Erica Piper: ‘En pointe’ for career in dance

Erica Piper will be the student speaker at the Summer Commencement ceremony on Saturday, Aug. 15, at 10 a.m. She is graduating with a B.F.A. in Dance and a B.A. in Dance Education.

Hometown: Cuyahoga Falls

Graduate: Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy

What’s next? I have a job with a truly wonderful organization in northeast Ohio called Art Sparks. Art Sparks is a nonprofit organization that brings high quality dance programming into the schools while simultaneously aligning with another academic subject. Working at Art Sparks has led to the opportunity to attend teacher training at the acclaimed National Dance Institute in New York City — an organization I have admired for years!

Q: Best advice you ever got from a professor?

A: Be a champion for what I believe in. She taught me to not only love what I do, but to “champion” and advocate for the importance of the art form to our society, particularly in education.

Q: What’s your advice to incoming freshmen?

A: Start your journey at UA by chasing what you love. If you don’t know what that is — keep looking! I had many people question my decision to major in dance. They told me there were no jobs in the field and that it was risky not to have a back-up plan. But I couldn’t imagine myself in another field of work. That doesn’t mean things worked out the way I planned. Going in to college, I wanted nothing more than to dance professionally with a company. An unfortunate injury got in the way of that plan, so I had to think outside the box. Now I have an incredible job with an organization that advocates for quality dance education in the schools.

Q: How do you describe your Akron Experience?

A: My experiences at Akron were fulfilling because I chose an area of study I was passionate about and connected with peers and professors that felt the same way. Discover what you love and chase it fearlessly — your Akron Experience will be unforgettable!

Erica Piper