Just Say Yes
Susan G. Prasch is a licensed massage therapist and graduate student in Plymouth State University’s College of Graduate Studies’ master of education in adult learning and development program. Prasch finished her last course with us at the end of the winter term, and will march in this spring’s commencement ceremony. Her “just say yes” philosophy in life found her enrolling in this personally enriching and influential program in the fall of 2008.
Advising was a key factor in Prasch’s success at Plymouth State University. Cheryl Baker, College of Graduate Studies’ director of graduate recruitment and outreach, supported Prasch’s vision of the connection between her massage therapy practice, her teaching, and her graduate education. “Cheryl was able to take my snapshot and help me create a whole painting out of it,” said Prasch. “I know I can rely on Cheryl; she’s very supportive.”
Prasch is also a massage therapy instructor at River Valley Community College in Claremont, New Hampshire. She was asked to give massage therapy instruction around the same time she enrolled at PSU. Rather than shying away from the new challenge, Prasch decided again to “just say yes”; yes to something she’d always wanted to do: teach. A practicing massage therapist for almost 12 years, she wanted to teach her craft to others. Having been given the opportunity, she’s taught two courses to massage therapy students at the community college for the past four years: Pathology; and Clinical Evaluation and Treatment.
Prasch’s advisor continued to be a source of support and counsel. Prasch recalls, “I remember having a difficult time with one class I was about to teach. Cheryl helped me work through my difficulty. The first day I was to teach the class I received a lovely voice message from Cheryl, telling me she knew I could do this; teach the class…leaving that message went above and beyond being an advisor.”
She found her program in the College of Graduate Studies easily paralleled with her practice and with her teaching. “Graduate course work and teaching massage therapy aligned so well for me. I find I use what I learn to better my own teaching.” With each completed graduate term, she found herself “assessing my own teaching and revising my lesson plans and curriculum. Teaching now is a dramatically different experience for me because of my coursework at PSU. Working in education and in the periphery of health care, I see a perfect marriage between the two—wellness and education at the same time: wellness education.”
According to Prasch, “massage therapy has gone through an evolution, and is coming into its own. Benefits are more science and evidence based. For me, getting this advanced degree at this time, is very timely. Massage therapy is not just ‘fluff and buff.’ It is becoming more and more widely accepted in traditional medicine as a very effective health and wellness modality.”
When working with patients receiving chemotherapy at Dartmouth Hitchcock Hospital, she finds the patients reap huge benefits from her practice: pain reduction; reduced anxiety; a satisfied need for touch; a need to be away from treatment. Prasch remarked, “I find it is very gratifying to help relax patients while they are having a four-hour chemo treatment.”
In addition, she works with the Hand to Heart Project, a non-profit hospice program based in the Upper Valley of New Hampshire and Vermont. Through this program Prasch provides hospice massage therapy. “It is an honor that someone is willing to share a piece of their life and let me in. I can give pleasure to someone who is experiencing pain. This is very enriching and personally frightening—this could be me.”
Prasch is also a support and an example for other adults wanting to pursue graduate course work at PSU. She learned her best friend was interested in taking graduate coursework, with the goal of completing a master’s in health education. Prasch convinced her friend to take a class with her. It would be Prasch’s last class, and her friend’s first. Prasch remarked, “The intimidation factor as an adult student can be paralyzing.” With her “just say yes” infectious attitude and with her support, Prasch’s friend is “now on her way!”
When asked if there was anything she wanted to add, Prasch responded, “if there is any message to take away (from reading this), it is that the best investment you can make is in yourself. Grad school is fun; people are motivated and want to be there. Each interaction is more inspiring than the last, and each interaction connects to another. I’m seriously thinking of completing a certificate of advanced graduate study (CAGS).”
Just say yes!