When Anamaria Valejo first moved to Quebec from Columbia she had a rewarding career as a social worker. “But unfortunately it came with a lot of stress,” she says. “It was a sad work environment as I had to hear and witness a lot of unfortunate things happening.”
When Anamaria moved to Edmonton, her education as a social worker was no longer recognized and she found herself at a crossroads. “A friend of mine was going for a tour at MaKami College and I agreed to join her,” says Anamaria. During the tour, Anamaria was told the story about one of the founders of MaKami College, Luba, which resonated with her deeply.
“I felt like we had similar stories,” says Anamaria. “Luba was a woman with children who came to Canada as an immigrant and could not speak the language. However, she was able to achieve her goals regardless of the challenges and barriers she had to face.”
Encouraged by the story, Anamaria enrolled. Even though she did not speak English very well and was nervous about starting school at her age with children, she managed to not only persevere, but thrive. During her second year at the college, Anamaria started her own mobile business. Shortly after, she rented a room at a clinic where she could take in her own clients and set her own prices.
After finishing graduating, Anamaria was presented with another fantastic opportunity – she was offered a space at a clinic that she was able to purchase. Anamaria renovated her room right away and has been practicing massage there for almost two years. Though she started with just one room, Anamaria quickly expanded her practice into four massage treatment rooms, with plenty of room to renovate and expand more.
Anamaria now has five employees working for her and has since added more features to her clinic, like cosmetic treatments and products available for purchase. When Anamaria bought her own clinic, Mahalo Massage Therapy and Wellness, she did not need to take out a loan or credit. Instead, she was able to pay for her new business venture with the income she earned while working as a massage therapist. Her income since switching careers has increased by a whopping 80%!
A girl with big dreams, Anamaria hopes to one day become one of the massage therapists for the Olympics, which she is currently taking additional courses for and is closer than ever to her goal!
Since graduating, Anamaria has had the opportunity to work with the National Swimming Trial Competition, the Edmonton Marathon and the Longest Hockey Game. This year, she was able to be one of the lucky few massage therapists on staff for the Canada Winter Games.
Anamaria is a true go-getter and a superb example of what determination can accomplish. Her journey has only just begun – what an inspiration!