Well, I thought I knew how hard my senior year would be, but wow, I really had no idea. It is simultaneously difficult, exciting, stressful, and amazing...So, pretty much like every other semester, but times 100. I started the year beating my personal record for credit hours and attempting to reconcile this increasingly-busy schedule with my newfound resolve to have a social life. I’m happy to report that I was able to successfully do both and freely hang out with friends for the first time in a long time, especially with my roommate, bestie, and fellow Wilson Scholar, Sarah Aldridge. Speaking of Sarah, we both had several realizations this semester about our career goals and how we would go about accomplishing those, although it’s hard to plan for the future when you’re not quite sure how things will all work out.
I got started in the right direction when I was asked to be a contributing artist in the ‘Radical Feminists’ art exhibition. The show is made up of female students at App, mostly women of color, and is the first of its kind to ever be curated in the area. This is my first venture as a bonafide artist, and I have to say, it feels amazing to be a part of this group of women and to have this experience.
I was also able to participate in the Fall Appalachian Dance Ensemble again, which helped me realize how much I want/need the time, energy, and space to create my own work, both with dance and design. This past spring, I was able to take the piece I choreographed for the Southeast region of the American College Dance Association Conference. Both my piece and a faculty piece represented Appstate and were juried (judged and critiqued) by a panel of professionals in the dance industry.
Our pieces competed against others from all over the region, and they both made it into the top 10 Gala Performance on the last night of the conference! It would be an understatement to say this was one of my biggest accomplishments ever, not just because of how well the piece was received, but also because I was, in that moment, a real choreographer with a cast of talented, supporting dancers who were everything I could ever hope for. Sitting in the audience, hearing the crowd cheer and cry and react and feel was more than I could ask for. It was addicting and fulfilling. It brought me all the confirmation I needed to know that creating work that touches people and reunites them with their humanity and others’ humanity is what I am meant to be doing.
Being able to carry this knowledge and inspiration with me has helped me see that everything I do is so that I can accomplish that dream and any others I have. There are so many people who support and believe in me, and this semester really reminded me of that and of all the sacrifices my family and I have made to be where we are today. With all of that in mind, I have the motivation I need to power through this next semester. I know that as long as I stay focused and driven, opportunities will appear, even if they’re only to experience that feeling again from the spring, they will be well worth the hard work.
Written by: Juliet Irving