Massage Therapy Career Fair Brings Students and Employers Together


Our Massage Therapy program recently hosted a Career Fair at MRU, bringing together students, graduates and prospective employers, as well as industry association representatives.

It was a great opportunity for students and grads to learn what employers are looking for and find clinics that fit with their career goals. Employers in massage clinics, spas and multi-disciplinary practices were able to find qualified employees — both now and in the future.

We asked the students how the program is going so far and what they thought about their career prospects in the industry.

Olya Shibeico


“It’s a lot of work but it’s definitely very interesting. I feel like you learn a lot more than you would expect a massage therapist to know.”
– Olya Shibeico, first-year student


Mike Ehrman, Tyler Stotz, Rocco Cambarera


“Our career prospects are good, especially if you continue to do things like this. The career fair is bigger than it was last year…Being able to do the program full-time at first and scale it back to part-time when I needed it to fit my lifestyle is great. The program offers the transfer to the Okanagan [Thomson Rivers University Bachelor of Health Science], that’s another thing that interests me.”
– Mike Ehrman, first-year student

“I enjoy the work in the sense that you learn in-depth about all the muscles, palpations and the foundations of anatomy. The professors are all very knowledgeable and helpful, so my first semester has been great.”
– Tyler Stotz, first-year student

“Three times a week, free massages? That was awesome! It’s a lot of practical stuff, which is good.”
– Rocco Cambarera, first-year student

Tara Miguel
Tara Miguel

“I really enjoy this program. I’ve actually taken it in a different college and Mount Royal is so much better. The teachers here are very knowledgeable and the curriculum is so much better. I find that I’m a way better therapist now than I was before.”
– Tara Miguel, second-year student



We asked the massage therapy businesses why they choose to hire therapists trained at MRU.

IMG_4682_e“The program has brought out a lot of really good therapists and I feel like I was a very strong therapist coming out of it. I’m also an instructor with the program and help with outreach program.”
– Clarissa McAndrews, Leela Eco Spa & Studio and MRU Massage Therapy graduate


Kayla Bancroft and the team from Massage Heights
Kayla Bancroft and the team from Massage Heights

“I think that the curriculum and quality of instruction and the overall reputation of Mount Royal make it one of the best schools in Alberta. We have graduates and current second-year students working for our company and they’re exceptional. The skill set that they come with and their professionalism is great.”
– Karla Bancroft, Massage Heights


“We have 103 clinics across Canada, 8 in Calgary and 3 in Edmonton. There are lots of job opportunities. All of our clinics are multi-disciplinary: PT, massage therapy and chiropractic. We’ve hired lots of Mount Royal grads, particularly if they are suitable for a therapeutic environment.”
– Jonathan Reimer, ptHealth


IMG_4709_edit“RMTA has three levels of membership: student (first year of study), associate (second year) and full (2200-hour). Starting in their second year, students can charge for treatments, and they want to be sure they have liability insurance and general insurance, which we offer at a low yearly cost. We look at providing students with that security. My strong feeling is, the more massage you can do while you are a student, the more prepared you are for when you are out practicing.”
– Roy Smith, Remedial Massage Therapists Association

These are the massage therapy employers and associations who joined us at this special event:

  • Holistic Institute of Health and Fertility
  • Leela Eco Spa & Studio
  • Optimum Wellness Centres
  • Anna’s Spa & Wellness
  • Stillwater Spa (at Hyatt Regency Calgary)
  • Balanced Health and Sports Therapy
  • 430 Wellness
  • The Oasis Wellness Centre and Spa
  • pt Healthcare Solutions
  • Inspired Minds Wellness Centre
  • Neal’s Yard Remedies
  • Northgate Chiropractic and Massage Therapy
  • Massage for Health Clinic Inc.
  • Fifth Avenue Club
  • Westside Chiropractic Sports & Dance Therapy Centre
  • Airdrie Chiropractic and Massage
  • Remedial Massage Therapists Association
  • Inspire Centre for Massage and Wellness
  • Willow Stream Spa – Fairmont Banff Springs
  • Fruition Therapeutics
  • Lifemark Centric Health
  • Chiropractic Health Centre
  • Within Wellness Spa & Apothecary
  • Massage Therapist Association of Alberta
  • Lasaya Healing Center
  • Natural Health Practitioners of Canada
  • Massage Heights
  • Pure Massage
  • Healthflow Family Wellness Centre
  • Momentum Health
  • Prairie Therapy

Thanks to everyone who came out!

