August 8, 2019

Kish pinning ceremony welcomes new massage therapists to the profession

Kishwaukee College faculty, administration and staff held a pinning ceremony on August 7 to honor graduating therapeutic massage students. The students were presented with a special pin during the ceremony before family and friends, recognizing their accomplishments and successful completion of the program and becoming eligible to join the profession of massage therapy.

The therapeutic massage graduating class of 2019 are: Jacklyn Bouma, Waterman; Brittany Heldt, DeKalb; Marie Meskimen-Esser, Shabbona; Heather Perkins, DeKalb; Sonia Rios, Sterling; Thomas Stich III, DeKalb; Jurgita Vaitkute, Rockford; and Tarah Wooten, Rochelle. 

The ceremony included addresses from coordinator of Complementary Health Programs Leslie Ciaccio, student speaker Brittany Heldt and dean of instruction Chase Budziak. Graduates and their guests also enjoyed a short slideshow, created by Sara Halley, from Kishwaukee Education Consortium, that recapped their progress through the program.

The tradition of pinning healthcare graduates originates with the nursing profession in 1860 when Florence Nightingale presented a lapel pin to her best students. Over the years, other healthcare professions have added the practice to their graduation traditions to symbolize an official initiation into the students’ chosen healthcare profession.

During the ceremony, each graduate was pinned individually by a friend or family member who had supported the student or acted as a mentor. Graduates then offered gerbera daisies to their family and friends as a token of appreciation for their support while completing the program.  

The therapeutic massage program prepares students for careers as massage therapists. Graduates are eligible to take the Massage & Bodywork Licensing Examination (MBLEx). As the national entry-level licensure examination, MBLEx is recognized throughout the nation, and successful completion of the exam allows students to become licensed by the State of Illinois.

For more information on the therapeutic massage program at Kish, visit or contact coordinator of Complementary Health Programs Leslie Ciaccio at or 815-825-9363.

Photo: Kishwaukee College therapeutic massage graduates participated in a traditional healthcare pinning ceremony on August 7 at the College. Pictured: The therapeutic massage graduating class of 2019, front row L to R: Jacklyn Bouma, Waterman; Sonia Rios, Sterling; Jurgita Vaitkute, Rockford; back row L to R: Brittany Heldt, DeKalb; Thomas Stich III, DeKalb; Marie Meskimen-Esser, Shabbona; and Tarah Wooten, Rochelle. Not pictured Heather Perkins.