UC Riverside takes great pride in being one of the only universities in the nation that offers free chair massages for their students. Tracy Smith, our lone masseuse from Australia, welcomes a line of students eagerly anticipating a much-needed massage. Although Tracy Smith provides a great amount of stress relief for our students through her massages, we believe that her impact stretches further beyond.
Her story as an Australian journey-woman who has traveled to countries such El Salvador and India in order to master her trade can act as a source of inspiration for our students. Tracy’s journey shows a dedication to her craft and a passion for not only excellence but helping others as well. Her altruistic nature shines through her motivation to work at UCR, despite having 2,500 private clients outside the university. Tracy’s story can teach students to be good for the sake of being good, and not just personal, monetary gain. It can drive our students to follow their passions and develop the work ethic necessary to make their dreams come true. Her explorations exemplify the lengths that students should go to for their goals and the importance of traveling in one’s own self-discovery. When one travels, one is exposed to the multitude of sights that the world has to offer. New perspectives on life are absorbed through not only these sights that are encountered, but the people that one interacts with as well.
In college student Alex Thomas’ paper “A Little Less Touch Starved,” he writes about Tracy Smith’s ability to fulfill a student’s lack of touch from a fellow human being. In his paper, Alex cites Kerstin Unvas Moberg, a Swedish doctor, and researcher, and states “Studies have shown that massages cause a buildup of oxytocin, which is sometimes referred to as the love hormone because its effects include receptiveness and closeness. It has also been discovered to have anti-anxiety properties. This program at UCR produces a population of those that will have lower blood pressure and pulse rate and higher levels of oxytocin.”
With a rise in oxytocin, students receive an experience far beyond what they can even imagine. They not only are given stress relief from their hectic schedules as full-time students, they are given the gift of touch. This gift of touch can fulfill the feelings of warmth and closeness that they may be missing out on, and a splash of much needed physical human connection that they may be missing out on. High levels of anxiety may also be decreased, which is a type of relief that is highly sought after due to the intense nature of the university experience. Life can be tough sometimes, and Tracy Smith gives these students an incredible package of reprieve, even if only for a couple moments. The impact that she has on the community is profoundly valuable, and ushers in feelings of love, closeness, and positivity, one massage at a time.