Throughout the year Alumni Services gets calls from graduates who have moved out of state, out of the country and from many years past. When I first started working at Swedish Institute, I received a call from a graduate from 1948!! Now that was quite the call…
I went to meet Shirley Tuccillo in her home in Brooklyn. She was a lovely woman who looked fit and strong. When I arrived I offered her a Swedish Institute graduate pin which she was extremely grateful for. We sat and spoke about school and she showed me her diploma.
Shirley’s daughter explained that her mom was a quiet woman from the Midwest and worked at home as a housewife until her divorce in her late 40s. She needed a job to support her young daughters and wanted to do something that would encourage her to be a bit less shy.
In 1971 Shirley attended Swedish Institute and found a job that did just what she had wanted. The profession helped her to reach out to people and to support her children for over 40 years.
I asked Shirley a few questions about the school and she told me that she didn’t remember too much at this age, but she only wished she had “her sheet” that listed her clients, from the day that she did 22 massages!!! I almost jumped out of my seat, when she said she had worked that much. She patted my shoulder and said, “They weren’t all 1 hour sessions”. Apparently Shirley did yoga and took very good care of herself to help her maintain her stamina. I asked her if she still exercises and does yoga and she told me she just walks, “that’s it”.
I asked Shirley what advice she might have for new therapists entering the field. She looked me in the eye, smiled and said “You have to love people and you have to love what you do”.
I thanked her, invited her to visit the school any time and told her that it was days like this that make my job in alumni services as enriching as working as a massage therapist.