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Headshots of two females

The Difference Massage Student Scholarships Make

By Danielle Galian, Editor
November 1, 2021

The Difference Massage Student Scholarships Make

By Danielle Galian, Editor
November 1, 2021

For massage therapists just starting out, scholarships help provide more opportunities to advance and grow in the profession with financial stability that offers peace of mind. Scholarships have another impact, too—they help provide a deeper connection to community.

Past and present massage therapy student scholarship winners reflect on their individual journeys that both brought them to the massage profession and helped them to plan for their futures.

Massage Therapy Student Scholarships Provide Valuable Support

Thais Rebecca (Chaya-Ryvka) Diehl, LMT, began her massage therapy career in the mid-90s while living and working in California. What most people don’t know is her interest in the profession began much earlier. “I always joke that I was born into the massage therapy profession,” she says. “I would massage my mom’s neck and shoulders as a young kid. From then on, I always knew I would somehow become a massage therapist one day helping people.”

Diehl is the winner of the 2021 Rick Boden Healer at Heart $10,000 Scholarship and currently attends the National Holistic Institute (NHI) Emeryville Massage School in Emeryville, CA. She’s expected to graduate in the first quarter of 2022 and plans to start working with a local chiropractor supporting client rehabilitation.

“I’m humbled and grateful to be the recipient of this scholarship, to have had the opportunity to go back to school in the first place,” she explains. “Working with bodies and souls through ethical and therapeutic touch is an innate part of who I am, and integral to what I have to offer in this world. Winning this scholarship feels like the universe is saying ‘YES, keep going, you’re on your path, you got this!’”

Chelsea Vanderbeek, LMT, is the winner of the 2021 AMTA $5,000 Student Scholarship and will graduate from National Holistic Institute in Santa Ana, CA, in January 2022. However, her path to massage therapy started off on the wrong foot … literally.

Vanderbeek endured four major knee surgeries and was living with fibromyalgia when she found a massage therapist who could help her. “I was unable to live a full life while in college,” she explains. “I met a friend who was a massage therapist and who offered to help. Seeing her on a regular basis at the time really changed my life and I was able to go to work and go to school without being in pain.”

Being a naturally interested and curious client, Vanderbeek would ask a lot of questions and eventually found herself massaging friends and family who needed some pain relief using techniques she learned from her massage therapist. After meeting and working with her mentor, who is a massage therapist for the Anaheim Angels baseball team, Vanderbeek decided to officially enroll in massage therapy school and begin her career as a massage therapist.

“The biggest takeaway I’ve had since winning the scholarship is what a small community massage therapy is, and how determined massage therapists are to help one another,” explains Vanderbeek.

Big Plans: How Massage Scholarships Help Students Plan for the Future

Diehl is excited and grateful to have the chance at financially supporting her massage therapy profession dreams. “Having the money to pay for school or funds to start a private practice is truly mind-blowing,” she says. “And, knowing that the scholarship team saw something in me, believed in me, felt moved by my story, gives me strength and motivation to move forward in my career and overall learning process. It’s like a flame in my heart fueling me to succeed and serve.”

For Vanderbeek, the opportunity to pursue her plans of practicing lymphatic massage combined with trigger point and myofascial release techniques will soon become a reality. “Winning the 2021 AMTA Scholarship has been a huge blessing for me and my family,” says Vanderbeek. “I’ve wanted to be a massage therapist for years but couldn’t enroll until Jan 2021. Earning the AMTA Bob King scholarship meant that I am closer to pursuing my dream of becoming a massage therapist who helps athletes, those with chronic illnesses or major injuries.”

Advice for Massage Scholarship Applicants

The AMTA Scholarship program was created to help foster the development of new massage therapists and has, to date, awarded almost $250,000 in scholarships to massage therapy students. With the overwhelming response to the initial program AMTA expanded the program to offer scholarships year-round to ensure that students always have the opportunity to apply for one at sometime during their education.

Students participate in the program by submitting a brief essay around their future in the massage therapy profession, an exercise Diehl found particularly meaningful.

“I applied for three different scholarships all together,” remembers Diehl. “The question that I was responding to for the scholarship I won meant a lot to me and I spent a long time working on an impassioned response. I really poured my heart out, and then edited it down for days before finally sending it in.”

Diehl advises answering scholarship questions in a way that makes a positive connection with the reader. “Really take your time, make your response meaningful and authentic, meditate on it and read it over and over until you feel a nice warm ‘yes’ in your belly,” she explains. “Then send it in and let it go. What will be, will be. I was blown away when the call came in that I had won.”

“The advice I have for those considering going into massage therapy, or those who already in the profession, is to be excited and passionate about what we do,” says Vanderbeek. “Seek to constantly learn from massage therapists or even those in other related professions, and seek to better yourself so you can serve your clients better. Love your work!”

Get More Information on AMTA's Scholarship Programs:

Learn more about the AMTA scholarships available, as well as how to apply

Meet other scholarship winners!