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Don’t Let One Failed Exam Stop You: A Graduate Tells Her Story

by Kendra Ostrander

I had first arrived to Gainesville late January 2014, a week before I would attend the Florida School of Massage. My uncle was attending at the time and talked highly of this magical place that not only allowed, but encouraged, students to be barefoot. I was sold when he carried on and told me that this place is a place for healing – and that in order to be a good therapist, you first must go through therapy.  It made sense.  After a few exchanged phone calls between the school and then with my uncle, I had decided to leave what was familiar and take a leap of faith and fly on a plane to Gainesville.

I cannot even describe to you the amount of memories made here. I found a unique family while attending the Florida School of Massage. I fell in love with a group of people who were strangers to me just six months before. I learned so much about myself and others. I became aware. My family had gotten bigger, and I was getting stronger. What we experienced as a class was pure gratitude and love towards everything and everyone, no judgment.  We were growing together in a space that allowed us to do so at our own pace. I am forever grateful for this experience because it started a fire inside of me –  the inspiration to cultivate a balanced lifestyle.

Unfortunately, as our graduation approached, I realized our six-month program had to end somewhere.  It was emotional, to say the least. I graduated the 25th of July, 2014. I had taken the Massage and Bodywork Licensing Exam (MBLEx) three days after that, on the 28th, and failed by 18 points. I was devastated, as now I had to return back to my small hometown in upstate New York feeling like a “failure” and afraid of disappointing my family. I returned to bartending.  But then I saved up some cash for six months and returned back to Gainesville, as I acknowledged that time was passing and I was getting further away from achieving my goal of becoming a Licensed Massage Therapist.

After returning to Gainesville I started working as a nanny.  That was fine but I quickly became aware of my unhappiness. I was at a very low point in my life.  That summer, our class had lost a fellow graduate, Oceann Friedman Love, and I wasn’t enjoying my job like I used to.  I was feeling stressed and conflicted as my relationship was also coming to an end. I was lost and I needed some guidance. So a friend and I came to the school to walk and meditate. I went into the school for a glass of water and I ran into Jen, the receptionist, and she began to tell me that they were looking to hire another receptionist.   I turned in my resume the next day. A few days after my interview, I started training for the position. The universe must have been listening, because happiness was finding me.

During my three-month employee review, I was asked by my supervisor, Anne Marshall, “What goals do you have set for the next year?” I replied, “Becoming a licensed massage therapist.” Since money was an issue, the school financed me my test fee so I could afford to take it, but unfortunately I completely dropped the ball and missed the exam by a whole day.  I laughed that one off with my co-workers and family, and claimed, “It was an expensive mistake.”  I applied again to take the exam a few weeks later. I had the mentality of “I am not failing again!”  After reading four books, taking hundreds of practice quizzes (thanks to ABMP’s Exam Coach), and hours of studying day in and day out, I finally felt “ready” to take the exam.  I finally took the MBLEx for the second time on Tuesday August 15, and I PASSED! (coincidentally, just five days before my one-year anniversary of working at the school)

Kendra Ostrander (far right) with her classmates.

Kendra Ostrander (right) with her classmates.

I am now in the process of waiting for my license in the mail. I am sharing my success story because I never thought I’d be able to do it. I passed the MBLEx and that was a very challenging task for me to overcome. It took almost everything I had in me, to believe that “I could do it” and lots of hours spent dedicated to studying.  I accomplished my goal and plan on continuing to work at the front desk along with practicing out of the professional clinic here at the Florida School of Massage.

Becoming a licensed massage therapist allows me to live a healthy and balanced lifestyle that I so deeply desire and enables me to promote the same to my clients. I am excited to finally start my massage career because when somebody has a powerful touch, they can indeed change lives.