The ALANA Cultural Center held its last monthly Thrive Lunch for the semester with Colgate alumna Kimberly Sawatis-Sacco on Wednesday, November 13. 

A 1993 graduate with a double major in Native American Studies and Sociology and Anthropology, Sawatis-Sacco began her career at Colgate a year late, deferring acceptance of admission after being diagnosed with bone cancer weeks before her high school graduation. 

Beginning school in the fall of 1989, Sawatis-Sacco was still undergoing chemotherapy, explaining how she, “went through and did what I had to do,” though this was not always as easy or simple as she makes it sound. On crutches and suffering from hair loss due to her treatments, many students ignored her. Reflecting now, she attributes this to them letting fear drive their behavior.

Only during Sawatis-Sacco’s sophomore year at Colgate did she begin to realize how much she had gone through. She was getting better physically, but with that realized that her mental and emotional health were being neglected. Using the university’s counseling service and support groups, Sawatis-Sacco began to repair her mental health and get involved with new and exciting endeavors.

Sawatis joined the Youth Group Program with the United Indian Nation, and involved herself in volunteerism and advocacy projects. Drafting her resume with Career Services her senior year as she prepared to venture into the job market, Sawatis-Sacco’s objective read: “To increase the quality of life to under-represented groups.” She hasn’t changed it since.

Following her graduation in 1993, Sawatis-Sacco began working as a Behavioral Support Specialist for children with intellectual disabilities while continuing her education in public health causes. Referring to herself as a “perpetual student,” Sawatis-Sacco still takes courses to this day at a local SUNY.

Having been a consumer of therapy and other mental health services throughout her lifetime, Sawatis-Sacco’s focus eventually shifted to offering what she refers to as “healing sessions” to those seeking spiritual guidance. Sawatis began to expand her natural talents as a Healer and a Seer. Drawing from Native American ideology which preaches the idea of life and society as circular Sawatis-Sacco said, “everything comes full circle; when we try to control these circles is when we run into problems.” 

In regards to using a holistic approach with her clients, Sawatis-Sacco believes that, “anything is possible, and nothing’s off the table.” Although she has no post-graduate degrees in healing, it is something that she understands intuitively. When others ask her how she does it she says, “I just do.”

Now, Sawatis-Sacco owns Ascend Wellness and Counseling, LLC. Located in Syracuse, New York, it is her private practice where she offers services like Reiki, Ear Candling, Life Coaching and Intuitive Readings. 

The major takeaway came back to Sawatis-Sacco’s discussion of life as circular. Having been through so many hardships at such a young age, she has come to the conclusion that people should just “go with the flow—life is too short.”

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