Faculty Spotlight – Meet Kerry Matthews

MassageTherapy Program Director Kerry MatthewsWe’d like to introduce you to Kerry Matthews, Massage Therapy Program Director at our Carrington College California San Leandro campus.

Kerry, thanks for your time today, how did you first get into massage therapy?

It was 15 years ago; I was 35 and working in the bakery at Safeway. I just felt that something else was out there for me. I’d never had a career. I worked at a pizza parlor for 10 years from age 15 to 25; from there I went to Safeway, and from there into Massage Therapy. It definitely was a calling for me; it just took me 35 years to hear it!

I started thinking about massage because I’m a very ‘touchy-feely’ kind of person; I like to hug people, I’m a natural people person. I’ve had people say they feel better when they’re around me. Not long after I started thinking about it, one of my friends came to me and said “I met this lady, you have to check out her school”, so I did and here I am – It’s been a great journey.

I was certified as a Massage Therapist in 1999. I opened my own sole proprietorship in a little place, a co-op really, called the Reunion Center in Pleasant Hill. It was a very eclectic group who shared a ‘heal the world’ mentality; from acupuncture, to chiropractic, to iridology; all the alternative types of therapies. I was nurtured by a lady called A Diamond Trammel; Diamond was one of my first mentors.

When did you start at Carrington?

I actually started out as a substitute at the Antioch campus back in 2008. As an on-call substitute you’re just covering a day here and there, or a week’s vacation, so I continued to practice. I just hung in there because I always felt something was going to happen for me at this company. I’m doing what I know I love – and that is to show people how massage therapy is so wonderful for the body.

I first came to the San Leandro campus in 2011, also as a substitute. When I first got here I was like “No no no – this is too far from my house” as it’s about an hour and a half drive from my home in Pittsburg, CA. But the people and the place won me over – I love it here!

Did you move to get closer?

No. I still commute three hours and more than 100 miles a day! I guess that shows how much I love this job. It’s a fantastic campus, the people are wonderful, they’re just so supportive.

I love my students and I love to teach. It’s my passion, my heart, and I know I’m doing something that’s helping not only the people I’m teaching, but also indirectly, all the people they’ll go out and help in the years to come. It’s like ripples on a lake…and it’s the most amazing thing for me to be a part of.

I hear you had to go back to school too to work here?

I became a regular part-time employee in 2012; but one of the requirements of teaching here is you need an associate’s degree. I’d never been to college so I didn’t have one. The Dean [at the time] told me that if I was willing to get my associate’s degree, I’d be the ‘interim’ Program Director until I graduated.

So I would get up at 4am to do my online degree homework and modules, commute 90 minutes each way, and work. It was tough. Honestly it seemed like I was the Program Director almost immediately, there was no real ‘interim’ period as far as I was concerned.

What was your associate’s degree in?

I did a Business course; I knew it was something I should have done before I went into business myself. It’s still something I coach my students on all the time. I tell them they really need to take a business course if they want to go into business for themselves. I try to get them to start thinking about it now.

When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?

Oh…a vet of course! I loved animals, and I still do. But the other thing we used to do when I was a kid was play ‘school’, and I was always the teacher. So I guess that was my pre-training!

What was your favorite other job?

I’d say working at Mamma Mia Pizzeria – I spent ten years there from age 15 to 25; I grew up there. I did everything; I was the counter person, I’d make pizzas, I’d serve, I’d clean – I was like the manager, but without the title or the pay! It was a small little shop owned by a wonderful woman who became a great friend. Unfortunately, after I left, the whole ‘anti-carb’ craze ruined the business.

If you weren’t a teacher today and money was no object, what would you be?

I think I would open a healing center, like the model I started out in myself. I’d like to be able to have a space to help the new generation of healers come out and discover their gifts.

Tell us a little about your family?

I’m married to Jim. We have a son and a daughter. My son Brandon is 28; he just became a dad for the first time on April 1st, so I’m a brand new grandma! My daughter Amanda is 21; she’s planning on going into the Carrington Vocational Nursing program in July, which we’re very excited about.

Share an interesting fact that your students might not know about you

I’m a car gal; my husband and I go to car shows and I’m really into classic cars and hot rods. My husband is in the (very long!) process of restoring a 1955 Ford Pick-up. I believe he’s going to get it on the road someday soon – he’s working on it with my son Brandon. It’s not going to look pretty, it’s a bit of a rust bucket, but he hopes to have it on the road by September or so, before my son moves to North Carolina. It’s wonderful for them to have that time together too.

If you could have dinner with anyone, alive or dead, who would you choose?

John Lennon. I’d like to hear some of his insights about life. All their music had messages; I listen to The Beatles in the car on my way to work. I want to know what his insight was into the universal mysteries I guess! I really feel like they had a huge insight into the growth of the human soul.

If you knew you going to be stranded on a desert island, what book, movie & music would you take?

Book – I think I would have to take my “Heal Your Body” by Louise Hay.

Music – My iPod is full of The Beatles and The Eagles, but if it was one album I’d take Hotel California.

Movie – The Great Outdoors – My all time classic feel good movie with Dan Ackroyd and John Candy.

What’s the single biggest piece of advice you’d give to new students?

Be willing and open to change…and grow as a person, as a soul. Massage therapy is a very energetic modality, and you are dependent on your own gift. You have to be very aware all the time, otherwise you can easily take on other peoples’ pain.

Last question – you get an unexpected afternoon off, what would you do with the time?

I would go out in my garden, tend my roses and walk around in the grass bare foot and throw the ball for my dog – a German Shepherd/Pit Bull mix called Dahlia.

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