On June 22, a group of twelve students graduated from Birthwise Midwifery School. In a small ceremony at the Bridgton UCC, faculty and staff members presented Heather Bell, Rachel Cipryk, Acadia Gantz, Emily Hites, Stephanie Johnson, Kayla Sampson, Mackenzie Stroich, Christina Thompson, Elizabeth Venman, Melissa Walsh-Chong, Mollie Whipple, and Madrona Wienges with their diplomas.
The new graduates, who hail from all over the United States and Canada, completed the academic portion of their studies in Bridgton, Maine and the practical part of their studies in places like Amish Country, Pennsylvania and Phoenix, Arizona. Now, they’ll sit for the National Association of Registered Midwives’ Exam or join the Canadian Bridging Midwifery Program before they begin work as professional midwives.
While their midwifery studies took them to many different places, many of the new graduates formed strong connections to Maine while they studied at Birthwise Midwifery School. Kenzie Stroich from British Columbia, for example, worked with midwives in Yarmouth during her studies. Similarly, Acadia Gantz from Utah spent more than a year working with Birthwise Midwifery Service in Bridgton. Now, she plans to work as a midwife in the Lakes Region.
For every one of the graduates, midwifery is a labor of love. Rachel Cipryk of Washington D.C., for example, was drawn to midwifery care because it offered a chance to “work with individuals in an intimate way, offering choice to people in their pregnancy and birth care that is not widely offered.” Since graduating from Birthwise Midwifery School, she’s opened her own midwifery practice, Rock Creek Midwifery, in Washington D.C.
For some graduates, their midwifery education criss-crossed with their own personal journeys. Elizabeth Venman of Massachusetts, for example, became aware of a deep need to approach health holistically after making many visits to the hospital due to a childhood disease. As a student midwife, she worked with midwives in birth centers, home birth practices, and community clinics. These varied experiences helped her explore alternative medical settings.
Other graduates had a strong proximity to midwifery long before they began their studies. Kayla Sampson of Maine, for example, had known that she wanted to be a midwife since she was three years old. Stephanie Johnson of Boston recently discovered that her grandmother had been a midwife in the South, which confirms that midwifery was in her blood all along.
At graduation, some graduates spoke about the many ways Birthwise Midwifery School shaped their midwifery education. Heather Bell of Maryland, for example, worked with five different midwives in the Pacific Northwest while she was a student midwife. She found that working with many midwives was highly beneficial to her education, since it gave her the opportunity to observe how different midwives handle the challenges of labor and birth.