Twice each year, our Dean of Students, Steven Carter, accompanies students to Sacramento for the Acupuncture Board Licensing Exam. Below Steven describes their experience:


As the California Board Exam date quickly approaches, I am reminded of my very first experience with the exam five years ago when I had just joined the staff of Yo San University. It is a story worth re-telling…

It was 8:30am in Sacramento, California. In a small, beautiful park, just a few blocks from the Sacramento Convention Center, nine Yo San students are quietly practicing taiji or qigong. Otherwise, the park is empty. Just a few blocks away, more than four hundred students from schools throughout California and other states had already gathered and they were busy wolfing down pastries, bagels, coffee and orange juice. The Yo San students continued their qi practice, knowing that the day-long California Acupuncture Licensing Examination would be underway in less than ninety minutes.

Sitting on a park bench that day, watching these nine students move through their morning rituals, I am quietly craving a bagel and some coffee and wondering why these students have shunned the crowd and the rooms of food to move through their morning ritual.

At the time of this test, I had only been a part of Yo San University for one month and I was struggling to understand the many subtleties of the Yo San education and the larger Yo San experience. I knew this was a very special place, but it was important for me to quantify that "specialness" if I was going to be able to help strengthen the University in my new role as the Dean. Now, sitting on that park bench in Sacramento, I was witnessing the explanation I was looking for.

On the morning of the California Board Exam, a person has many choices. You can sleep as late as possible, drink as much coffee as possible, have a last-minute cram session, isolate yourself and pray, or wait nervously with your fellow test-takers loading carbs at the testing site. Yet on that August morning, our test-takers did "none of the above." They walked to the park, gathered as a small group, and turned to the practice that had been such an integral part of their studies for the past four years.

Let me make this one thing perfectly clear: Nobody spends thirty minutes practicing taiji or qigong on the morning of the CA Board Exam unless they are 100% certain that it will give them the strength and clarity they need for this day. You have precious little time, and you have much stress to manage. The choices you make are critical. It is a business decision. I learned this twenty-eight years ago when I chose meditation over lunch during the grueling MCAT exam. Clearly, after four years of studying to learn and "become the medicine," our students had learned that “becoming the medicine” wasn’t just a clever turn of a phrase that looked good in the Yo San catalog. The medicine had penetrated these students. It was a part of them. And they knew it was their best chance for success. These nine students knew exactly how to best prepare for the exam that morning and they were in the park preparing.

In that moment I felt genuinely sorry for the students from the other schools who were with us in Sacramento that day. I knew that their early-morning coffee and carb fest would deplete them by midday. Who has not felt that depletion under pressure? And I knew that they had no other way to fortify themselves for the challenges of that day. They had not become the medicine. They had taken classes and completed classes, but they had not become the medicine. And now, all that awaited them when they started to slip was a small ration of sad little granola bars and a bottle of water.

Back in Los Angeles, I waited for the exam results to start arriving in the mail. The news confirmed my experience: our passing rate for that exam was just one student shy of perfect. I wish the very best to all of the test-takers who will be joining me in the upcoming exam. And my congratulations to our many graduates who have truly “become the medicine.” May they share it with wisdom and altruism to those in need.

Steven A. Carter is the Dean of Administration & Student Affairs at Yo San University.

Meet Our Yo San Graduates

Your relationship with Yo San does not end at graduation. The ceremony conferring your Master of Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine degree marks your transition into the growing ranks of our distinguished alumni and enters you into a global network of passionate healers.  In most years, The pass rate of our graduates on the rigorous California Licensing exam is the best. In other years, it is near the top. Yo San graduates consistently achieve a near-perfect passing rate on the national certification exam as well.

Through our alumni network, graduates stay in touch with the university and one another. Visit the Alumni website for more information on University services available to our graduates. Visit the Yo San Find-An-Acupuncturist site to see the many alumni selecting to market their practice using our on-line marketing resources and expertise.

The following alumni profiles describe the many ways our alumni have found to give and contribute to the spiritual growth and health of their communities.

