Cohort 3 Graduation Speech by Jess Long

Welcome everyone and thank you for coming to celebrate with us on this beautiful summer morning. As many of you know, we are Cohort 3 — the third class in POCA Tech history to graduate and move forward to expand this radical movement that our school is founded on, by reaching more people that need acupuncture than ever before. For many of us, following this dream meant leaving our home states, our families and friends, and stepping into the unknown, honestly not completely knowing the ride we were in for. Yet quickly realizing that as a collective we were up for the challenge and willing to put in the work, together.

Over the last 3 years it has been my greatest privilege to sit in a classroom alongside some of the most kind, quality, silly, impassioned and genuinely supportive people I have ever known. 30 extended weekends spent learning, laughing, sharing snacks and stories as well as pestering our rockstar teachers about the many unanswerable questions regarding acupuncture and Chinese medicine.

Today I feel confident speaking on behalf of my class to say — this experience has changed all of us. It has stretched our minds and hearts in ways that will make the next chapter of our lives more impactful and meaningful than we could have ever imagined. This wasn't an academic experience. This was a school built from the blood, sweat and tears of incredibly determined, inspiring people who saw problems and wanted to create solutions. Who recognized acupuncture as a way to elicit change and promote healing within communities that are often disregarded and forgotten. And who knew in order to do that, they would need more acupuncturists, lovingly known as punks, who shared the same values and commitment to community acupuncture. The gratitude our cohort has for the pioneers of this program, the staff that make up POCA Tech, the amazing faculty both near and far, the punks that allowed us to shadow them, the patients that trusted us to give them treatments, our supervisors that spent hours of their lives mentoring us, our partners, family and friends that lifted us up throughout this journey and of course the endless determination and fearlessness of Skip and Lisa. We love you and we thank you. We wouldn't be here without your heart and direction, your encouragement and confidence in us.

In our second year of school, our cohort skillfully drafted a mission statement that reflects what we are about and paved the way for the rest of our time at POCA Tech. It reads, “Since the dawn of time, we were preparing for the moment when we would become Cohort 3 and eventually Punks. We still have a long way to go. In order to reach the great goal of Punking we shall persist in holding ourselves to the highest of standards. Our standards are laid out below:

To hold each other accountable.

To identify and break down barriers to universal liberation.

To practice dedication to the serious commitment to our schooling, to POCA, and to each other.

To have fun while kicking (butt).

To respect and honor our unique contributions.

To foster a supportive and interdependent learning environment.

To clearly express our needs.


To expand our understanding and practice of inclusivity, healing, community, safety, and sharing.”

Well friends, I would say that the long way to go is up. We made it. Congratulations!

Author: lisafer

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  1. Whoohoo! Congratulations, punks!!
    Great work and dedication! thanks for putting yourselves into the mix. Welcome to the “out here” part of the journey. Wind beneath your wings, dirt on your knees, and all that cliche love stuff. 🙂

  2. Cohort 3 graduates already?
    Wow! How time flies!
    It seems like only yesterday I was watching the weekly progress of a building being erected inside our clinic The symbolic building blocks of Lego representing the funds that were being raised to donate to the building of POCA Tech!
    Congratulations to all!