Hannah Freeman ’15
One thing that we hear from USM students and alumni, time and again, is that the school gave them unique leeway to follow their passions and to carve their own paths. In the case of Hannah Freeman ’15, the University happened to open up the perfect path while she was there. While attending as a Biology major, she became interested in holistic medicine just as USM was starting to offer courses in it, and became one of the first students to take advantage of Holistic and Integrative Health minor.
“It was one of my favorite aspects of USM,” she reflects now, “and it really is a unique offering. I am so thankful for Corinne Martin, who taught the majority of the holistic health classes when I was there. I recall the classes being made up of a diverse group of majors, including Nursing, Biology, Health Sciences, and more. These classes offered a welcomed break from the challenging science courses since most of our class time was spent discussing various aspects of health and wellness. It was in these classes where naturopathic medicine was mentioned in passing and I started doing a little research on it. The following semester I enrolled in the first Intro to Naturopathic Medicine course at USM with Dr. Sarah Paton!”
After USM, she went to the National University of Natural Medicine in Portland, Oregon, where she received a doctorate degree in Naturopathic Medicine in 2020. Shortly after getting the degree, she gave in to her homesickness and moved back to Portland, Maine, in January 2021. It was a homecoming not just to the state in which she was raised, but also to USM—shortly after returning she opened her practice, Cove Natural Medicine, just up the street from the Portland campus.
“Although I didn’t take any business classes while at USM,” she said, “I can absolutely recall ways that USM helped prepare me for business. During those four years, I really felt like I was a part of a strong community; not just a university community, but the Greater Portland community as well. When it came time to prepare for business ownership, I trusted that everything would work out partly because of this sense of community. I had also stayed in touch throughout graduate school with one of my USM professors who had a private practice and offered guidance once I returned to Maine.”
She knew early on that she wanted to work for herself. This is partly because most wellness providers in the area are solo practitioners, but she also wanted the freedom and flexibility that comes with a private practice. She knew it would not be an easy path, and it was made much more difficult by the pandemic.
“The biggest challenge I anticipated was the time it takes to develop a practice, especially one without insurance billing,” she told us. “The timing of this opening just happened to coincide with COVID. This complicated some of the smaller things like office availability, preferences towards telehealth, networking groups, and so on. For example, the plans I had for joining networking groups and meeting other providers became much more challenging because of the shift to online. Now, having been in business for two years, my growth feels consistent with what I initially projected and those smaller challenges started to work themselves out.”
Some of the in-person sense of community that was put on hold during the height of the pandemic was offset by her proximity to her alma mater. “I love the USM Portland campus,” she said. “It was here where I really developed my own sense of self while studying at USM. Now, I am really happy to have my office right down the road. I work with a lot of young people, so I see quite a few USM students in my practice. I am very thankful for what USM offered me during my time as a student, and I really want to give back to the university in any way that I can. Right now, that means getting involved as an alum, but I hope that in the future it could also mean teaching or having job opportunities for students.”
On Thursday, Feb. 16, Hannah will be participating in the 2023 Women in Leadership event on USM’s Portland campus.