Stephanie Nyman was 10 years old when she was put in charge of her ailing grandparents and bedridden mother. Twelve years later, the Harper College student believes her natural instincts in facilitating healing will guide her well as a geriatric massage therapist.
Now, she's one step closer to that goal. The Schaumburg resident is a recent recipient of a first-time national $1,000 scholarship from the American Massage Therapy Association.
Nyman, who is pursuing a certificate in Therapeutic Massage through Harper's Continuing Education Department while working full-time at a restaurant, says the scholarship goes a long way toward funding her Harper education.
Harper's program was one of only 20 to receive the scholarship nationwide.
"I know what a difference this money makes for our students, and it means a lot that this national organization has recognized us and is willing to help us help our students succeed," says Susan Landers, coordinator of the program.
Harper's Therapeutic Massage program takes a year or less to complete. Students learn the clinical aspects of field -- taking courses in anatomy, physiology and kinesiology -- while also completing 100 hours of clinic practice.
Though courses are available in techniques like Hawaiian Hot Stone massage and Lomi Lomi, the college's program is becoming more therapy-focused overall, with students like Nyman learning skills focused on massage's role in healing. Graduates often work in fitness centers, sports clinics, doctor or chiropractor offices, hospitals or nursing homes.
Nyman, who is on track to graduate in January 2014, initially took an introductory course at Harper to feel out the field -- and was immediately hooked.
"I love seeing the real-time effects of my practice," she says. "It is a field where I can help and heal others while still working in a clinical setting."
The next summer cohort will start May 16. For more information on the program, visit www.harpercollege.edu/ce.
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