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This is the fourth of a 12-part series featuring young professionals in the Blue Water Area. Each month two to three individuals from different industries will be spotlighted.

Written by Audrey Sochor

Ask any Blue Water Area native or out of town visitor what they love best about the region and the immediate response is usually the beautiful water.
“The sailing season all during summer is huge for (my family),” said Chelsea Khabbaz. “And I just love the small town community, but we still have a fair amount of amenities.” But this particular group of young talent also said the area has another thing going for it – the expanding
healthcare industry and ever-growing job opportunities it brings.

Chelsea Khabbaz

After earning her degree from Michigan State University, the Port Huron native wasn’t able to find work in town, so took a lab position at Royal Oak Beaumont. “I would come home on the weekends every once in a while just to hang out with my parents, who are still here in town,” Khabbaz said. But the longer she lived in Royal Oak the more her thoughts returned to the idea of moving back to Port Huron, especially when she met her now husband during one of her visits.

The couple tossed around the idea of remaining in the Royal Oak area, or coming back to be near family and the water. Everything fell into place when she was offered both a Come Home Award from the Community
Foundation and a job offer as a medical laboratory scientist at McLaren Port Huron Hospital.

“Some places like Royal Oak don’t care if you stay or go,” she said. “Here with the Community Foundation doing this Come Home reverse scholarship, it has a huge impact. I feel like a sense of obligation, good
obligation, to this area now because of what they’ve done for me. And it creates this feel that this community wants the young people here, want the talented people here.”

Khabbaz and her lab colleagues may not garner as much prestige as the physicians or nurses they work with, but the behind the scenes team of the medical field plays just as an important role in healthcare.

“The focus of the clinic lab is providing accurate results so that the doctors can properly diagnose and treat their patients,” Khabbaz said. “They depend on us it get those results to them. Even McLaren being a smaller hospital, it’s still a very fast-paced environment,” she added. “We do a lot of
the outpatient work in town, we do all of the inpatient work, emergency center, everything, so it’s very busy.” And with McLaren expanding, more job opportunities for nursing and other medical careers are becoming

Katie Kuhn

One young professional who has witnessed the expansion of McLaren Port Huron from her back door is Katie Kuhn, owner of Huron Point Acupuncture. But traditional western medical care isn’t the only healthcare the Blue Water community is embracing, she said.

“The community support has been overwhelming,” Kuhn said. “I really didn’t know how it would be perceived here, but it’s been really positive. A lot of the local physicians are really open to acupuncture and
complementary healthcare. I’ve had a really great rapport with a lot of the medical professionals here.”

Originally from St. Clair, she fell in love with acupuncture and the holistic philosophy of Chinese medicine during her undergrad years at Western Michigan University. She later went on to grad school at New York
Chiropractic College.

It was while living in upstate New York with her husband that Kuhn decided it was time to move closer to her family and embrace the opportunities for growth her hometown provided.
“I felt like there was really a gap here in the Blue Water Area for complementary and alternative healthcare,” Kuhn said. “I felt like it was a really great time. I think there are a lot of things happening in Port Huron and the area in general.”

“I’ve grown much more than I’ve ever anticipated,” she added. “I thought I’d stay a one woman show.” She has since hired a front desk support and will soon be bringing on a second. Kuhn and her practice have also brought other young talent to the area. In addition to the front office staff, she
also recently hired acupuncturist Scott Schauland, who is originally from Marquette.

She credits her growth not only to the support of the medical community, but the Blue Water Area Chamber of Commerce and Blue Water Young Professionals that have helped with the everyday struggles of owning a
business and referring clients. “It’s completely changed my life and I’m very grateful for the support,” Kuhn said.

Rachel Brooks and Travis Tourjee

Talk to one of the many chiropractors in town and they’d be the first to admit there are a lot to be found in the area. But Rachel Brooks, owner of Brookside Chiropractic, said the demand is there to match.
She and her husband, Travis Tourjee, share a growing practice but it didn’t happen by mistake.

“We were definitely very active in getting involved,” Brooks said. “The chamber of commerce was very helpful to get started and start meeting people.” In fact, fellow chamber member Kuhn was one of the first friends she made when she moved back.

Both Brooks and Tourjee got into chiropractic care for different reasons. One of the main reasons that attracted Brooks to the profession was the chance to run her own business while also having a skill to make people better. “For me what really flipped the switch was a wrestling injury,” Tourjee said. Getting injured during a match left him with breathing issues and other pain. “I went to a chiropractor – one visit – and I was better.”

The pair met in the gym at Logan University in Missouri and bonded over their shared love of fitness. Both were earning their doctor of chiropractic and Brooks also received her master’s in nutrition while there.
Being a transplant to the area, Tourjee shares his wife’s appreciation for organizations like the chamber and their BNI group. It has exposed him to the grassroots businesses and people passionate about making their
community a better place. “There are a lot of healthcare opportunities around, which is nice too, that we can refer and work with other healthcare professionals,” Tourjee said.

For Tourjee, who grew up in the cornfields of northwest Ohio, another selling point for the area was Lake Huron. “We had always considered living out west, and bringing Dr. Travis back here with me and him seeing the lake and being able to go for beach walks for the first time was a huge selling point for him,” Brooks said. “It’s like a four month vacation in the summer. It’s what people pay to go to Florida for, but we get it for four months of the year just right outside our door.”

All four of the healthcare young professionals want the Blue Water Area to continue to grow both in their industry and in general. They love the water and seeing the new restaurants and other development coming to
the area, but do realize things like nightlife have been slow to take off. Overall, they’re happy with the unique geographical location and all the opportunities it affords.“I can’t see living anywhere else,” Khabbaz said. “We have everything we need here, everything and more,