Massage Therapies student Grace Sajonia in SCG’s Hair & Beauty Training Academy

Grace Sajonia, 42, has achieved a place at Bangor University to study Physiotherapy after a part-time Massage Therapies course at SCG inspired her to return to education.

Grace moved to the UK several years ago from the Philippines where she worked in physiotherapy. However, she hasn’t been able to practice since moving countries because, in order to work as a physiotherapist in the UK, she would need to retrain and complete a university degree.

Instead, Grace has spent the past few years working in nursing for the NHS, which she found challenging during the pandemic.

“I needed to get my mind off things. So, I thought, why don’t do I some studying?” she said. “I need to do something for myself that’s different from working, going home and looking after my family.”

She discovered that she could study for a part-time qualification in Massage Therapies in her local area at Shrewsbury Colleges Group, which she thought would be a fun way to revisit part of her physiotherapy skillset while also learning something new.

Grace explained: “I took the plunge and enrolled myself last September. At first, it was really scary to go back to college after twenty years, but I really have enjoyed it a lot. I’m going to miss being at college every Thursday.”

Grace was pleased to find herself part of a friendly and supportive Massage Therapies group that included students of all ages.

The course broadened Grace’s horizons, enabling her to build on her massage skills. “I’ve learned a lot. Before, I only knew clinical massage because of being a physio and now there’s a variety of different massages that I can offer, including aromatherapy and stones, which is amazing.”

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The Massage Therapies studio at Shrewsbury Colleges Group.

Rediscovering her skill for massage and overcoming her worries about returning to education inspired Grace to apply to study physiotherapy at university.

“Doing this course has really helped me to prepare and get my confidence back,” she said.  “The college has helped me apply to study physiotherapy at university through UCAS and I feel like I’ll be ready to take on degree-level study by September.”

Although she never intended for her part-time study to lead to a university course, Grace described how her Massage Therapies qualification turned out to be essential to the application process: “When I went to the interview for university, they asked me if I’ve been in education in the last five years because that’s one of the requirements. I was able to proudly say that yes, I’m taking holistic massage therapy at Shrewsbury Colleges Group, and we even study anatomy and physiology, which has refreshed my mind ready for this degree course.”

She has since won a sought-after place on Bangor University’s Physiotherapy degree course, which she will begin studying this September.

Her Massage Therapies tutor, Mel Pountney, said: “Grace was up against a significant number of other applicants for the physiotherapy course, and we are very proud that she was successful in achieving an offer to attend university.”

While her long-term plan is to move back into physiotherapy, Grace also mentioned that, while she’s at university, she is hoping to put her new skills to use by opening her own therapeutic massage business.

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