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American College of Healthcare Sciences Celebrates 40 Years of Excellence in Holistic Health Education

American College of Healthcare Sciences Celebrates 40 Years of Excellence in Holistic Health Education.  

The staff, faculty, and students of American College of Healthcare Sciences (ACHS) are celebrating four decades of excellence in holistic health distance education this year with a student graduation ceremony, wellness-focused projects, activities, and events on the theme of “Building on Traditions.”

ACHS was founded in Auckland, New Zealand by Dorene Petersen in 1978. Before its founding, Petersen was finishing up a four year naturopathic program with South Pacific College of Natural Therapeutics (SPCNT) and raising two young daughters solo.  She was selected to run SPCNT’s distance learning program, and when the college proposed shutting down the program in 1978, Petersen had other plans. She proposed a teach-out program for the current students, and with the blessing of SPCNT, founded the Australasian College of Herbal Studies.

“As a newly graduated New Zealand trained  naturopath I founded the college with a passionate belief in the power of distance, experiential, wellness education reaching people from diverse locations and all walks of life long before the internet. Armed with a second-hand IBM typewriter, a fold-up table, and two cardboard boxes for student files  , organic botanicals and essential oils for lab kits, I was initially a one-woman office,” Petersen recalls.

“Once students  were empowered to take control of their health naturally without uprooting their family to get to school, the college continued to grow. My passion is truly helping people learn how to heal themselves and to witness the profound freedom and  oftentimes career success that brings,” says ACHS Founding President Dorene Petersen.

“Our slogan  is live well, learn well, educate others for a reason. When we care for each other and share our collective knowledge—building on traditions!—we can accomplish anything and the last 40 years as ACHS’s President has shown this to be true.”

While running a busy naturopathic clinic and raising two young daughters on a remote island in New Zealand with limited resources, Petersen practiced what she preached through  wildcrafting, organic gardening, and modeling a sustainable lifestyle for her two daughters. Both of Petersen’s daughters grew up learning how to run photocopy machines, perform bulk mailings, file color coded student files, bottle organic essential oils and herbs for the lab kits, and travel to various locations as workshop support personnel. 

After 40 years, the American College of Healthcare Sciences has grown from Petersen’s one-room, one-woman school with her IBM typewriter to 28 accredited online programs in holistic health and  staff of over 75. With two campus locations one in Portland, Oregon, and another in Kona, Hawaii ACHS maintains a 99% student satisfaction rate and has  been named to the top 10 of Oregon Business magazine’s 100  Best Green Workplaces three years in a row (ranking number two in 2017).

ACHS will see even more growth  in the future. After 40 years of leading the college, Petersen is proud to be passing leadership to  new President Erika  Yigzaw.

For questions about this press release, contact Judy Starr at [email protected] For questions about ACHS’s programs, articulation agreements, or transfer of credit, call (800) 487-8839 or email [email protected]

Upcoming 40th anniversary celebration event on November 4 – 9, 2018 – Kona Aromatherapy Bootcamp: Current Issues in Aromatherapy: ACHS invites students, graduates, and the public to join presenters ACHS Founding President Dorene Petersen and ACHS’s Aromatherapy Program Chair and Registered Aromatherapist, Amanda Lattin for this four-day, five-night comprehensive aromatherapy workshop designed for professional aromatherapists, aromatherapy students, and aromatherapy enthusiasts!

About American College of Healthcare Sciences

Founded in 1978, is a Portland, Oregon based, accredited college offering online, on-campus, and study abroad integrative health education. With undergraduate and graduate degrees, diplomas, certificates, and continuing education units in integrative health, ACHS makes holistic health and wellness education accessible to a diverse community, including healthcare professionals, military students, stay-at-home parents, and lifelong learners. Specializations include aromatherapy, herbal medicine, holistic nutrition, and wellness.  

ACHS is a Certified B Corporation® and was named two of 100 Best Green Workplaces in Oregon 2017 by Oregon Business magazine. ACHS is also accredited by the Distance Education Accrediting Commission (DEAC), which is recognized by the U.S. Department of Education and by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA). Visit

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