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Tiffany Clarkin

Many have learned massage skills from Clarkin

Many of the area’s licensed massage therapists gained their skills and knowledge at RCC and a large number of them studied with Tiffany Clarkin, now in her sixteenth year of teaching and leading RCC’s Massage Therapy program.

“Teaching students about the body and how everything is interconnected is wonderful,” said Clarkin, the department chair. “It is very rewarding to be in a career where you make people feel better.”

RCC graduate Laura Guerrero found the program made a perfect match for her interests and goals.

“I can’t say enough about Tiffany Clarkin. She’s so knowledgeable,” Guerrero said. “She provides a welcoming atmosphere, balances the needs of 32 different people ages 18-60, and helps everyone stay on track,” Guerrero explained. “She saw potential in me and encouraged me to continue.”

Before joining RCC’s faculty, Clarkin was a licensed massage therapist. She earned a bachelor’s in biology with a human emphasis from California State University, Hayward, and a certificate in massage therapy from the McKinnon Institute of Massage Therapy. Clarkin also earned a physical therapy aide certificate.

“I love it when the students’ eyes light up as they share their experiences of helping others with massage therapy,” Clarkin added.

Missy Nystrom

Nystrom helps students understand the world

RCC science instructor Missy Nystrom describes herself as a “true believer” in the value of a community college education.

Having graduated from a community college, she feels there are many unique opportunities a college such as RCC can offer.

“Many seeds are planted with the first taste of college, especially in introductory courses,” Nystrom said. “Interest and excitement of particular subject matter can either be sparked or extinguished, and I feel the first two years are some of the most crucial in one’s collegiate journey. I feel great responsibility every time I step into the classroom,” she added.

RCC student Brianna Guerrero, who appreciates Nystrom’s dedication to students and science, considers her a mentor. “Missy Nystrom inspires me,” said Guerrero, who is intent on pursuing a career in science. “She loves her subject and she’s encouraged me to keep going.”

Before joining Rogue’s faculty seven years ago, Nystrom was completing her master’s in biological science at the University of Rhode Island. While in graduate school, she worked as a teaching assistant at URI and was an adjunct biology instructor at the Community College of Rhode Island. She did environmental outreach with children for an organization called Save the Bay, and was a naturalist on a glass-bottom boat exploring the salt ponds and marshes in Narragansett Bay.  

She holds an associate degree in math and science from Jamestown Community College, and a bachelor’s in biology with a minor in environmental studies, from Geneseo State University of New York. In addition to teaching RCC science classes, she serves as advisor to the Environmental Sustainability Club and is proud of the students’ efforts to increase public awareness of the environment.

"My goal is to not only prepare my students for their future endeavors of nursing or medical school, or fieldwork and research, but to help them understand the world around them and inside them," Nystrom said .

Attending RCC a family affair for mother and daughter

Laura and Brianna Guerrero light up with excitement as they talk about their shared learning experience at Rogue Community College.

While pursuing different goals, the mother and daughter attended RCC simultaneously, took the same oceanography class, and enjoyed studying and learning together.

“For me education is taking a spark – something in your life you’re interested in – and being able to study and learn more about it so that you can take that out in the world and work at something you enjoy doing,” said Laura Guerrero, who graduated in June 2010 with a massage therapy degree. Now she’s a therapist with a local hospice and is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in psychology and sociology at Southern Oregon University.

“Being a massage therapist for hospice has brought meaning to my life,” she said. “To be able to provide that for someone when they are in the last part of their life on this earth is just a wonderful thing.”

Child rearing interrupted Laura’s college education, and while she feels fortunate to have been a full-time mom for 18 years, she always wanted to return to school.

“The Massage Therapy program at RCC was a perfect fit,” she said. “I can’t say enough about Tiffany Clarkin (RCC Massage Therapy Department chair). She’s so knowledgeable. She saw potential in me and encouraged me to continue.”

Two sociology classes, multicultural and gender studies, taught by RCC’s Erika Giesen, also helped Laura get a sense of direction and prepared her for transfer to SOU. And while she loves hospice work and the patients, “I also enjoy research and analysis,” she said. “So I’m not sure where my degree will take me, but it’s exciting,” she said.

For Laura’s daughter Brianna, RCC was challenging because she started attending at age 16 after having been homeschooled her whole life.

“That took some getting used to, but having my mom here helped me get oriented and all the instructors and advisors are wonderful,” she said. Now 19, Brianna plans to transfer next year to Oregon State University to study endangered species conservation.

Like her mother, Brianna enrolled in TRiO Student Support Services, a program in which she received tutoring and university transfer advising. Both women also have been RCC student workers: Brianna for Human Resources and Laura with the Massage Therapy Department. And just as Tiffany Clarkin counseled Laura, RCC Science instructor Missy Nystrom has mentored Brianna.

“Missy Nystrom inspires me. She loves her subject and has encouraged me to keep going,” Brianna said.

By June Brianna plans to complete her pre-requisites for transfer to OSU where her goal is to study endangered species conservation.
“I’ve always been interested in ecosystems and how they fit together so perfectly,” she explained. “My first love was sea turtles, and then I learned they’re endangered and what that means. I’m interested in how ecosystems work and how to conserve ecospheres.”

RCC is a family affair for the Guerreros. Oldest daughter, Emily, also began attending RCC at age 16 and is now enrolled at Simon Fraser University in British Columbia. The youngest Guerrero daughter, Kate, is considering RCC after she graduates in June from Grants Pass High School.

Have a story idea for the website? Please E-mail Rand Hill