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REALITY CHECK: Dancing for a degree

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Young women dancing their way through school isn't as uncommon as you may think.

Especially when they find themselves in a financial pinch.

We spoke with one local dancer who wanted to remain anonymous. She talked exclusively with Local 15, and told us her story about how she danced to get her degree.

"I thought about it for a moment and said, you know, this wouldn't be such a bad option. I couldn't find any valid reasons not to. It just didn't make sense not to see it as an option at the time."

She started dancing at the age of 21. At the time, she was a Sophomore attending Spring Hill College majoring in Art and Communication.

"I was mainly on loans and grants through school. I had no problem going through school, but I still had to pay for my own life.”

After weighing the pros and cons she decided that dancing is what she wanted to do, despite the negative stigma dancers have.

"It's just like any other job. What is a job? You're trading a service for money. Did I feel degraded or anything? Not necessarily. Pretty much anywhere you could feel like you're being taken advantage of, anyplace."

Soon enough, the dough started rolling in.

"Roughly I’d make $1200 a month average, working three or four days a week. Some days I’d make maybe $100 to $200 average a day."

The quick and easy money allowed her more time for study.

"I had a lot of extra time to study, I guess because I really didn't have to work as many hours as I would have working another kind of job."

After dancing for several months, she realized she wasn't the only student dancing to make a living.

"There were a lot of people just like me that were either going to school or had some kind of goal. For me, there was an expiration limit on it, so it didn't evolve into despair."

She says her biggest regret was not dancing, but, the fact that she didn't save as much as she should have.

"I wish that I'd been able to save more. I had done without for so long that when I had that extra money, I got kind of excited about it and splurged a lot.

Now, as a recent graduate looking for a career, she is finding it difficult to land a job because of a significant gap in her work history.

"The lack of professional employment for those three and a half years has stunk. That gap really hurt.”

She says, the people skills she has gained while dancing has prepared her for a career in the real world, especially when it comes to communication.

"Being able to talk to strangers has definitely been very helpful in my life. I don't know where I'd be right now if I wasn't good at talking to strangers. It definitely helped a lot with my anxiety."

The anonymous dancer hopes to land a job doing what she loves, which is art. She says she hopes the skills learned during her three and a half years as a dancer benefit her in the future.

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