By Emily Thomas
Distinguished Young Woman of Massachusetts for 2012
I’ve been dancing since I could walk. I was first officially enrolled in dance classes when I was four years old, and it’s been my passion ever since. When I was in second grade my family and I moved from Halifax, MA to Bridgewater, MA and a year later I became a student at Paula Coffey Dance Center (PCDC). It quickly became my home away from home and my teammates became like sisters. In 5thgrade, I became a part of the competition team at PCDC. As I grew in the world of dance, I obtained more and more responsibility and prestige at PCDC. By senior year, I was a co-captain of the Senior competition team as well as teaching classes. I was a role model. I was looked up to. I was on top in the world at PCDC. After my final dance recital there, people from the community came up to me and complimented me on not only my skill, but also my involvement in the school and my commitment to dance.
Thank goodness Merrimack College has a dance team! I couldn’t imagine going into college without continuing with dance. When tryouts came, I was nervous but confident. With the positive words that I received when I left PCDC and my years of experience to back me up, I tried out for the Merrimack College dance team.
But I didn’t make it. When I looked at the final team list and didn’t see my name, one thing came to my mind. I wasn’t going to be dancing this year. Everyone assured me that there was always next year and that I could try out again, but that didn’t matter. I was going to have to take an entire year off from dance. With this painful reality came the realization that I wasn’t safe and secure in my hometown anymore. I was an hour away, in a new environment with new people and new things to experience. I had thought that college was just a new setting for me to transfer my old life to. I was wrong, and not making the Merrimack College dance team made me realize that. College was not only a new setting, but also a new life.
Through all the change and adapting that came with college, it was important for me to stay true to myself while branching out and trying new things. Not making the dance team was hard, but there’s always a silver lining. I now had much more time to get involved in other things on campus. I became a Merrimack College tour guide, a Best Buddies member, and a part of Merrimack College Relay For Life. Those are all things that allow for my true spirit to shine through, and at the same time allow me to experience college and become adapted. Positivity is the key, as well as taking advantage of the fact that my school offers Zumba every week to compensate for not dancing. 😉
Emily Thomas is a college freshman at Merrimack College in North Andover, Massachusetts majoring in Chemistry and Secondary Education. Originally from Bridgewater, Massachusetts, Emily was a participant in the Distinguished Young Women program and was selected as the Distinguished Young Woman of Massachusetts for 2012. Learn more about Emily here!