— by Karen McCarthy
— photos by Krystal Hurt

“Accidental” Project Manager has Flourishing Career


When Melanie Zens enrolled in the first Project Management program offered at Mount Royal in 1999, she realized “that’s what I wanted to be when I grew up. I wasn’t quite sure until I went there. I’m kind of like the accidental project manager.”

Melanie was working at a small tech start-up at the time and doing the work of a project manager without the training. She had just landed back in Calgary after travelling to South Korea as an ESL teacher following her time at UofC.

“I wasn’t sure what to to with my humanities degree. I knew I didn’t want to teach ESL for the rest of my life. That’s when I connected with a programmer friend of mine,” she says.

“Because it was a start-up company, I was wearing a lot of different hats. My mentor could see the organizational skills. He did some research and found the Mount Royal Project Management program, developed by the Project Management Institute (PMI). He thought that would be a really good fit for me, to take me to a more official project management level and more of a lead role in the organization.”

Melanie completed the certificate and started a career in project management with increasing levels of responsibility over the years. She occasionally returned to Mount Royal for refresher courses in project management and then courses in business analysis. She earned her Project Management Professional (PMP) designation in 2012.

Melanie is currently working for a large technology business on a company-wide project management framework. “It’s really exciting to be in front of an enterprise-wide initiative where you’re the evangelist for project management for your organization,” she says.

S15_blog_melanie_couch_600x458Most recently, Melanie took the Leaders, Culture and Change course in the Leadership Development program.

“I took the Leadership course because, as I grew my career, I advanced into more senior roles. I was leading a team through a lot of change and I wanted to learn more about organizational change management,” she says. “I was finding it very stressful to lead through change. The course really helped me to take a step back and analyze my leadership style and realize that I was already doing a lot of the right things, I just needed to recognize it.”

“It was good to be in a room and talk to other leaders and find out that they value the same leadership traits that I did, like leading with integrity and leading from the heart. And I learned that people are writing about this and it’s actually a best practice,” she says.

“I think the best leaders in project management are the ones that have the soft skills. You get the hard skills through the Project Management courses at Mount Royal. They teach you all of the knowledge areas, all of the skills that you need. But you also need the communication and leadership skills,” Melanie notes.

“I’m really enjoying project management as a practice and I’m always looking for ways to improve,” Melanie says. “As a principal project manager I’m helping the company roll out a new project management framework. I do a lot of training and setting up a community of practice. It’s a really great fit for me right now, so I’m going to see where that takes me.”

Not bad for someone who started out in project management almost by accident.

Watch more of Melanie’s story here.

— by Karen McCarthy
— photos by Mike Poon

PFT Students Tour Elite Facilities for Disabled Athletes


Canada vs. USA hockey –  the rivalry is just as intense when the sport is sledge hockey and the athletes are on the national Paralympic team.

Dr. David Legg

Dr. David Legg took his Personal Fitness Trainer students to Winsport recently to watch a game and tour the training facilities for disabled athletes. The visit was part of the Special Populations General course in the two-year PFT diploma. The course broadens students’ awareness of physical activity as it affects special populations, including the disabled.

“We came to the McPhail Development Centre at Winsport to tour the elite facilities for training the Paralympic sledge hockey team. That’s about as elite as you can get for disabled athletes,” says Dr. Legg. “We watched the second period of the Canada-US game. These are the national development teams.”

“Seeing these athletes play international-level sport helps the students to understand how much disabled athletes can achieve,” he says. “Many disabled athletes have far better physical fitness levels than the general population.”

Go, Canada, go!
Go, Canada, go!

Sledge hockey made its debut at the 1994 Paralympic Games in Lillehammer. The game is fast-paced and physical and is growing in popularity for both players and sports fans.

Instead of skates, players are strapped into sleds fastened atop two hockey skate blades. Players carry two sticks, about a third of the length of a regular hockey stick, with a metal pick on one end to propel themselves.

A few days before, some of the PFT students had the opportunity to try sledge hockey themselves, including Jonathan Robinson.

