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Sep 20, 2021

Staff Spotlight | NHI Graduate and Studio City Campus Manager April Villareal Pursues Her Passion for Massage Therapy

April Villareal, NHI Graduate and Studio City Campus Manager

April Villareal, NHI Graduate and Studio City Campus Manager

In honor of National Hispanic Heritage Month, our Staff Spotlight focuses on April Villareal. April is a graduate of NHI’s Core Massage Therapy and Advanced Neuromuscular Therapy (ANMT) Programs and now serves as the Studio City Campus Manager at National Holistic Institute.

Growing up as a Mexican from Texas, April was introduced to many home remedies for health and wellness. Massage Therapy, however, was not a big part of April’s culture and it wasn’t until her first day as a NHI student when she received a massage. Since then, April has shared the benefits of massage therapy with her family in Texas who now seek massage for their health. Continue reading as April tells her tale of the pursuit of her passion, massage therapy.

When I told my mentor at NHI 13 years ago that I would be a teacher at NHI one day I couldn’t imagine where I would be now.

Time to Make Things Happen for Me

I moved to Los Angeles, California from Texas at age 22 with a Bachelor in Fine Arts and a dream of being in movies. I always loved entertaining people and I truly believe laughter is what connects us all. At age 22, moving to LA with $600 in my pocket and transferring to a retail job was all I had at the time. Along with acting, my other passion was massage. I used to massage my mom after her workouts and would massage the athletes in high school. Soon after moving to LA I visited a massage school but it wasn’t the right place or time for me. At age 25 after working in retail for 8 years and working on a movie studio I decided movies and retail were not for me. I had a quarter life crises and didn’t know where I was supposed to be. Then I realized I was ONLY 25 years old and I still had so much time to make things happen for me.

I was Meant to get My Education From NHI

As I reflected, I realized that one of my passions was still massage so I went and visited 3 massage schools. Remember, when I visited schools 3 years before, the reason it wasn’t right for me is that NHI hadn’t opened their Encino campus yet. In 2007 that is when NHI moved to SoCal and that is when I started looking again at schools. To say I was meant to get my education from NHI is an understatement.

NHI was the one school that was professional and welcoming when I toured the campus. While working full time at Warner Bros. studios I was attending evening classes and doing my externship on the weekend. I had so much fun at school and my mentors were knowledgeable and funny (reminder, I love laughter). I became a tutor in my senior term and I really enjoyed being a part of someone’s journey and finding ways to get them to understand the material. It was around this time I mentioned I would want to teach at NHI one day. After graduating and getting certified I stayed on at my externship site and turned it into an opportunity to start my own practice.

April Villareal teaching Chair Massage techniques

April Villareal teaching Chair Massage techniques

I Love the Connection and Passion for Massage

In 2011, I left my full time job and worked my private practice full time. I was able to become a Teacher Assistant in 2011 as well and it felt so good to be a part of NHI again. To be honest I never really left though, I would go to the clinics and teachers would reach out to me for events or private clients. But now I got to see behind the scenes and the instructors were so kind and open to sharing their experiences.

In 2013, I applied for a teacher position and to be honest, it was nerve wrecking. I had to do a presentation in front of the people who taught me and I wanted to make them proud. It must have worked because I got hired part-time which was perfect because I still had my private practice and had a pretty steady clientele. I have had the opportunity to be in the Student Services Department, to be a mentor and then in 2018 I was promoted to Associate Campus Manager. I love the connection and passion for massage that is built through the entire company. We care about the massage industry and about each one of our students who are going to be a part of the industry.

NHI Encourages the Growth of Their Employees

One thing I was not able to do was take the ANMT Program because it had not part of the program when I was a student and then when I tried to sign up in 2010 my full time job would not let me take the program. It wasn’t until 2019 when we had our evening program that I was able to work out my schedule with NHI to complete that program. I am forever grateful that NHI encourages the growth of their employees and that I got to take this amazing program. Completing ANMT has helped me tremendously with teaching and providing client needs at my private practice. I cannot stress enough that this work will have you stand above many other therapists and there is no other program like it. Having my private practice at a Chiropractic Office with this knowledge, I was able to continue massage during the pandemic.

Everyday I Learn From My Students

I have had a fantastic journey at NHI and still able to maintain my private practice. I have now been a massage therapist for 13 years and I still love doing massage and have been teaching for 8 years and everyday I learn from my students.

“It’s never too late to start your new journey and there will always be an excuse not to start but do it anyway. ‘Change a problem to a challenge to make it an opportunity.'”

Now in 2021 I have been promoted to Campus Manager of the Studio City Campus and I am honored to lead the great team we have and to continue to see students grow and learn about the massage industry. Let me finish by saying thank you to all my mentors, managers and the 25 year old me who made the best decision to sign up at NHI!

Get the details on how you can pursue a career in massage therapy with National Holistic Institute. Complete this form to connect with an admissions representative today.