Eight months after being laid off, Jeremy Ray, 35, is now nearing graduation from the East-West School of Integrative Healing Arts in North Liberty.

The massage school has doubled its enrollment in the past year alone, says East-West director Kristen Stephens, who attributes that jump, in part, to students such as Ray looking for a new career or a more affordable option than a traditional four-year college.

“A lot of our students we’re finding are not 18 to 22, but are a wide range of age groups that are coming back to study to be massage therapists,” Stephens said.

East-West, which was named the Iowa City Area Chamber of Commerce’s business of the year in 2008, offers four different programs with tuition ranging between $5,995 and $12,995. Students can attend either part time or full time, and they can tailor their studies toward a specific career in massage…one of the biggest draws to massage school is the short turnaround time and a strong demand for licensed massage therapists in spite of the sputtering economy.

Iowa City Press-Citizen, Iowa City, Iowa, July 22