Stockton Massage Therapy Grad Veronica Lopez Launches New Career, Discovers the Healing Power of Touch
Back when Veronica Lopez was working as a supervisor at a Northern California resort or as a bartender at Benihana in San Francisco, interacting with guests was her favorite part of the job. But even then, she knew she wanted more.
“As much as I love engaging with people, I couldn’t help but believe I could connect with, and touch them, in a more significant way,” recalls Veronica, 27.
These days, that’s quite literally what she’s doing.
Veronica, who lives in Oakley, California, graduated in June, 2020 from Carrington’s Massage Therapy certificate program on the Stockton campus. She’s now working full-time as a certified massage therapist at a physical therapy clinic in Tracy, providing therapeutic massage to patients with arthritis, sciatica, tendonitis, rotator tears and other injuries and medical conditions. She also works 15 hours a week at a massage salon, providing clients with shiatsu, Swedish, sports medicine and deep tissue massage. Later this year, she’ll take the national Massage & Bodywork Licensing (MBlex) Examination.
“Before I began my Massage Therapy program at Carrington, I always thought of massage as a luxury,” Veronica says. “But now that I’m working every day with physical therapy patients, I understand how valuable massage can be in recovering from injuries, accidents and surgeries. I’ve really come to appreciate the power that massage has to help people not only feel good, but to feel better.”
We talked with Veronica about her experience at Carrington, her new career, and her dream for the future.
How did you learn about Carrington?
My mom completed her Medical Assisting program at Carrington, so I knew all about the school. Her experience made it a lot easier for me to make the commitment and go for it.
What was it about the Massage Therapy program that appealed to you?
Before I began my program at Carrington, I was working in the restaurant business. I’ve always been good with people and I really like helping others. I wanted a career instead of a job, and I knew making that happen would require education and training.
When I first started my program, I wasn’t sure what to expect, so I asked a lot of questions. Like many people, I thought of massage primarily as relaxation. But once I enrolled in the program, I realized it can be so much more. It totally opened my thinking as to what massage can accomplish. Massage is very valuable for pain management and for helping people with medical conditions and limitations regain or at least increase mobility and range of motion.
The pandemic hit during the last three months of your program. How did that impact your experience?
I finished my last weeks of classes online, which was a big adjustment. But in an odd way, things couldn’t have worked out better. I was just getting ready to pursue my externship, and suddenly the options became very limited. Massage studios were closed, but I was lucky. I was placed at a physical therapy office. It wasn’t what I expected my externship would be, but it turned out being an incredible experience. I never imagined my externship would lead to a full-time job offer, but it did!
What do you enjoy most about performing massage therapy?
I love the immediate benefits that patients often experience. So many people have been conditioned to reach for medication when they’re hurting, rather than identifying and addressing the root cause of why they’re hurting in the first place. Massage is part of a more holistic approach to health and wellness. I love being able to help people by performing a service that improves their health and leaves them feeling better.
You completed your certificate program in June and enrolled in the AA program soon after. What’s next for you?
When I enrolled in my Massage Therapy certificate program, my objective was to start working as a massage therapist as soon as possible. But once I realized how much I love learning, continuing my education and training was a logical next step. The team at Carrington showed me how I could transfer credits from previous college courses I’d taken to fast-track my program and graduate with my Associate of Science degree in Health Studies in November, 2021.
Ten years from now, what would you like to be doing?
After I complete my associate’s degree, I’m planning to pursue a BA in Psychology. I’d like to eventually become a licensed acupuncturist and Doctor of Oriental Medicine. I’m already checking out an acupuncture school in San Francisco. I’m not sure where I’ll end up, but I know I’m on my way. The past year and half have been lifechanging. I initially enrolled at Carrington because I wanted a better job, greater life balance, and the chance to spend more time with my four-year-old son. In the process, I discovered my passion.