Full Circle

By Kara Wilkes, Dancer-Client & Caroline H. Newhouse grant recipient

Kara Wilkes
Kara Wilkes with Alonzo King LINES Ballet

“You have always enjoyed school. You were a good student,” my mom has pointed out each time I’ve mentioned my interest in furthering my education. My professional dance career is twelve years old and has proven to be both challenging and fulfilling on many levels. Throughout these twelve years, I’ve desired and spoken of returning to school, but due to the time and financial demands required of a university student, it has caused me to continuously say, “later”. However, a year after my move to San Francisco to dance with Alonzo King Lines Ballet, and after further investigation into St. Mary’s College of California’s L.E.A.P. (Liberal Education for Arts Professionals) program, I felt my time had come. I enrolled and, to my great delight, have been accepted into their 25th cohort for the 2012 fall semester and plan on earning a Bachelor Degree in Fine Arts.

L.E.A.P.’s flexible scheduling allows professional dancers to attend school while performing thus bestowing the gift of preparedness when their career ends. What my mom says is true: I liked school and I excelled in it. I love to read, write, and learn foreign languages. One could call me a seeker of knowledge for I’m in love with the notion that I am expanding. I enjoy philosophical talks immensely and my interests are extensive. On numerous occasions people have asked me, “What ‘s after dance?”. I’ve replied with various answers: English teacher, pizza maker, editor, florist, ballet mistress, film maker, dance agent, photographer, painter, mother…” Attending St. Mary’s College allows me the opportunity to taste various subjects, expand my ways of thinking, and whittle down my ongoing list of dream jobs or perhaps even discover a career path I have not yet imagined. I see returning to school as an opportunity to keep coming into my own so that I might come to a closer understanding of a right fit for my next career. Above all, I want to continue learning! The Caroline H. Newhouse Scholarship greatly assisted me in fulfilling a longtime dream of mine: furthering my education.

Read more about her career and how Chicago CTFD Career Counselor, Maryellen Langhout guided her transition on 4dancers.org.

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