Jonathan Robinson tries sledge hockey

“It was quite challenging,” Jonathan says. “It’s very fast and physical. You get kind of cramped being strapped into the sled when you’re not used to it.”

Paul Gray is the self-declared oldest student in the PFT program, having come to it after years in an office environment. He hopes to help older adults be more physically active and live healthier lifestyles. “These athletes are impressive,” he says. “We played wheelchair basketball at MRU last week. It’s a lot harder than it looks.”

Bringing the joy and power of sport to people with disabilities has been David Legg’s life work. He currently is a Professor in the Bachelor of Health and Physical Education at MRU where he teaches Adapted Physical Activity and Sport Management.

He earned his PhD in Sport and Recreation Management from the University of Alberta in 2000.  He was named as one of Calgary’s Top 40 Under 40 in 2003, received the Gary McPherson and King Clancy Awards in 2012, and Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal in 2013. He has given over 100 professional presentations and published over 100 articles in a variety of journals.

As a volunteer, David is the past president for the Canadian Paralympic Committee, and past board member for the 2015 Pan Parapan American Games in Toronto. Presently, he serves on the Leadership team of Canadian Sport for Life, and on the International Paralympic Committee’s Sport Science Committee, among many other Calgary and Alberta based initiatives.

“I’ve always cheered for the underdog,” says Dr. Legg. “There’s something about people who go the extra mile, that have to push themselves to the limit to succeed, that really reminds me of why I love sport.”

— by Karen McCarthy
— photos by Krystal Hurt

Corporate Training Instructor Tailors Courses to Clients’ Needs


Instructor Cheryl Davis has taught management courses for our Corporate Training clients for several years. She is also an instructor in the Management Development Extension Certificate. We spoke with Cheryl about what she brings to corporate clients.

Q: What is your teaching style when working with corporate clients?
A: It’s really about them being able to apply what I’m teaching as they go through the program. We want to give them useful information that’s directly applicable in the roles and situations they’re in. We get a good sense of our audience before we start and adapt to the needs of each group.

Q: So you’re never teaching exactly the same program twice?
A: No. Even though I’m teaching the same content the discussions are different because a lot of the topics come from the students themselves. I talk to the group about what issues they’re dealing with and then I make sure that the emphasis and the materials apply to their situation.

Certainly there’s core content that I make sure to cover, but I am also aware of what the group is there for and what they want. Relevance to their own situation makes it more likely they’re going to take something away.

Q: What courses do you teach for corporate clients?
A: It varies. I do a lot of supervisory, leadership and communications courses – basically how to treat people. Because I have a financial background, I also teach how to read and understand financial statements and manage the bottom line.

Q: What changes have you seen in management training?
A: There have been lots of changes. I’ve been involved with management for over 30 years now. When I look at some of the things that were acceptable to do years ago, you could get put in jail for that today! There have been a lot of changes in terms of respect, safety and how we communicate. The whole top-down, “I’m the boss” mentality doesn’t work. There was a lot of position power years ago, but now there’s personal power. Managers have to ask themselves, am I respecting people, do I have integrity? To help people understand the significance of this in their roles as managers is huge.

Management today is a lot more about how you treat people than being procedure-driven. In the past it was about what to do, what steps to follow. Now it’s a lot more about the things that could happen while you’re trying to implement procedures and how to deal with those things.

Q: How can corporate clients be prepared to be good leaders?
A: To be a good leader really requires people willing to follow. Leaders have to think about the people they are leading and where they are coming from, how they feel and what impacts them. In order to help employees to deliver their best and be the best they can, managers really have to know them. Everybody is unique. What works with one individual won’t work with everyone. So the better leaders are at adapting their style to the needs of their team the more successful they will be as leader.

Q: What are some common issues for corporate clients?
A: Probably the most common issues are people issues, how people interact with each other. One of the things that we talk about a lot is perception. Oftentimes, it’s not that somebody’s right and somebody’s wrong, it’s that the way I see it is different from the way someone else sees it. Things get blown out of proportion because one person didn’t understand what the other person meant and their perspective was quite different. In the classroom, we try to understand why might this have happened and what could they have done to prevent it?

Q: What feedback do you get from your corporate clients?
A:  One of the biggest things is how they can take away what we’ve talked about and immediately apply it. They also appreciate how it opened them up to other perspectives.

