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You're in Good Hands

This NCC massage therapy grad has got your back

by Katherine Noll; photos by Adam Atkinson,

Victoria Canavan '15 at Great Wolf Lodge's Elements Spa
Is there anything better than having someone work out the stress in your muscles, leaving you completely relaxed? According to Victoria Canavan '15, there is -- being the person who makes it happen!

"I love watching my clients come out of the room after a massage. Before, they were stressed, tensed and sore. Afterwards, I can see the relief I brought them. They're relaxed and happy," Canavan said.

The desire to help people coupled with a love of science inspired Canavan to apply for Northampton Community College's massage therapy program.

"I've always loved science. Even in middle school I was the first one to jump into dissecting worms and frogs," Canavan shared. "And I always knew I wanted to work in the health field in order to help people. It just took a while to decide which path I wanted to follow."

After graduating from Bloomsburg University with a bachelor's of science in health sciences and a minor in psychology, she had her first professional massage. People sometimes joke that a massage is a life-changing experience. For Canavan, it actually was. Not only did the massage relieve stress in muscles she didn't even realize were tense, the therapist's enthusiasm for her job was inspiring. "She shared with me how much she loved helping people relax," Canavan said.

Something clicked. The very next day she began researching massage schools. NCC was on the list, as Canavan's mother works at the College.Victoria Canavan '15  

"I knew NCC had a great reputation in the community, plus the program seemed more thorough than some of the others I considered," she said.

After being accepted into the competitive program, classes began and Canavan, along with the other students, were taught anatomy and physiology, kinesiology, business, and of course, massage techniques. Luckily, she had a furry friend to help with that part of her homework.

"I would go home and practice on my dog, Zaya. She loves it so much that to this day when I ask her if she wants a massage she jumps up onto the table," she said.

Working on fellow students, however, took some time to get used to. 

"Everyone was a little nervous at first about giving each other massages, but it was also very relaxing getting massages once or twice a week. It made getting up for an 8 a.m. class so much easier!" Canavan shared with a laugh.

She completed the program in the summer of 2015 and immediately began studying for the Massage and Bodyworking Licensing Examination (MBLEX). She passed on the first attempt. 

"The exam was difficult but I believe the NCC program had me well-prepared for it.  The instructor, Sallie Urffer, was a fantastic teacher who taught at the students' pace. Not only is she very skilled and knowledgeable, but her critiques were always done in a positive way. She also brought in other massage therapists to teach us more about their specialties, like sports massage, hot stone, and energy work," said Canavan.

After passing the exam, she began a job search. A Career Fair at the Monroe Campus landed a lead which turned into her first job as a massage therapist. Now she works as a licensed massage therapist at Great Wolf Lodge, an indoor water park and hotel in the Pocono Mountains. She offers five different types of massage:  aromatherapy, organic, therapeutic, maternity, and a signature foot massage. 

"Working at Great Wolf Lodge has been a great experience. Inside the spa it's quiet, calm and relaxing but when I leave it turns into a loud, exciting and fun place with kids and families having a great time and making memories. I spend most of my day in the tranquility of the spa but I love that I have the opportunity to walk around the lodge and see all these happy families."

Surrounded by smiling, relaxed faces, this NCC grad couldn't be happier!

NCC's massage therapy program began in 2013. The program, which focuses on whole body wellness, integrates theory with hands-on training to prepare students for careers as professional massage therapists. Graduates are prepared for employment opportunities in hospitals, rehabilitation centers, medical offices, spas, health clubs, and private practice.