Graduation Inspiration

By Leslie Young
[Editor's Note]

This year, I’ve been basking in the realm of massage therapy education, thanks to ABMP’s School Issues Forum and some association projects. I’ve had red carpet passes to a handful of quality massage therapy schools across the country. In those physiology classes, Swedish labs, and student clinics, I’ve vicariously absorbed the enlightenment that is education and the transformation that massage therapy brings to one’s life.

When I started my travels, I was excited, but the adventure has been even better than anticipated because I shared in many students’ final classes and graduations. I was skeptical, too, because I’ve heard the conversations questioning the caliber of today’s new practitioners. Yes, I saw some students who were more focused on texting than textbooks. And I felt the generation gap as I winced at beach attire, missed consistent eye contact, and heard blue language. But as I met these individuals, I was deeply impressed by many of them and moved by their stories.

I loved hearing Troy, a former truck driver from Utah, gush about how excited he is to start helping people through massage. I watched Kellee from North Dakota tear up as she explained how massage has brought heart and soul to her business degree and that she can’t wait to apply her broad base of skills in the profession. My heart was full as I listened to Frank from Michigan share his feelings about how massage therapy has given his life purpose for the first time.

I visited a smaller school nested within an inner-city tech program and attended its May graduation. I saw waves of newly minted therapists, a virtual rainbow of ethnic backgrounds, glowing with pride. Several told me they were the first individuals in their families to get an education. Not only are they fulfilling their goals and setting an example for their siblings and children, they’re helping spread the word about healing touch within their communities.

In these months after graduation, reality will seep into their dreams. That enthusiasm and dedication will have to carry them through good times and bad. I trust that their optimism and ideals are resilient.

I often write about how I believe continuing education is a font of inspiration for MTs as their careers evolve. Perhaps another grounding source can come from retracing steps and visiting the hallways, classrooms, and clinics where you first learned your deep appreciation for touch. As you rub shoulders with these practitioners-to-be, smile and say “hello.” You are their mentors. And, hopefully, their lights will shine on you as they did on me.


Leslie A. Young, Editor in Chief