Diane Willson finds a path from farming to her reflexology practice
The degree Diane Willson is now pursuing wasn’t available when she first looked at colleges as a senior in high school. She counts the options she had back then on one hand. “The choices in my generation were: to be a nurse, a teacher, a secretary, or go to college to find your guy, who will then support you.”
Now as she reflects on her working life, she says the path she took brought her to a much better place, even if it greatly disappointed her mother all those years ago.
Diane’s mother desperately wanted her daughter to attend college. She took a rare day off to take Diane to visit Champlain College. But Diane had other plans and spent 27 years running a farm with her husband, raising their children and then she worked as a machinist for eight years.
Eventually Diane decided she had enough of factory work. She says she finally realized she had been practicing alternative therapies her entire life and it became her passion. She made a bold decision to quit the factory job and enrolled at a massage school 9 years ago.
“I’m a very late bloomer,” Diane jokes.
She now runs her own reflexology practice, but she’s not done with school. Diane is pursuing a self-designed professional studies degree with a focus on wellness and alternative medicine. The classes on her roster, such as the Psychophysiology of Stress, will all help her better serve her clients, she says.
“When I come to work every day, I’m not working. I just love it so much,” Diane says. “I feel my purpose is to help others, and this is the way I’m supposed to be helping others.”
She fits school into her schedule by taking online classes or intensive courses that take about seven weeks.
When she returned to school, Diane said she didn’t think VSAC could help her. She didn’t think VSAC could help an older student who owned property and had been saving for retirement. Her VSAC EOC counselor encouraged her to apply for assistance.
Diane, like many, says the help she got from VSAC goes beyond financial.
“It’s just made a world of difference,” Diane says. She calls her VSAC EOC counselor “a gift and a blessing” and tears up when she tells the story of earning a scholarship that her counselor surreptitiously nominated her for.
“I feel so incredibly supported and encouraged,” Diane says.