Q. Where are you from, and how did you first hear about Shenandoah University?
I am from the small town of Kilmarnock, Virginia, with a population of less than 1,500 people. I first heard about Shenandoah University after receiving a letter showing interest in me becoming a part of SU’s football program.
Coming into Shenandoah University I was going to originally major in physical therapy, due to some misguidance when I was in the eighth grade (13 years old). My teacher at the time tasked us all with a project where we were to create a report on what type of career we wanted to have once we became adults. I wrote about becoming a massage therapist. I did all of the research and put my everything into that report from the five-year plan all the way down to the how I would market to my clients. In the end I received a D- and when I asked my teacher why she felt that I deserved that grade, she told that I hadn’t taken the project seriously and felt my interest wasn’t valid. Her response to my dream caused me question my ability to make my dream come true and shifted to a “real career” in physical therapy. A week into Shenandoah University I decided to no longer allow that eighth-grade teacher to direct my life and changed my major to business. Since classes had already begun, most of the electives were already filled and I was told there was only an opening in a women’s studies (WS) class. I truly enjoyed the course and each time I needed an elective I selected women’s studies. By senior year, I had so many credits in WS I was told if I took one more course I could declare it as a minor. I also figured it would do me a lot of good in the massage industry and everyday life. I became fascinated by entrepreneurship after someone once told me, “You have two choices when it comes to dreams. You’re either going build your dream or get a job and help someone else build theirs.” I started to realize that the only difference between the boss of the company and the people of that company is that the boss made a decision to be a boss and do whatever it took to get them there and everyone decided something else. Either way I understood that where I end up will be based on the decisions that I make.
Q. How did your experience at Shenandoah University– either in a class or as a project — help to prepare you for starting, owning and managing your business:
For me, I don’t feel like there was one class or project that helped me towards starting my business. For me, Shenandoah University helped form my mindset. Coming from a small town I only truly knew what was around me. I understood that there was more to the world than what I saw but it’s very hard to imitate something that you have never seen. Winchester isn’t the largest place to live but coming to SU showed me that I could do more and that the world had more to offer than what I grew up seeing. I never wanted to become a product of my environment; I saw what that had done to those before me and wanted more for myself.
Q. Did you have a favorite faculty member? Who and why?
Dr. Miles Davis. Dr. Davis was my advisor once I changed my major and he was the first male role model I had in my life. Dr. Davis was the fuel I needed to ignite the entrepreneur within myself. Honestly, it was the first time I saw someone with a similar background as myself in a position that matched my definition of success. It wasn’t the money or the car he drove – it was the way he carried himself and the respect he got from everyone on campus before he ever became the dean of the business school. When I brought my idea of opening my own spa to Dr. Davis, I didn’t receive the criticism I received from that eighth-grade teacher years ago. I received encouragement, structure, and a challenge of how was I going to make it happen. The part that I am most grateful for in all of this is that this conversation didn’t happen within the classroom. He took time from his own personal life to meet with a kid at Five Guys (I told him I’d treat him to lunch and that’s the best I could do at the time) to speak about making his dream come true. Dr. Davis invested his time in me and I promised myself that he would see a return on his investment.
Q. What position did you play on the football team?
Coming to Shenandoah University I played cornerback. I didn’t finish my four years playing football because I realized my passion for football wasn’t as strong as my passion to be successful. Instead of going to football practice I was practicing my networking skills. Instead of learning new plays, I was learning the top 15 ways most businesses fail. I quickly learned that football was a tool to get me to college and college wasn’t a tool to allow me to play football. My talent allowed me to get out of the environment that I grew up in, but I knew that my talent on the field wasn’t going to be the tool to take me to the next level of where I wanted to be.
Q. Tell us about your business and how it combines your interests, skills and education:
My business name is In His Hands Massage Therapy. We are a total wellness boutique that offers a holistic approach to health and wellness needs. Our services, classes, and products all cater to the individual, and are customized for optimal results. Our goal is to make sure our clients prioritize their self-care and are living life to full capacity.
Q. Where is your business located? How many people to have employed?
We are located at 617 Main St. in Laurel, Maryland. We currently have five employees outside of us three owners. Prior to this location our business was 100% mobile. We still offer the mobile service as well, which gives our clients options.