Future of Wellness: Riding a smooth wave to a rewarding natural health career

Written by Endeavour College of Natural Health | 15 April, 2021

International student Emma van Leenen worked in kitchens for years and even ran her own small catering business in the Netherlands. But she also dreamt of learning to surf. That dream led her across the oceans to Australia and natural health study.

“My first surfing trip was to Portugal when I had to take leave from full-time work,” Emma said. “After that, I was always looking for ways to surf again. About eight years ago, I travelled to Australia to spend a month surfing here. I loved it and wanted to stay, but I decided to study first.”

Back at home, Emma dabbled in fashion and food design studies. She switched to a business degree, and always worked in the food industry alongside her studies. “My goal was to become a pastry chef. Then I discovered I was allergic to cow’s milk, which meant the prestigious school in London wouldn’t accept my application. I had saved up the money to go, and suddenly I had to re-think my career. Australia was calling me,” she said.

For the last five years, Emma has lived in Australia. After travelling and surfing, where she could, on a working holiday visa, she’s now in surf-friendly northern New South Wales. She studies Nutrition at Endeavour’s campus on the Gold Coast.

“I’ve always been passionate about food and how it can influence your health. In the Netherlands, there are no holistic places where you can study for a health degree. With Endeavour, I found a way to study that suits me and helps me to stay in Australia,” Emma said. “Getting your student visa is stressful, but enrolling with Endeavour was easy!”

“It is a big financial commitment to be an international student. It’s tough to study, work part-time and be far away from family and friends, but it is worth it. I’m learning subjects that I never thought I would, meeting people passionate about the same things and understanding the ‘why’ behind some of the things I’ve done in the kitchen for years.”

In her final year of study, Emma is about to put what she’s learnt into practice in the student clinic. “I’m looking forward to it because I’m not certain yet if I will work with clients or use my skills in recipe development,” Emma said. “I love food and hospitality, so I’m also thinking about opening a healthy food deli with fresh products made from locally-sourced ingredients or taking my skills on the road when we can travel again. Whatever comes next, I know it will be rewarding.


Endeavour College of Natural Health

Endeavour College of Natural Health is Australia's largest Higher Education provider of natural medicine courses.

The College is known as the centre of excellence for natural medicine and is respected for its internationally recognised academic teams and high calibre graduates. Endeavour offers Bachelor of Health Science degrees in Naturopathy, Nutritional and Dietetic Medicine, and Acupuncture, a fully online Bachelor of Complementary Medicine, Undergraduate Certificates, a Diploma of Health Science and massage courses.

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