Massage Therapy’s Silent Seven Headed to the Workforce

The latest cohort of Rock Valley College and Bodycraft Wellness Massage Therapy students celebrated graduation at a small, on-campus ceremony. They call themselves the ‘Silent Seven’ for their timid nature at the start of their training. Still soft-spoken, these classmates reflected on their journey through massage therapy education, highlighting personal growth in self-belief, trust, and support.

three massage therapy grads stand with their panted palms ofacing the camera

The Traditional Handprint Tree is a rite of passage for all massage therapy graduates

The cohort of graduates include:

  • Zander B. Blomquist
  • Russell E. Carroll
  • Bolortuya (Tia) Ganbat
  • Jessica L. Heiderscheit
  • Carrie A. Nims
  • Nicolas Y. Waasdorp
  • Mary Anne M. Watson

Student speaker Russell Carroll (pictured at center) shared his personal growth journey, overcoming self-doubt with the help of friends, family, and instructors. Adorned in his family’s tartan in memory of his mother, Carroll told the crowd this would have been her birthday and that she was one who always believed in him. And now, he adds to the list of believers his classmates.

“We helped each other in ways we might not even realize, helping reduce our anxieties and improve our overall feeling of acceptance. This is something we could not learn from any textbook. Through this program, I have found an even better version of myself, and I am eternally grateful,” said Carroll in his address to his classmates.

After the ceremony, all graduates add their handprints to the Traditional Handprint Tree. This was a special moment for the graduates as the canvas holds the handprints of every cohort that has completed the program since its inception in 2015.

The Traditional Handprint Tree canvas symbolizes

  • Unity and Connection in the massage community.
  • Growth and Development of our massage training program.
  • Healing and Care in our professional.
  • The Legacy and Tradition within our program for the last ten years.
  • Celebration and Achievement on this special day.

Program Director Jamie Fanara was emotional when she addressed the graduates. Each cohort of students is unique, contributing to the longevity and legacy of the program.

As for this cohort’s legacy, she concluded, “You have taught me the importance of random acts of kindness, and I think we can all use a little bit more of that.”

The graduates are now ready to enter the workforce as licensed massage therapists and join the network of Rock Valley College Alumni.

Learn more about the RVC and Bodycraft Wellness Massage Therapy Program at