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Turning a personal passion into a career through massage therapy

by Public Relations and Marketing | Published Dec 04, 2020

Students who enroll in College of Lake County’s (CLC) massage therapy program hail from all types of backgrounds and levels of fitness. Karina Cromack’s path began freshman year of high school when she joined Civil Air Patrol at Libertyville High School.  

“You had to pass certain physical fitness tests. I worked really hard just to pass that test and then I was really motivated to help other people reach that goal.”  

Photo of Karina CromackShe became a student leader in the group and found a passion for helping others get fit. So, it made sense Cromack (right) pursued fitness when she graduated high school. After getting her personal trainer certification, she was drawn to the massage therapy program at CLC and enrolled this past August. 

“We’ve learned about a lot of modalities,” said Cromack. “I’m very interested in sports massage. It would be really cool to work with athletes, especially combining personal training with massage.” 

“Each student’s path is very unique,” says Dr. Joana Pabedinskas, department chair for health and wellness promotion, kinesiology and massage therapy at CLC. “There are so many different opportunities within the field of massage therapy. Through our program students will learn the knowledge, skills and abilities to become a licensed massage therapist. They are taught a variety of hands-on techniques that they can use throughout their career.” 

Successful completion of three prerequisite courses plus two semesters in the CLC massage therapy program prepares students to complete the federal licensing exam (MBLEx) on which they maintain a high pass rate. While that is indeed the goal, the program focuses on more than just the exam pass rate. 

“We’re a hidden gem,” Pabedinskas said. “We really stress to students you’re not just a massage student, you’re a CLC student. You have all the resources of the college. Plus, our massage certificate feeds directly into our associate in applied science in health and wellness promotion.” 

Students spend time throughout the program learning and practicing techniques in the classroom. They gain real world hands-on experience by performing massage sessions at CLC’s on-site massage clinic house at the Southlake Campus within the Center for Health & Wellness Promotion. When they’re not practicing their newfound craft, they’re learning what it takes to prosper in their newfound careers. 

“We’re taking a business class, too, which is also helpful. By the end of the class, we’ll have our own website and we’ll be making business cards. A lot of it is setting you up for success,” says Cromack. 

Pabedinskas says that’s what it’s all about. “It is such an exciting opportunity. They are engaging with material to drive them to success whether they want to become an employee, an independent contractor, or even begin their own massage therapy business.”

About College of Lake County:

The College of Lake County is a comprehensive community college committed to equitable high-quality education, cultural enrichment and partnerships to advance the diverse communities it serves in northeastern Illinois. Offered at three campuses in Grayslake, Vernon Hills and Waukegan or online, college classes are affordable and accessible to help each student achieve academic, career and personal goals. More than 70,000 students graduated with degrees and certificates since the college opened in 1969. The College of Lake County is the only higher-education institution ranked among the top 15 best places to work in Illinois by Forbes and is a national leader in many areas, including sustainability and conservation.