Alexa Hulsey, BA, MATCM, Dip. OM, L.Ac, (Class of 2005)

After graduating from Yo San, Alexa Hulsey spent three years as a YSU faculty member, clinical practitioner, and also served as the University's Assistant Academic Dean. She relocated to Tennessee and in 2010 opened East Nashville Community Acupuncture, which provides affordable acupuncture in a peaceful community setting. Her clinic now employs several full-time acupuncturists and provides around 1,000 low-cost acupuncture treatments every month. Alexa also currently serves on the Board of Directors for the Community Acupuncture Network.

Wing-Benn Deng, BS, MATCM, PhD, Dipl. Ch & Ac, L.Ac. (Class of 2003)

Dr. Wing-Benn Deng emigrated from his native Taiwan in 1995, intending to pursue a career in western medicine in the United States. He enrolled in pre-med studies at the University of California, San Diego, earning his Bachelor of Science in Biochemistry and Cell Biology. Upon graduation he experienced a personal health problem that altered his thinking about Western medicine. He decided to focus on holistic healing and entered the graduate program in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) at Yo San University (YSU) where he graduated with honors in 2004.

Following graduation from YSU, Dr. Deng obtained his California acupuncture license and joined YSU as Manager of the Herbal Dispensary in the Yo San Clinic. He also started teaching courses in Chinese Herbal Pharmacopoeia and Chinese Nutrition. In 2005, Dr. Deng gave a well-received series of community lectures on TCM and healthy aging at several local senior centers as part of the university's Healthy Aging Initiative sponsored by Unihealth Foundation. Currently, Dr. Deng is the Chair of Acupuncture Department at YSU and teaches TCM and Acupuncture courses at the university. He is also a clinical supervisor for the YSU externship programs at both Venice Family Clinic (Chronic Pain Management Program) and Children's Hospital Los Angeles. Dr. Deng has maintained a private acupuncture practice at the Yo San Clinic since 2004.


Karina Stewart  (Class of 1994)

Karina Stewart received her BA degree from Princeton University with a major in Cultural Anthropology. Growing up in Mexico, Karina was exposed to holistic medicine and meditation at an early age. She recalled practicing meditation and yoga in her teenage years as part of her daily routine along with a vegetarian diet at home. By chance in the early 90s’, Karina met Hua Ching Ni, the chancellor of Yo San University. She was impressed by him and his teachings and wanted to learn more about the Taoist philosophy and Chinese Medicine. That’s when she began her long journey through the world of Traditional Chinese Medicine.

Several months after graduating from Yo San,Karina married John Stewart, and together,they moved to Kathmandu, Nepal. There she opened a TCM clinic and began treating patients. Finding every opportunity to better her skills, Karina travelled to Japan and China to learn from the finest teachers and practitioner she could find. Constantly looking for something meaningful to do, Karina took part in building a company that produced handmade herbal products, and cultivated an herbal garden. She experimented with making Chinese Medicinal wines and found a formula that helped two infertile couples conceive.

When Karina and John married, they dreamed of one day creating a wellness resort. Years later, while traveling to Thailand for personal health reasons, John came across a large piece of land in Koh Samui. He fell in love with the tranquility and beauty of the place, as well as its history as a place for meditation and retreat. In 2001, Karina and John moved to Koh Samui and began planning for the wellness sanctuary of their dreams. It took them 3 years to get permission and licensing from the local government to create the necessary infrastructure, and to complete the architectural and landscape designs. It took them another year to build the resort. In November 2005, Kamalaya Wellness Sanctuary and Holistic Spa opened its doors. Yoga, stress reduction, and detox are some of the programs offered at the spa. The architecture is designed to help guests connect with nature and promote relaxation and wellbeing. Meals served at the restaurants focus on healthy eating with the finest yet simple ingredients. It was no surprise that in three short years,Kamalaya was named The Destination Spa of the Year by AsiaSpa Awards. Since then, Kamalaya continues to receive prestigious awards year after year, including the most recent Prime Minister’s Award for Excellence in Thailand. Karina truly believes that the reason for her success is due to the people working at Kamalaya. They are naturally caring and have the amazing ability to stay in tune with the needs of the guests. Karina remains involved as Brand/Concept Director. She continues to explore and design wellness programs based on the fundamental principles of TCM she learned at YSU.

