allows us the opportunity to share our thoughts and ideas, expressing ourselves more formally than speech might otherwise allow. The written word—ideally—is the result of careful thought and reflection, the product of revisionary drafts, and many times, collaborative input. Committing ideas to paper allows us to elevate our semantic and syntactic ramblings to the levels of poetry and prose. It has been my privilege to serve as contributor, staff writer, and chief content editor for the Vital Source over the past two and a half years.

As my time with the Vital Source has been lengthy, but by no means substantial, my time at LIFE has definitely been great, in both quality and duration. I started the DC program in the spring quarter of 2008. I have had more than my share of trials and tribulations at this institution, and can definitely empathize with anyone struggling through this challenging program. I have seen faculty come and go, celebrated births and mourned deaths, and said farewell and congratulations to several hundred friends as they proudly crossed the stage and accepted the title and responsibilities of a doctor of chiropractic. I watched as parking lots were slowly replaced by our illustrious LIFE’s Village Retreat, the Standard Process Amphitheater, and lush green spaces. I’ve seen the old bingo hall and adjacent bookstore and faculty offices be transformed into a beautiful and state-of-the-art dining hall, nutrition department, and even better bookstore. I predate the clicker and electronic health record (EHR) documentation, thankfully. Life University is ever-changing, which is apropos, considering that once you graduate, change is the only thing you can count on in life.

This issue seems to be a farewell issue in many aspects. This quarter, we bid a fond farewell to Drs. Kirk, Forese, and Franz. This will also be my last issue with the Vital Source, as I move on to PEAK in January, working with Centro Quiropráctico Schübel in Lima, Peru, and graduating at the end of the spring quarter. I know that the Vital Source will continue to grow and develop in its mission to serve as the students’ voice of vitalism, and I strongly encourage everyone to keep writing. Share your ideas and insights, comments and criticisms, and let your voice be heard across campus and around the world. The Vital Source readership is not limited to just the students at Life University—faculty, staff, and administration regularly enjoy our content, as do countless alumni, friends, and family. Writing helps you to focus your thoughts and builds your communication skill set. So sharpen your pencils and sharpen your wits!

All the best,

Ron Sweeney
Chief Content Editor,
Vital Source newspaper

A Letter from the Editor

A Letter from the Editor
Anyone Can Write
Ron Sweeney, DC Student

Noted astronomer and astrophysicist Carl Sagan once said, “What an astonishing thing a book is. It’s a flat object made from a tree with flexible parts on which are imprinted lots of funny dark squiggles. But one glance at it and you’re inside the mind of another person, maybe somebody dead for thousands of years. Across the millennia, an author is speaking clearly and silently inside your head, directly to you. Writing is perhaps the greatest of human inventions, binding together people who never knew each other, citizens of distant epochs. Books break the shackles of time. A book is proof that humans are capable of working magic.” For some reason, the notion that we are all capable of magic really spoke to me.

As the editor of the Vital Source, I have the privilege of reading and finessing all the submissions you see printed. I say privilege rather than chore because each writer has chosen to share with me his or her own personal magic. Granted, these may not be books, but the fact remains that writing—any writing—is a form of magic, allowing us to hear the thoughts of another, see through their eyes, and re-live moments for which we were not personally present. I understand that the majority of the material in these pages is the work of students, writing for one of the best reasons anyone can do anything—the sheer sense of satisfaction and enjoyment that comes from sharing something dear to you with another. I am well aware that we are not formally trained journalists or authors, but I don’t want anyone to feel deterred from sharing their points of view.

The Vital Source exists to be the voice of Life University, on all levels. Because of this, we are proud to accept anything you would like to share with the student body, including, but by no means limited to: first-hand accounts of on- or off-campus events, information on upcoming events or functions, restaurant reviews, recipes, short stories or essays, and updates on professional research. Because the majority of our student body is comprised of students in the chiropractic program, often times our material follows related subject matter, which may give the appearance that the Vital Source is only the voice of chiropractic students. That is not our intention; however, we can only publish what our limited staff covers or what you send us, so please share your message and creativity with the world. I’ll worry about semicolons and commas, who vs. whom, and subtler things, like i.e. vs. e.g. We just need you to take that first step. For more information on article formatting or to submit your work, please contact

Live Life to Your Fullest – Alexandra Gerdel, Chief Content Editor

From the Chief Content Editor

When we’re in school, it’s easy to get bogged down in the everyday routine of tests and studying for class. Graduation and the real world can seem so far, and any dreams we have outside of being students exist in the future as a “someday” ideal that we can’t have right now due to our circumstances of still being in school. I’ve learned something pretty cool during my time at LIFE: your circumstances don’t matter. We don’t have to wait until we graduate to be the person we’ve always dreamed of being.

Last August, I created a vision for myself that was far bigger than just graduating from school and opening my practice. I saw myself as an international leader in chiropractic, working to transform the profession in its second century. I never envisioned taking on this role I saw for myself until after I had graduated and maybe even been in practice for ten years. I was blinded by the hoops still left to jump through in school and still being tied to government funded living expense checks.

