#UNLVGRAD

Alexa's life as a college student...

I started at a Tri-C, a community college, living at home, teaching dance at the dance studio I grew up at, serving tables at my Aunt and Uncle's Italian restaurant in downtown Cleveland, and working at my moms work for extra cash whenever I had the extra time.  Saving every penny I made, working myself into the ground, and finding out what I wanted my next step to be.  All of my friends were away at school, so these were the things I did to occupy my time.  

I went back and forth between THE Ohio State University and UNLV.  I decided at 20 years old my next step would be to move across the country.  2300 miles away from home.  Where no family lived and where I would eventually spend all of the money I just saved to change my entire lifestyle.  Where there was a fancy and famous street with flashy lights, strippers, and gambling.  

I lived on my own, bought my own groceries, paid my own rent, and never asked my parents for money.  When things got difficult, I didn't run back home.  That thought never crossed my mind. It was never an option.  Instead, I strapped on a pair when I was stressed, put my big girl pants on, and learned sometimes the hard way how to be an adult.  

I've been home sick, happy, sad, sick, injured, depressed, and on cloud nine.     

I became a national champion, an athlete, a hermit, a friend, a girlfriend, an academic "dishonest" student, a partier, and the list continues.  I was never all of these at once.  Some of these I will never be again.  Some of these personas came at the lowest points in my life and others at the highest.  I am no one trick pony that is for sure.

I've taken many classes in my time of being a college student.  Aside from taking biology, accounting, finance, marketing and management classes.  I've taken the most difficult and some of the best classes in my college career.  The classes that you actually learn something from. That you take away the most.  That you finish them feeling accomplished, and that you care what happens in the end.  They are the classes that consume all of your energy.  The ones that have the most homework.  Creep up on you.  Stress you out.  The ones that you procrastinate. Some of these classes you never want to step into again.  You don't care if you ever see the material or look at that professor again.  Others, you like.  You'd be okay having to take that class over.  The material was worth every penny and the moments spent on the class was valuable.  In the end, whether the outcome was good or bad, you cared, and you genuinely wanted to succeed.  You want to thank the professor at the end for their guidance and pat yourself on the back for coming out alive.  

These are the classes I am talking about... and the Major is Life.  

Catalog Fall 2010-Fall 2015

How to become a National Champion (Fall 2013): Wake up early.  Like before the sun early.  Even when you have worked the night before, or studied for an exam and have gotten 2 hours of sleep.  You wake up at 4am so that you can get to the gym before 5am.  You go to school because "you're a student first" they said.  Then you go to practice, a lot of practices, filled with lots of running, and ankle weights.  You kick your own ass in and out of the dance room.  You do toe touch after toe touch, head spring after head spring, until you get a bald spot on your head. You ice your injured and sore body any chance you get. You're motivated, proud, and believe in yourself, your team mates, and coaches.  You never quit and when things get tough you work harder.  Then, you perform a flawless routine and cross your fingers that the judges like you as much as you like you.  In the end, your hard work pays off.  You win.  You get the trophy, the medals, and that national championship ring.  

Being a student athlete but not actually a student athlete: You have four years of eligibility, sike, it's dance, you have 5.  Being on the dance team you get many mixed feedback of what you are. You're a student athlete, you're not a student athlete. You're not NCAA sanctioned, but you still have to do study hall.  You have access to the training room but are a burden because you just "dance" and dance isn't a real sport. You practice too much, and we don't practice enough. Forget any athletic funding, let's pay $2000 out of our own pocket and then fundraise the rest. Let's have fun going to events every week, selling 80+ T-shirts a season, along with calendars and posters that if we don't sell we have to pay for. You have the supporters and the haters. The ones that see a competition routine as an athletic and difficult task and the ones that only see you as booty shakers and hair whippers.  I'll admit, it's a little bit of both.  All in all, you take it for what it is worth.  Whether you want to call us a sport or not dancers are very athletic beings and for that we should be respected in some sense as athletes and not just girls wearing Modlash 33, with Viva Glam lipstick, waving around pom poms. 