When asked what advice she has for students who are just starting the YSU program, Karina urges them to go beyond the classroom learning and clinical training. “Embrace the entire life style,” she stressed, “learn I-Ching, Tai Chi, and read the Taoist texts.’ Above all, “Be inspired and focus on your passion. And don’t try to be good in everything… don’t be afraid to specialize in any one aspect of TCM.

To learn more about Kamalaya in Koh Samui, please visit their website:


Nini Mai and Jonah Ewell (Class of 2009)

Together, Nini and Jonah established a successful TCM herbal dispensary company, Fat Turtle Herbs, based in Culver City, California. “In the course of our studies at Yo San, we came to realize the need for a full service TCM herbal pharmacy that not only offers custom fulfillment of herbal formulas, but also provides educational support to both the acupuncture profession and the public in general” said Nini. “We were inspired by the awesome herb instructors we had at Yo San, and the supportive environment at school really made a difference; we felt encouraged and were optimistic we would make it,” added Jonah. Over the last two years, their company has grown from a part-time student-intern venture into a full-fledged successful business with four employees and orders coming in from Hawaii to Florida. In addition to the herbal company, Nini also maintains a thriving private acupuncture practice in the west Los Angeles area. To fulfill their mission of educational support to the profession, Fat Turtle Herbs made a donation to the Yo San University Alumni Scholarship fund in 2009, “as a token of appreciation for the education we received at Yo San, as well as to encourage other Yo San students to strive for success after graduation.” What advice do Nini and Jonah have for other students or junior practitioners on how to be successful? “The key is to be confident at what you do and don’t stop learning” Jonah offered. “Develop an ‘entrepreneurial hustle’ – you’ve got to get out there, identify opportunities and put in time and energy to make things happen”. “Good basic business acumen definitely helps,” added Nini, flashing a wide grin. To learn more about their herbal company, visit them online at:


Richard Rosen (Class of 1998)

“Everything from crunchy apples to complicated computer programs with a whole lot of needles in between” is a concise characterization of the career of Yo San University Graduate Richard Rosen.

When he graduated from Yo San in 1998, Richard might have imagined a full time acupuncture TCM practice. However, what unfolded in the ensuring years by Richard’s choice has included a range of activities that emerged out of expertise developed in earlier parts of his career as well as from his Yo San master’s degree.

A major step in diversifying his career was his move more than eleven years ago with his wife and three young daughters from his native Los Angeles to a new home in the semi-rural Napa Valley/Sonoma, California. In the tiny hamlet of Forestville The Rosen family acquired a very productive acre that provided space for the cultivation of exotic apples and several other fruit varieties. With the help of the entire family, Richard became comfortable in the role of part-time farmer and organic gardener. But being a steward of the earth was not enough for this Yo San graduate. Richard has additionally drawn from a prior career in computer programming continuing his in the role of development, marketing, consulting and maintenance of several software packages designed to assist TCM students and practitioners.
One product that assists TCM students in learning herbs was initially developed when he was struggling in the Yo San Program with the complexities of herbs and herbal formulas. Richard is also the author of a professional practice management software package, “TCM Pro”, which was utilized by the Yo San University Community Clinic for many years. He continues to promote this software package and works with numerous practices across the country regarding the use of that program.

Wearing another hat Richard is the proprietor of a Forestville, CA retail store called “The Good Life,” where he carries a complete line of herbs and other natural products. Finally, Richard carries on the Yo San University Ni Family tradition in a busy acupuncture practice in space adjacent to his retail store where he treats a wide range of conditions.

Need apples, herbs, software or a treatment while travel in California’s wine country?

Contact Richard at

Faculty Students Alumni Find an Acupuncturist Library
               13315 W. Washington Blvd. Los Angeles CA 90066 Tel: 310.577.3000 Fax: 310.577.3033 Email:

Ancient Wisdom - Family Legacy - Modern Medicine