About three months ago, something in my thinking shifted. I’ve suddenly found myself in the role I only dared to dream of back in August. The reason? I got bold, started speaking and writing my ideas beyond the realm of just our LIFE campus. The result, I realized while I was at New Beginnings earlier this month, was that other leaders in our profession actually knew who I was. It was while I was at New Beginnings I realized I have actually made an impression on those out to save chiropractic and save the world, and become the leader I dreamed of becoming.

My goal here is not to brag or make myself look cool, it’s to leave you all with this message and hopefully with the inspiration to really take on your life and be who you are. So many of us live life without fully expressing ourselves because we get bogged down in everything surrounding us and allow that to define us. You are not your finances, your divorced parents, your final exam schedule etc. Who you are is who you choose to be in the face of all the obstacles and life imperfections we each face on a daily basis.

If you have not done so, take a moment to consider your life and your actions. Who are you? How do you act and behave? In each moment, who do you choose to be? Who would you like to be? The theory of the power of positive thinking runs rampant within the chiropractic profession and on this campus. While I fully believe in maintaining positive thoughts and attitudes in order to get what you want, I also believe it requires action. I became a leader because I stopped acting like a scared student, swallowed by the pressure of school and exams and with nothing to offer the world. I started taking actions consistent with a leader. I met people. I shared my ideas and writing with people. I was bold and courageous.

So I ask you, who do you want to be? What’s holding you back? Don’t wait for tomorrow to get here. The future is right now. You are capable of being whoever you wish to be in this moment. Dream big. Reach for the stars. The only thing in your way is you deciding who you want to be.

The Art Of Communication – Alexandra Gerdel, Chief Content Editor

Communication is one of those fundamental keys necessary for success in any aspect of life. Whether it’s a relationship with a significant other, a family member, a business partner, a patient or your best friend, communication is the glue that either makes or breaks the success of that relationship. Recently, I’ve been looking a lot at how I communicate, and I decided to share some of my thoughts in this issue of Vital Source.

My inquiry into how I communicate began after the release of the last issue of Vital Source. After the release of my War on Funnel Cakes article, I realized that despite my intention to not attack anyone for liking funnel cakes, the title of my article alone could have created a hostile emotion in anyone who loves funnel cakes. And although I did clarify I didn’t have any issue with someone liking funnel cakes—my issue was with the integrity of a school committed to health and wellness selling funnel cakes—I failed to make that point early enough in my article to encourage those who disagreed with me to keep reading. As a result, I was booed one day walking into class, and several of my friends commented they didn’t want to eat around me at lunch because they were worried I was judging them for what they were eating.

One of my friends raised a valid point – you can’t suddenly take away something like funnel cakes from an annual event without upsetting a lot of people. I certainly  agree that changing someone’s perspective on their health and inspiring them to take control of their overall wellness is a difficult and delicate task. While I stick to my argument that this institution should not be serving funnel cakes or allowing fast food and unhealthy vending machines on this campus as a matter of integrity, I do agree that the change needs to be made in a way that inspires those in our community to take control of their health.

These events made me really think about what my intentions are when I’m speaking with someone, writing, or sharing a point of view. For those of us in the chiropractic program, we tend to have a different way of thinking than the general public has, when it comes to getting adjusted, what to eat, how to exercise and the definition of health and wellness. In communicating our ideas, I’ve realized that it can be easy to come across in a negative way to someone, especially when my passion and excitement lead the charge and effectively prevent me from really listening to the person with whom I am communicating. Whether I mean to or not, I’ve realized that I can easily appear to others as judgmental and as making them wrong for not knowing what I know and/or not being on my level when it comes to the meaning of health and wellness.

I don’t think any of us wish to educate and motivate our friends, family and patients to take control of their health by means of brute force, making them feel guilty or scaring them into submission to change their ways. This approach, along with our passion and our drive to change the world, can certainly come across as overwhelming if we don’t communicate effectively. I’ve realized my intention is always to inspire those around me, but I haven’t always communicated in a way that produces that effect in others. I have become very aware of how to choose my language and what I say in order for inspiration to be the end result. My focus is no longer just to get a point across, it’s to truly relate to the person or audience with whom I’m speaking. The difference has been huge, and inspiring.

I invite you to look at your own life. How do you communicate with people? What are your goals when you talk with someone? What kind of impression do you want to leave? When you’ve decided what your goals are for the person with whom you’re speaking, join me in starting to communicate with them in mind instead of yourself and your own agenda. Send feedback to Vital Source at and let us know how things change for you!

