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Carrington College Blog

Three Times the Charm: How Nickole Molina Changed her Life with Carrington’s Massage Therapy Program

November 30, 2022

Twice Nickole Molina tried to finish massage therapy school before she found the encouragement and structure she needed to go the distance at Carrington’s Massage Therapy (MT) program on the Spokane, Washington campus. Ashley Burt, her Carrington MT instructor, made the difference with a very disciplined but caring mentorship. Nickole credits Professor Burt for supporting her as she found her own path. 

For Nickole, that path was to find strength in herself. Her life’s challenges were getting the better of her and she struggled with an alcohol problem. Now she enjoys being a single mom to her two-year-old daughter, Phoenix (who was in the background of this interview, humming along the entire time in the car as her Mom drove her to nursery school). This was Nickole’s second day at her job as a massage therapist. “She sings and hums all the time,” Nickole said about Phoenix, virtually smiling over the phone. Nickole has found the kind of work that gives meaning and purpose to her life. This is her story.  


Tell me about yourself. 

My parents were born in Puerto Rico and raised in New York.  They moved to the US in 1996. They had a rough upbringing in Puerto Rico which was hard to get out of. They didn’t want their future family to grow up around gang violence and drugs. They wanted better for us. I’m the oldest of four siblings. I’m 25 years old.  

I was born in 1997 and raised in Spokane Valley. When I was 19, my family moved to Florida. I went to my first Massage Therapy program there, but I was struggling and couldn’t finish it.  I had medical issues and was drinking too much. Then I got pregnant. When I found out I was pregnant, I got sober. And in 2020, six months pregnant, I went to school again. In 2021 I decided to move back to Spokane on my own to start my life over and to maintain my sobriety. At that point I was two years sober.  


How did you decide to become a Massage Therapist? 

A friend who was very holistic suggested MT to me; she thought I had the right instinct for it. I was tired of working unsatisfying jobs; I wanted to do something with more meaning. But it was a difficult time; I continued to struggle with maintaining my own sobriety, I was caring for my daughter, my father had cancer, and I was dealing with the emotions of my grandfather who was sick with cancer. Also the father of my child almost died from an overdose. I left a relationship of domestic violence for a better future for the both of us.  


How did you decide on Carrington? 

I just googled for schools in the area and applied. I had failed to finish two other schools before. But I was going to keep trying; I finally found what I needed.  


What was it like at Carrington? 

It was not a large class and we became very close; there was a lot of one-on-one time. At first I thought Professor Burt was mean; she wouldn’t let anyone get away with anything and wouldn’t put up with any excuses. We had to get the work done. But then I realized it was tough love she was practicing and that she was very caring. She was helping me not to fail.  


What was your favorite part of your studies? 

I enjoyed learning about the body; the different systems and how it works together. I mean, we’re made of these perfectly amazing bodies that are so beautiful. It’s a blessing we’re given these beautiful bodies. I learned to love life more; I developed a greater love for humanity. 


How did you find your job? 

I went for an interview at Elements Massage while I was at school, but they needed a full-time not part-time employee. They told me to come back when I had graduated and had my license.    


What’s best about your job? 

I have more autonomy with my work; I can do what I want. I love to help solve whatever problem my clients are having with their bodies.  


Do you have any words of advice for anyone thinking about enrolling in school? 

Okay… well first, just follow your heart and do what you want because at the end of the day if you don’t, the only one that misses out on life is you. You’ve got to make it happen yourself.  

Second, I want to say something to those challenged by generations of family: complacency about your situation is not enough.  You can make the change in yourself. We can do better; we can be the change for the next direction.  


Inspiring words… 

One more thing: a lot of people feel very differently about what to believe in, if there is a God – or however you think about it – the universe at work, or whatever it is people want to think. It’s important to have a relationship to that, whatever it is to you, whatever’s out there because it’s your higher self too – it helps you become capable of seeing yourself.  

I did this for my father and mother. Puerto Ricans are very prideful people; we hold our flags high, sing, dance, feed everyone and take care of the ones we love. We are family driven. My father would tell me “Make me proud,” and 
“Don’t waste time! Before you know it you’ll be 25, and you’ve done nothing with your life.” I hope he is proud of me for fighting against all odds to get here! After I graduated he said, “What’s next? You can’t stop now!” I know great things are to come! I also want to thank my mom for telling me the truth, no matter how much it hurt, and always ensuring I don’t settle for less. 


I can hear Phoenix humming away in the back seat of your car…. 

Yeah, it feels so surreal, now that I have this job, driving to work on my second day… 

I’m doing this for her.

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