Finding 9: Tracking Down a First Graduating Class

Posted by on April 17, 2013

The Minnesota School of Business-Plymouth campus will be celebrating the 10th anniversary of its first graduating class this June. Appropriately, the campus will be holding the graduation ceremony at the same location (Plymouth Creek Center) and feature the same keynote speaker (Plymouth City Council member Judy Johnson) as the inaugural commencement ceremony. Campus Community Manager Matt Marek is tracking down all nine members—all from the massage therapy program—of that first graduating class to tell their stories, and catch up with this trailblazing group of graduates.

massage therapy program

This blurry photo of seven graduates from our nine-member, first graduating class is the only picture that turned up on our campus.

“An anniversary is a time to celebrate the joys of today, the memories of yesterday, and the hopes of tomorrow.”

I saw this quote when I was starting to formulate the plan for this series of blog posts. It’s hard to believe we’ve been here at 1455 County Road 101 North in Plymouth for 10 years now. Ultimately, anniversaries are an ideal time to reflect, celebrate and ponder what the future may hold.

Thankfully, we are a “young” school in the academic sense. Tracking down a 50th anniversary class may have been a bit more challenging. With that fact working in my favor, my job has been made a lot easier with what I like to call “The Ol’ Google Machine” and social media sites.

As you read in the introduction, I have strapped on my investigative journalist shoes, and am trying to find the nine members of our first graduation class. They are all female, and all diploma holders from the massage therapy program. Those nine are:

  • Patricia Baune
  • Jennifer Buehl
  • Amanda Herrick
  • Denise Laho
  • Sheila Pippo
  • Kati Raisanen-Ylitalo
  • Jennifer Rotondo
  • Krista Smith
  • Amanda Steuven

massage therapy program

Obviously, our contact with students after graduation is limited, and our campus management system doesn’t include student information on June 2003 graduates. We are usually left in the dark on marriages, name changes, relocations and other life events, so, to The Dungeon (aka file storage) I went.

Trips to The Dungeon can turn into interesting adventures, each worthy of their own stories. “I often tell people to send a search party if I’m not back in 20 minutes,” our online coordinator Rachel Tomala told me.


Luckily, she accompanied me on my first research assignment to the files. Like I said, our files are a little hit-and-miss from the early years, so I could only come up with four of the nine graduates I was looking for.  Still, not a bad start. (I will tell you, I have tracked down the first member of the group, and will be bringing you her story within the next couple of days. I am withholding her name, so you will have to check back in the next couple of days to find out who it is!)

My second stop has been the internet. I don’t know who created it, but he or she has a free drink with their name on it, courtesy of yours truly, if we ever meet. As I write this, I can tell you three more names are checked off my list. The challenging part will be my final two—no academic files and no online profiles or presence (that I can find).

My final resource has been the lone employee-holdover from the opening of our campus. Brenda Rhines, a financial aid administrator, has been with us at the Plymouth campus since its inception and with our schools for 34 years. She provided me with this beautiful shot of her and our current Property Manager Mike Myhre (looking good, Brenda!).

massage therapy programUltimately, I hope this series will give you a glimpse of the people that started this campus, and give everybody a little bit of context on where we came from and the people that helped us get to where we are today. Additionally, if you have any information, or know where I can reach any of the students listed above, don’t hesitate to contact me at Finally, keep checking our blog for updates on my travels and journey to our 10th anniversary celebration!

Thank you for your Interest in Minnesota School of Business.