Q: Why is MRU a good place to come for Corporate Training?
A: MRU really thinks about their clients. They talk to the clients and find out what they want and then match the instructor to the client. We have a lot of discussions about the client’s specific needs before we even develop the materials. MRU makes sure that the instructors they send out to the client are proven to be competent and have some real-life experience in the subject matter they’re teaching.

Q: Do you teach most often at the client’s location or on campus?
A: It’s pretty much equal. We’re very flexible. We’ll go wherever the client requires, wherever it makes the most sense for the people who are attending.

— photo by Krystal Hurt

Business Analysis Program Celebrates 10th Anniversary

Richard Lannon meeting with an attendee of MRU's recent Business Champions event
Instructor Richard Lannon meeting with an attendee of MRU’s recent Business Champions event

The Business Analysis Extension Certificate is one of our most popular programs, offered in both classroom and online versions. Mount Royal is an Endorsed Educational Provider of the International Association of Business Analysts (IIBA).

MRU’s program began in March 2005 with a two-day overview course. The idea was proposed by business consultant Richard Lannon, who also wrote the curriculum for the course and continues to teach in the certificate.

“There was nothing out in the marketplace,” Richard notes. “At that point in time there wasn’t even the IIBA. But this was a growing field so I spoke to the program staff at Mount Royal and wrote a proposal identifying the skill set of a business analyst, which I have used throughout my career. It hit all the key disciplines or knowledge areas a business analyst requires. We were one of the first.”

At about the same time, the IIBA was established, standardizing the processes and knowledge areas of business analysis.

“A business analyst is an individual who is able to look at business problems or opportunities within an organization and identify possible approaches to solve problems and make improvements in key business areas,” says Richard.

Mount Royal’s Business Analysis program now features 9 courses plus a Final Assessment Paper, for a total of 155 hours. Several hundred students have completed the program over its 10-year existence. Richard Lannon continues to teach some of the Business Analysis courses.

Richard Lannon, currently based in Manitoba, is the owner of the consulting business BraveWorld. He is a proven leader in strategic facilitation, business analysis and project management. He consults with technology-based companies in the oil and gas, mining, transportation, health care and professional services industries. Richard helps his clients identify and solve problems, helping them create a roadmap for moving forward.

In addition to pioneering MRU’s Business Analysis program, he was also instrumental in launching the popular Project Management program in 1999.

“Often business analysts will be asked to manage projects. That’s why the introductory Project Management course is part of the Business Analysis program,” Richard says. “Business analysis skills are used in project management, and project management skills are important to project management, too.”

In 2010 Richard Lannon received MRU’s Distinguished Teaching Award and a Business Recognition Award for his work with Alberta Entrepreneurs in strategic planning and leadership development. He was the keynote speaker at MRU’s recent Business Champions event.

MRU’s Business Analysis program has changed and evolved over the past 10 years, keeping pace with the technological and business concerns of industry. “The Business Analyst program and even the role and responsibility of the business analyst have evolved. It’s still evolving,” Richard says.

Graduates of the Business Analysis Extension Certificate are prepared for entry-level to mid-level positions as business analysts.

“They can be a business analysis generalist or a specialist,” Richard notes. “For example, I enjoy gathering and documenting, while others may enjoy process and workflow modelling. It’s an in-demand career and the opportunities are there.”

Is there a typical business analysis student? “It runs the gamut,” Richard says. “We have people who are looking to acquire work skills, who are in a career transition, or who are in their late career and wanting to be a consultant. Ideally, they like to facilitate and solve problems. In the corporate world they’re known as tech people who understand business.”

— by Karen McCarthy
— photo by Sue Madsen

Spring Has Sprung with Personal Development Opportunities


Calgary might be the only major city in North America not suffering the winter doldrums these days. The recent beautiful weather coincides with the release of our Spring/Summer calendar.

Among our career-focused certificates and programs are personal development courses. Spring and summer are the perfect time to focus on your interests and hobbies.

Apply your green thumb to our popular Yard & Garden courses this May and June. In addition to our courses on landscaping and gardening for Calgary’s unique climate, we are offering two new courses: Growing Food in the City and Creating Biodiversity with Insects.

