The Minnesota School of Business-Plymouth (MSB) 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 of that first graduating class to tell their stories, and catch up with this trailblazing group of graduates.It’s pretty easy to find somebody when they come knocking at your door. No road trip was necessary as the latest student from my Finding 9 series came back to the Minnesota School of Business-Plymouth campus recently.
Nowadays, massage therapist Katie Raisanen-Ylitalo has her hands full (pardon the pun). I imagine most people that seek out massage therapy training expect it in a professional sense, but with four children under the age of six, it takes on new meaning for her.
“I love being a mom,” Katie told me. “I’m actually the second oldest of 11,” she added.
“So, are you going to have, what…about five more kids?” I asked jokingly.
“We haven’t really put a number on it,” she said.
You, Katie, are a saint.
Sainthood, from a parental sense, requires a lot of time in the home. Fortunately for those with massage therapy training, working from the confines of your home is a very common and viable option.
Katie has been married for 10 years now (she married her husband Nate in February 2003). For the better part of the last seven years, she has been raising her four kids – Sawyer (6), Claudia (4), Jillian (2) and Cullen (14 weeks) – and massaging out of her home near Albertville, Minn.
“Massage is great for a stay-at-home mom,” Katie said. “It’s different for me every week. One week, I may do one [massage], another week I may do five…The flexibility is perfect, but [it’s reassuring that] I know I could be busier, and if I ever wanted to get a job at a clinic, I know I could do that, too.”
A lot of massage therapy grads I’ve talked to have a strong interest in the medical field. Katie’s career path started in similar fashion.
“My whole life I thought I was going to be a nurse,” she told me. “I took postsecondary classes during my senior year of high school and found out how much chemistry and biology I would need. The sciences did not interest me at all, but I still had interest in something in the medical field where I could help people, so I took the massage route.”
She added, “Plus, I’m the one that gets an IV in like this,” she said with a cringe and a head tilt.
The opening of the Plymouth campus, like many schools and businesses, had its kinks. For example, classes started in alternate locations before the actual opening of our current building.
“I remember starting in a building by Schmidt Lake Road and Cheshire Lane [in Plymouth],” Katie recalled. “We were also in the church [Messiah United Methodist] for a few classes. It was all so new, we felt a bit like guinea pigs, but we had fun together.”
Eventually classes settled in at the current campus location in the Plymouth Plaza building. Several of Katie’s classmates, including Denise Laho (who will be featured in an upcoming “Finding 9” blog post), had apartments in the complex right next door to the campus.
“I actually went to school with Denise at Rockford High School so I was excited when I found out she was coming here,” Katie said. “We all had the same friends, and they would walk to class from those apartments every day.”
“Do you still talk to Denise?” I asked.
“Well, she lives in Canada now…she was in town a few weeks ago.”
(Note: I will not be making the trip to Canada for that interview!).
Overall, Katie’s experience at MSB was memorable.
“We had fun…the whole experience was laid back,” she said. “The atmosphere in the massage room is a whole lot different, and you get to be very close with people.”
Ultimately, family and relationships are what life is all about. Fortunately for Katie, she has plenty of both.