When I applied to the University of Wisconsin-Madison for my undergraduate program, I wrote a well-thought-out essay about how I wanted to create opportunities for all kids to participate in dance classes. It was a lovely hypothetical, but I had no clue how to put it in action.
A year into my college experience as a double major in dance and English literature, I started teaching for Performing Ourselves, an accessible dance education program in the UW Arts Collab. Although not my first teaching experience, Performing Ourselves was the first program I saw in which every kid had access to an adaptable creative movement class, regardless of ability to pay. I knew that I wanted to build a career supporting organizations that prioritize that same value.
From then on, I stepped into a myriad of responsibilities in the UW Dance Department. I organized and funded a successful guest residency, advocated for peer wellness initiatives, consulted on new department policies, and completed a senior research project on accessible movement classes for people with diverse abilities. I found the intersection of my two degree paths in arts administration, and I loved utilizing my skillsets to promote logistic and curricular accessibility in dance education.
I was excited about pursuing an administrative career supporting organizations with these same values, but I was missing a technical foundation to support that career. That’s when Dance Department administrator and Bolz alum Heather Good pointed me towards the Bolz Center. After one visit across campus, I knew that I needed to stay at UW to pursue a master’s in Arts and Creative Enterprise Leadership and hone my skills as an arts administrator.
In addition to my coursework, the Bolz Center has connected me with local organizations, giving me real-world contexts for the tools I’m learning in class. I serve as a non-voting board member with Arts + Literature Laboratory, I am on a consulting team partnered with Innovation Center Stoughton, and I am completing an Applied Learning Placement with Wisconsin Youth Symphony Orchestras (WYSO). As WYSO’s Communications and Development Intern, I am consistently reinspired by my work when I observe how students are exploring their own creative processes and connecting with one another through music, and I am confident that the skills I develop this year will prepare me for my future career.
Looking past graduation, I plan to continue working in nonprofit development with organizations that prioritize accessible youth arts education in their communities. These past 5 years at UW have given me space to explore, learn, and prepare, and I know that I can be a catalyst to help kids access dance and the arts in ways I always imagined. I am now equipped to take on the challenge I laid out for myself when I applied to UW in 2017, and I am eager to turn that promise into practice.