Carla Ferrara ’83
Twenty years ago Carla Ferrara ’83 (EE) approached her ill health with the mind of an engineer, leading her to a turning point in both her career and well-being. Making the transition from a systems design engineer to a health and wellness practitioner was a convoluted journey, says Ferrara, one that began after a decade of engineering jobs and the births of her two children. After having health challenges, first with autoimmunity and then with Lyme disease, she was frustrated with the limited answers doctors had available. With her love for science emboldening her, Ferrara set forth to use theory and practice to uncover the solutions she needed.
“I had to pretty much do some digging and learning about so many different aspects of health and techniques or approaches to healing,” she explains. “An engineering mind is curious—and that’s what kept me going.”
The more she learned, the more Ferrara yearned to share her knowledge. “Functional medicine tries to look at the big picture of what is going on, where everything matters, while finding the root to these problems,” she clarifies.
She started with personal training certification and practice to study movement and how it can help healing. After graduating in 2010 from the Institute of Integrative Nutrition, she became a certified health coach. With further study she became a certified Functional Nutrition and Lifestyle Practitioner through the Functional Nutrition Alliance, with added Hashimoto’s Disease [autoimmune disorder] training. She began to heal and to teach health and wellness classes and workshops locally to teachers, children, and the general public.
“I liked the challenges, both intellectually and socially, of working in a mostly male environment. Yet my lack of confidence stood out to me and I knew I needed to work on that.”
From there, she became certified as a yoga instructor, and most recently completed a Holistic Lyme Practitioner Mentorship program through Uprooting Lyme, focusing on treatment for Lyme and chronic complex diseases.
“Keeping curiosity alive can help minimize the fear and hopelessness that can come with chronic health challenges,” she says. “This all leads me to the question I try to keep in mind: ‘How can we use the power of our innate body intelligence in combination with the latest science to make headway in treating chronic disease?’”
Today, Ferrara helps educate people to take small and simple steps toward better health through online programs and private sessions, helping clients discover the hidden reasons they don’t feel their best, so they can make life-giving changes.
With a love for math and science, Ferrara came to WPI hoping to learn more about where she wanted life to take her. “I liked the challenges, both intellectually and socially, of working in a mostly male environment. Yet my lack of confidence stood out to me and I knew I needed to work on that.” She says her MQP was a struggle, but she uncovered the need to work closer with her team to in order to seek a deeper understanding of the technology involved. “I learned to own the responsibility to reach out,” she recalls. “I felt I successfully achieved this in one of my most fulfilling systems design engineering jobs at GTE, where I worked very closely with an incredible team on a fast-paced project.”
Another influence from her undergrad years that still resonates today is crew. “Movement and team sports was a big part of my life. Crew is very much based on balance, full-body strength, and working with your boatmates. Crew helped me understand more deeply the importance of movement, and was not merely a stress relief or strength enhancer for health’s sake. It also helped me understand how much our connection to each other matters—both in and out of the boat.”