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Carrington College Blog

At 64, Boise Massage Therapy Student Lamar Potter Shifts Gears to Make a Surprise Career and Life Change

November 10, 2022

If life hadn’t thrown 64-year-old Lamar Potter a curveball earlier this year, he’d still be working as a foreman for Union Pacific Railroad. 

Instead, he’s well on his way to completing Carrington’s Massage Therapy program—and to becoming a massage therapist. 

“I worked for the railroad for 25 years and I always thought I’d retire from there,” says Lamar. “Even when I had open heart surgery 11 years ago, I was back at work, swinging a sledgehammer, three months later. Before that, I worked as a logger, hooking logs onto a helicopter lift. I’ve always done hard physical work. The idea of doing anything else never really crossed my mind.” 

But earlier this year, Lamar was diagnosed with drop foot, a medical condition that made him prone to tripping. He was granted a medical disability retirement and suddenly faced with a big question: What now?  

“I knew I wasn’t ready to retire, so I started thinking about my options,” Lamar recalls. “As you get older, you become more aware of time. I’m the youngest of seven kids, and only two of my siblings are still alive. I want to make the most out of whatever time I have left and give back something positive to the world, and I think becoming a massage therapist will make it possible for me to do that. I’ve always been interested in massage and how it can improve a person’s health, mobility, and life. I researched the field, learned more about Carrington’s Massage Therapy program, and decided it was something I wanted to pursue.” 

He enrolled in April, 2022 and is on track to complete the program in as few as nine months!  

We talked with Lamar, who attends classes at Carrington’s Boise, Idaho campus, about his sudden career change, what it’s like to return to school after more than 45 years, and the best advice he’d give anyone who might consider following in his footsteps. 

 

You’re in a very different place than you were less than a year ago. What is it like returning to school at 64—and how does it compare to what you expected? 

At first, the thought of returning to school made me nervous. To be totally honest, I didn’t know if I could keep up or how I would fit in. I wasn’t sure I’d be good enough. Most of the students in my class are 30 to 40 years younger than me. But it’s been really great. Everyone at Carrington, from my instructors to the staff to my fellow students, has been nothing but kind and good to me. I feel accepted in class, which makes the experience a lot easier. Some of the kids have even told me that I’m an inspiration to them, which makes me feel pretty good. 

 

Has that surprised you?  

It has. People tell me I’m too tough on myself and that I don’t give myself enough credit. That might be true, but I’m also realistic. I know I’m not the best student in my class. I also know I don’t learn as quickly or retain information as easily as I did back in high school. But one of the great advantages you gain from growing older is a sense of perspective. When I think back on all the things I’ve experienced in my life, I realize I’ve overcome a lot of challenges—and I’ll do fine at this, too. I’m ready and willing to invest whatever effort and energy it takes to successfully complete my program. There are dozens of different kinds of massage therapy, so I still have a lot to learn, but I’ll do it. 

 

How did you first learn about Carrington and how did you end up becoming a student? 

I was aware of Carrington for some time, but I never thought I’d be a student there. When my medical situation forced me to retire from the railroad, I had to think about what I wanted my future to look like. I had planned to work for a few more years. I knew I wanted to supplement my retirement income and do something I enjoyed. I like people and wanted to pursue a career where I could provide some kind of health service that would help others. 

When I first contacted Carrington, I was nervous because I whether I could even be a successful student at my age. They were very encouraging from the beginning. The people at Carrington care, and they’re really committed to helping people like me achieve their goals. I’m grateful I’m a student there. I have sense of direction and a goal, and I feel like I’m in a very good place in my life.  

 

What is it about the Massage Therapy program that interested you?  

I know from personal experience what it’s like to have physical limitations and to have to adapt. I think a lot of people used to think of massage as a luxury or something that just felt good, but it offers so many benefits. After dealing with some of my own health challenges, the idea of providing a service that helped other people really appealed to me. It’s very different than the work I’ve done most of my life. 

 

What do you like most about being a student at Carrington? 

I really like learning something new and different. Massage therapy is so different from the work I’ve done all my life, and I like learning in an environment that is so friendly and supportive. I also enjoy being surrounded by a lot of intelligent, motivated people. There are 13 other students in my class, and I like them all.   

 

What would you tell someone who might be thinking about enrolling in the Massage Therapy program? 

I would tell them to believe in yourself and never count yourself out. If I can make the kind of life change I have and succeed, you can, too! I would also tell them that at Carrington, I experienced a level of care, support and encouragement that I never expected, so be open to receiving it. It made such a difference because I have never felt alone. 

When I first started my program, I felt discouraged a few times and wondered whether I’d made the right decision. I talked with my instructor, and she told me I was doing better than I realized and to not let fear or anxiety about the unknown slow me down. That one conversation gave me the courage to stick with it and keep moving forward. That’s what I’ve been doing, and I’m really glad I have. 

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