From the Chief Content Editor – Alexandra Gerdel, Chief Content Editor

The Untimely demise of my anti-television life

I believe everyone has at one point in their life gotten so lost in the fantasy world of a movie, book or TV series that their own lives become boring and empty by comparison. They spend all of their time lost in deep thought and daydreams, counting the hours, minutes, seconds before they can watch more and daydream more about the world about which they fantasize constantly. It has been a very long time since something has literally transported me from my own reality to the fantasyland of another world, thereby rendering showering, eating and socializing completely unnecessary and, to be honest, somewhat of a nuisance. Fortunately, being in the Doctor of Chiropractic program has kept me too busy to find a great book or TV show to lose myself in. That was, until this past break.

On my return flight from Vermont to Atlanta, my two and a half year stint of not having a TV show addiction was sadly ended by the evil conniving of the Delta Airlines in flight entertainment planner.  Although I fought the urge and really tried not to look at the mini TV screen positioned perfectly for my viewing pleasure, it only took about two minutes before I found myself not only watching, but completely enamored with a random episode from somewhere in the middle of the first season of Glee.

As soon as my plane touched down in Atlanta, I rushed home ecstatic to watch as many episodes of Glee as I could find, only to have my hopes crushed by Hulu and their 90 second preview teasers to encourage a subscription to Hulu Plus.  Defeated, I went to bed devising a plan to somehow watch all the Glee I could handle (for free) before another quarter started. Thanks to Netflix and a whole lot of snow and ice, this plan came to fruition, and before I knew it I was even more addicted to Glee than I could have ever imagined. Yes, I am almost embarrassed to admit that as a 26 year old soon to be doctor of chiropractic, I stayed up till the wee hours of the morning night after night, watching episode upon episode of 20-something actors pretending to be singing and dancing teenage misfits. Misfits trying to find themselves in the scary, unfriendly world of high school while sticking to the social code that separates jocks and music geeks.

It’s really difficult to say what has me so hooked on Glee. It could be the ridiculous storylines of each and every episode. The writing somehow manages to satirize the black hole of high school stereotypes while simultaneously making the viewer care about the characters. Or it could be Sue Sylvester’s (Jane Lynch) endless one-liners about Will Schuster’s (Matthew Morrison) hair. For example: “I don’t trust a man with curly hair. I can’t help but picturing birds laying sulfurous eggs in there, and I find it disgusting.” But I think the part of Glee that really stole my reality for approximately one full week and all Tuesday evenings until Season Two is complete, is that it reminds me of how much I am a real life Gleek.

If you look around our campus, you could say that everyone here is a Gleek. I don’t mean in the sense that we all secretly want to burst into song and bust a move, but more in the sense that Life University is different from other universities. For those in the chiropractic program we stand in the face of adversity. Our friends and family don’t necessarily understand why we’re becoming chiropractors, the world might not consider us “real” doctors. Despite the battles that have already been won, we still have to fight like hell to earn the respect of those outside our chiropractic bubble. Glee represents the same concept, a group of people being true to who they are and what they believe, no matter what others think, say or do. Understanding this, and why we are here doing what we do, is key to our future and success as individuals and as a profession.

I am a Gleek and I am proud of it. Embrace the Gleek in you, and if you feel like it, join me on Tuesdays at 8 PM for an hour-long escape to fantasyland!

A Grateful Gimp Gives Thanks – Alexandra Gerdel, Chief Content Editor

from the chief content editor

This issue of Vital Source will be hitting the stands after Thanksgiving. However, the spirit of the Holidays endures through the New Year. I feel it is therefore not too late for me to take a little time to say thanks.

Earlier this quarter, I spent four long days hobbling around campus on crutches, followed by limping around campus even slower than I hobbled for another several days. As those unfortunate enough to have experienced Life University’s campus on crutches know, this is no easy feat. Suddenly getting from the CCE building to the CC-HOP becomes a more daunting task than running a marathon. Getting up “cardiac hill” is akin to climbing Mount Everest without oxygen. Crossing campus to get to Assembly is like pushing a stalled pickup truck uphill indefinitely.

While my daily triceps workout repeatedly pointed out how much I take things like being able to drive, push a shopping cart or kill a cockroach for granted, what I noticed even more were the offers of help and assistance I received from people both on campus and off. I have never had more doors held open for me, more friends and strangers offer to carry me up stairs or give me piggy back rides, more professors go out of their way to make sure I was comfortable, more people offer to get me an electric shopping cart in Harry’s, or more people ask me how I was.

While I don’t know the names of many of those who offered me smiles and assistance, I wanted to take a moment to say “thank you” for brightening my days of “gimpy-ness.” During the time I spent as a gimp, the essence of our school motto, “To Give, To Do, To Love, To Serve” showed itself more clearly to me than I’d ever seen before in my two and half years here Our campus is composed of a unique set of individuals who, despite our diverse backgrounds, have formed a tight knit family. I just wanted to take a moment to say thank you to my Life family, and to remind you all to take a moment to love and appreciate each other as we head into our final weeks of the quarter, and our final weeks of 2010.

For those of you who went out of your way for me, and who do the same for others around you everyday, know your kindness did not and does not go unnoticed. I only hope to give the same kind of love and service to others in need in the future.