Leadership Blog Series – Sponsors… do we really need them?

Welcome to our leadership blog series! This month,  Khaleed Alston -the Vice-President of Development, NMSA International – discusses why the NMSA works with sponsors, how they support the NMSA and the Naturopathic Student population.


Do we really need them? If so why, and what do they do?

The short answer is, yes.

NMSA sponsors play an important role in providing the NMSA with the stability and flexibility a non-profit needs in order to thrive. Extra external support allows NMSA to better support all naturopathic medical students with scholarships, conferences, travel grants, fellowships, and more.

As the NMSA’s Vice President of Development, it is my job to work directly with donors and secure funds for the NMSA. The reason I pursue and craft these relationships boils down to the reality that life is expensive.

I remember my first “sticker shock” experience associated with adult life was when I moved into my first apartment and had to buy my own paper towels. As a kid, my father would always lecture me about the scarcity of paper towel:

  •      Don’t use a full sheet of paper towel if you don’t need it, rip it in half!
  •      Never use paper towels to do a job that can be handled with a kitchen rag.
  •      Paper towels are expensive, stop using them so much!


Of course I never truly heeded his advice and continued to use paper towels as I needed. Let’s be honest, paper towels are one of the quickest, easiest and most efficient household tools available…and I used them liberally, until I moved into my own apartment!

I don’t know if I am the only person who was dumbfounded when they realized how expensive paper towels are, but gee whiz they are not cheap! I am now destined to become the grumpy old man who lectures my kids about how ungrateful they are to have paper towels.

The above tangent illustrates the point that life is expensive when “adulting.” I had a similar realization when I was first elected to the VP of Development position within the NMSA… gee whiz, running a non-profit organization is expensive!

As a first year medical student, I often heard about NMSA around my campus. I knew NMSA was a student-run organization that offered travel grants, scholarships and fellowships. As a student, I was most intrigued by the scholarships and decided to become involved in the organization. However, as my involvement with NMSA moved from the local to the international level, I was blown away by how much NMSA does beyond the occasional scholarship or travel grant.

We are a fully accredited non-profit organization with memberships in various medical organizations, international influence and paid employees! I slowly started to realize the costs that came with running a nonprofit organization and all the labor done behind the scenes! Annual conference fees, travel grant fees, scholarship fees, fellowship fees, employee fees, website hosting fees, etc…running a non-profit organization is expensive.

So this is where the role of sponsorships within the NMSA becomes more clear. Sponsors allow the NMSA to cover operational costs without asking for more money from our student members. As the VP of Development, it is my role to identify and secure sponsors for our organization. I feel extremely fortunate to be able to say that as an organization we only partner with external companies/organizations who are specifically committed to supporting naturopathic medical students. Prior to becoming an NMSA sponsor, each company undergoes a thorough vetting process where they must be approved by the entire NMSA International Board, which includes student representatives from all nine North American chapters. This process ensures that any NMSA sponsor is ethical, therapeutically relevant and maintains high production standards.

As a student, you can be confident that every sponsor is a company that you can feel comfortable using personally or recommending to future patients. Moving forward, be on the lookout for new exciting sponsorships and remember that new sponsorships allow for more local events, more happy hours, more fellowships, more scholarships, more learning opportunities and so much more!


Author: Khaleed Alston


Khaleed is a 3rd-year medical student at National University of Natural Medicine (NUNM). A native New Yorker, Khaleed graduated from Morehouse College with a bachelor’s degree in Psychology. After graduation, he spent three years as an elementary school teacher at Grace Church School, where he taught 2nd- and 4th-grade students. He also taught a course on South African History and Apartheid, which cumulated in 15 high school students traveling with Khaleed to Johannesburg, SA to participate in an Entrepreneurial Leadership program at The African Leadership Academy. As a medical student, he has worked with the Food as Medicine Institute at NUNM and is interested nutrition, oncology, gastroenterology, and chronic disease. Khaleed is passionate about making naturopathic medicine more accessible to minority populations and plans to work tirelessly to promote initiatives that will expand our scope of practice and make our medicine more affordable.


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