On May 16, 2014, Karen Young, 53, was awarded a $500 Successful Hands Grant at the ONE Concept Conference in Atlanta, Georgia. The Successful Hands Grant Program, a collaborative effort of Biofreeze, Massage Envy Spa and Bon Vital', supports professional massage therapy students in their educational pursuits. ONE Concept, the conference's organizer, partnered with Biofreeze, Massage Envy Spa and Bon Vital' to promote the grant program.
FutureLMT.com interviewed Young, who lives in Columbia, South Carolina, and graduated from the Columbia Campus of Southeastern Institute.
When and how did you decide massage was the right career for you?
A: I have a bachelor's degree in physical education and a master's in health care administration. I worked with athletes as an athletic trainer assistant when I was in college at Morgan State University, and I enjoyed handling the unique cases that came through the training room. I had initially looked at getting into physical therapy, but due to family and my job I wasn't able to pursue that career. I then looked at massage therapy and decided it would give me the opportunity to work with athletes and have a hand in their rehabilitation. The schedule I had at massage school allowed me to continue working during the day; I am the registrar at a Department of Defense elementary school. The 16-month [massage] program was challenging, but I enjoyed every minute of class. My instructor, Renee Shafer, combined the information in the textbooks with real-life experiences, [which] gave me a better understanding and love for the field.
What most excites you about your new career as a massage therapist?
A: The most exciting thing is it allows me to continue my work at the school, where I have been for over 16 years, and still work with [massage] clients, helping them as they manage the busy schedules and stressful lives all of us have. I enjoy working with people and helping them improve their quality of life.
What is the most important thing to consider when choosing a massage therapy school?
A: The most important thing for me was the fact that they offered part-time classes that would allow me to continue to work during the day to be able to support myself and my family. The instructors are another big part of selecting a school. They have to be not only knowledgeable about the field, but patient and considerate of the range of learning styles their students have. My instructor used a variety of teaching styles, which I believe was very beneficial to all of the students in the class because it had a wide variety of personalities and educational backgrounds. She made learning fun and included real-life activities, [such as] field trips to various facilities, and individuals currently in the field came in to talk to us about the profession and their experiences. She made every day an adventure and made you want to come back for more.
What are your plans for growing your business and for finding and retaining clients?
A: I currently work alongside a chiropractor on an on-call basis, [which] allows me to meet new people. I also have some connections with local sports teams, and I believe that by the quality of my work and word of mouth I can grow my business.
In five years, where do you see yourself and your career?
A: In five years, I see myself working with a sports team as their massage therapist, as well as continuing to have clients outside the team.
How did you use the Successful Hands grant money you received?
A: I used it to buy a massage chair and supplies, as well as some business cards.
About the Successful Hands Grant Program
The Successful Hands Grant Program is accepting applications until October 15. Current massage therapy students can apply for one of five $1,000 grants, which may be used for program fees, books and supplies, licensing, association membership or to buy products and equipment. The application process requires students to write an essay of 200 words or less on the topic "What does being a successful massage therapist mean to me?" A team of industry representatives will review all submissions to choose the five winners. In addition, each winner's school will receive a $500 grant and a $500 product package.
Students may apply online at successfulhandsgrants.com.