On the topic of greenery, you can complete our Floral Design Certificate of Completion in only three weeks. By using the Block Code FD123 you will save 10% on course fees.

In our Photography courses, you can finally learn how to use that digital SLR camera you bought. Take courses toward your Certificate of Completion or individual courses of interest. We even have a Mountain Photography Workshop in Banff the weekend of July 24-26.

Maybe you’re planning on selling your house this year? You can learn about Home Staging in order to maximize the sale.

Our new Healthy Aging courses help you plan for retirement or help aging family members live their best lives.

Be your best self with arts and wellness courses. In addition to the courses above, check out:

Want to work out some of the winter kinks? Our Massage Therapy students give treatments in the Practicum Clinic for only $20-30 for a one-hour massage. Book here.

Don’t forget the children and teens in your life. MRU Kids is celebrating 25 years of offering fun and educational summer camps.

Registration for Spring and Summer courses is now open. After you register, download the Welcome Guide for info on parking, BookStore and amenities.

Here’s to your season of self-discovery!

— by Karen McCarthy

Students Learn Employment Skills on the Job


Mount Royal’s Transitional Vocational Program (TVP) is celebrating 35 years of fostering personal, professional and academic growth for adults with developmental disabilities.

TVP Manager Craig Baskett says, “The Employment Preparation Certificate is a 12-month employment preparation program where we support students to find and maintain jobs. Before they come to us, they often struggle to maintain and flourish at work. With the support of our program, students experience much higher rates of employment success — often maintaining jobs for many years.”

The students spend 300 classroom hours learning about work preparation, life skills, and literacy and computer skills. They then go out on work practicums to apply their knowledge and skills on a work site with the support of an Employment Specialist.

We had the opportunity recently to speak with two TVP students on the job.

Michaela Wasyliw started the program in September 2014, finishing up a three-month placement at the Shoppers Drug Mart in southeast Calgary in January.


Michaela was working as a merchandiser, putting stock away and putting out promotional shelf talkers to promote specific products. “I have transferable skills to help me get a new job,” Michaela says. “I hope I will get a good recommendation from Antonina.”

Antonina Riserbato was Michaela’s manager at Shoppers Drug Mart. Antonina has provided work placements for several TVP students over the past 7 years.

“It’s such an honour to work with these students,” she says. “I love to see them grow. I feel so happy working to build them up from start to end. I think, I took part in that. I taught someone from the beginning.”

Michaela Wasyliw with TVP Employment Specialist Myles Kelly
Michaela Wasyliw with TVP Employment Specialist Myles Kelly

“Michaela is a sweetheart,” Antonina says. “She has retail in her! She grasped the basics quickly and took such pride in finishing on a set timeline. She’d say, ‘See, Antonina, I told you I’d be able to do it.’ I have no issues in recommending her for another Shoppers Drug Mart.”

“My goal for this year for work is to learn more about how to do planograms and I want to learn cashier,” Michaela says. “And I want to save on a trip to Disneyland with my friends. I want to one day move out on my own and want to save up for my own car and I want to have a family soon.”

Nick Keene with manager Jason Bucholz
Manager Jason Bucholz with Nick Keene

We also spoke with Nick Keene at the Mr. Lube location in southeast Calgary, where he has been working for a year with manager Jason Bucholz.

Nick completed the TVP program in 2014. He loves being around cars. “Right now I’m greeting everyone that rolls up but I’m looking towards going downstairs and being underneath the vehicles,” he says. “It’s a busy store, but it’s a really good job. The people here are great.”

To become a Lower Technician, Nick would undergo on-the-job training. “It’s a bit of online stuff and it’s more on the floor as well,” he says.

“We love Nick’s enthusiasm for cars,” says manager Jason. “But sometimes we have to remind him to focus on the job he has right now.” This includes informing customers of estimated wait times and writing up the information on a schedule.

Nick’s favourite part of the TVP program was “learning to do things in the workforce and how it really is, that kind of thing. There were a few things that I didn’t know that I know now. Like, interviews are little more than I thought they were,” he notes.

Since it began in 1980, MRU’s Transitional Vocational Program has helped hundreds of adults with developmental disabilities enter the work force, make meaningful contributions and realize their dreams for a more independent life.

— by Karen McCarthy
— photos by Karen McCarthy