A Conversation With Nilou Jabbari
How long have you been in massage and physical therapy?
So I’ve been in massage therapy just little bit longer; about 12 years. Sports rehab with physical therapy about 10 years.
What led you to pursue instructing?
It was actually my plan B. I wanted to become an athletic trainer so I worked in the field. I worked in the field and I realized there are not too many women or married women per say. There was another point I noticed when I would work with the head athletic trainer. His son would come and do his homework and he said “this is the only way I get to see my son”, you know, he said, “I get to see all these other kids’ games. I never get to see my own. Those things kind of like touched me like, “oh my god what am I going to do besides training”. So then I changed my route to physical therapy because that was the next best thing. I did my hours and I applied to schools to which I did not get accepted to because my classes were expired. I did not know such a thing existed. I had a high GPA and I had way over the amount of hours that they needed. While I was going through this whole application of physical therapy stuff I applied for my masters in kinesiology to possibly teach. So I got my masters and I finally found out why I wasn’t getting accepted. They said I could teach, but I couldn’t get accepted because I had no experience. Only experience I had was as a massage therapist or a physical therapy aid. So it was a struggle. Then I started with an elementary school, and then I worked my way up to college.
So you had to start teaching at an elementary school?
Yeah, I taught P.E. Then I taught at LACC. I taught general health. Then I found a job here. I thought why not? I have all the experience, they should want me. I thought they missed my resume so I came in and hand delivered it and told them, “I think you missed my interview”. They immediately gave me an interview. So then I have loved this job of teaching. People always ask me, “why don’t you try your plan A again” and I just tell them that I actually like teaching a lot more than physical therapy. Currently I teach at Los Angeles City College and Los Angeles Mission College and I teach here.
That sounds mentally exhausting. Just the sheer struggle of realizing you have to switch your life around seems hard. I forgot to mention that you asked how I got into this field. I was an athlete myself and I would see injuries and you know, I wanted to get into athletic training to help with these injuries. So that’s what I wanted to focus on, including physical therapy. When I got my massage therapy certifications, I focused with the athlete’s world. Predominately all my clients are professional athletes, college athletes, or high school athletes.
How long have you been at SOCHi?
About 2 years. Almost 2 years. Not too long.
Who is your greatest inspiration or mentor?
This is a hard one. It depends with what field. Every field I feel like I had an inspiration or mentor. In college I had these two professors I really enjoyed being a student to them. I loved the way they taught. It seemed like they really enjoyed teaching. They were my inspiration they would go beyond the classroom setting of just teaching the core. They would help you with jobs or networking. Whatever you needed help with, even your personal life or personal improvements. I can say that my professors were my mentors.
Wow I did not expect that. I expect answers like ‘Lady Gaga’ or ‘Michael Jordan’ from people when I ask this question.
They’re up there! But my professors are better than them. At least they’re influencing lives better to me. Educators are better influential people than entertainers.
I was going to ask how you were involved with the field outside of SOCHi, but you just teach at the other school’s right?
Yes, I teach other schools. Actually this semester I started taking classes myself.
I am taking classes at Pierce College. Not necessarily for personal therapy or massage therapy, just personal development classes. Maybe I can relate the small business entrepreneurship classes to this class. A lot of massage therapy involves creating your own new businesses. I am also even taking an acting class.
This is the last question; possibly the hardest one. Do you have any words of advice for students or potential students?
Just be ready to be a sponge. Have a good time being a sponge. By sponge, I mean you need to grasp whatever you can. You don’t necessarily have to take in the negative. Maybe you can learn from it, but the positive is what you want to take in. So the majority of the school or what the different instructors have to offer is positive perhaps. As an instructor, I tell my students all the time that I am learning from them also. As they are learning from me, I am learning from them. They are my teachers, and I’m theirs.