Competing in a Bodybuilding Competition for Amateurs:  Work out a lot. Eat really healthy. Walk to and from the gym. Watch everyone else eat homemade cookies and candy on Easter. Be grateful for a "cheat meal." Spray tan so much that you look like another ethnicity.  Buy a "suit" for over $200 that is smaller than your undergarments, and don't forget the clear stripper shoes, you have to have the clear stripper shoes.  Learn how to deal with muscle cramps.  With water depletion your bound to have some good ones.  Don't place, heaven forbid you did all that for a trophy or sword.  

Packing for your Dad's funeral: Have your best friend do it.  She feels for you but has the time, energy, and mental stability to pack for such a horrid trip.

Grieving 101:  This class doesn't deserve a grade.  You don't pass or fail (Even when people tell you you're failing, they tell you you're not progressing, that you need more help, and to say it lightly you need to figure your shit out). However, in this class you get an "S" for satisfactory. You manage.  You get by.  You challenge yourself.  Every damn day, you challenge yourself. You show up, because that's all you can do.  You take the punches, one by one, however they are thrown.  

The Theory of Heartbreak:  Be naive.  Give second chances.  Third and even forth ones too.  Trust so that it can be broken.  Have a big heart.  Be comfortable. Too comfortable.  Listen to no one but your silly mind.  Ignore anything anyone has to say.

Shatter a Cell Phone or Two:  Throw it against the ground.  As hard as you can.  As mad as you are.  Throw it and when you pick it up you will see the screen that once was a smooth and flawless piece of glass is now a war zone for your fingers.  

Anatomy of the Injured:  Make a dance team with an already injured back.  Make that stress fracture you already had, a fracture, herniate your disc, and add another stress fracture.  Sprain your ankle once or twice.  Bruise your heels to the point that you can't walk on them. Get a cortisone shot, so that it will only work for a day.  Oh, and how could I forget get an infection in your knee. So that your knee looks like a softball, you are on 3 types of drugs and crutches, icing it every 30 minutes and praying you don't start hallucinating from all the pain killers you have taken.  

So You Think You Can Dance I, II and III: You have your dad fly you to Los Angeles, California when you are 18 years old because your studio raised money for you to buy a plane ticket.  You get there and get cut right away, in the first round.  But, you make an awesome friend and have the memory of standing in line the with best dad and your biggest supporter.  So then when you are 19 years old, your dad once again packs his bags for you.  He drives 10 hours to Atlanta, Georgia.  Stands in line again for you this time to get cut in the second round.  This time you have the memory of your dad standing in the cold with you and wiping your tears of disappointment walking out of the theater. You take a year or so off.  The next time you go, dad won't be there, not because he doesn't want to be but because he can't be.  He's there in spirit watching from the best seats in the house, heaven.  So this time you drive to Los Angeles with a great friend and her family.  You remember standing in this exact line, at this exact place when you were 18 years old with your dad by your side.  This time things are different, the dancing is better, the passion is deeper, and the hope is stronger.  You make it past the first round, the second round and when you have the chance to dance in front of the TV judges, you get a standing O, people are in tears, and you feel like you are in a dream.  You fall to your knees, with tears in your eyes, because you have never felt that way dancing in your entire life. You jump on your friend, you have on camera interviews, and feel dad smiling from ear to ear, proud as ever. You move straight to the next round which is weeks later in California.  You eventually get cut again but can't help but be proud of the journey, memories, and experience this show has given you.  

The Principles of Falling Inlove Fast and Hard:  You had me at your "walk out."  The Shining Star kind of walk out. Outside of that California gas station.  Or maybe the Carmex you left in my car. No, it was the singing, it had to be the singing, the four hours of non-stop singing. Whatever it was, this class, it makes you laugh, a lot. It tickles, and rubs your cheeks. It makes you feel safe. It puts so much happiness in your life and makes your heart smile day in and day out.  Find someone you want to spend time with.  Someone with dreams. Someone who will teach you how to hit imaginary dingers and toast Ketel 1 with no chaser.  

How to blow your transmission 1 (because you better not have to retake this class):  Don't get an oil change.  For a really long time.  Let your car soak in every ounce of oil it has and once it's empty... try driving it. Take your boyfriend to get his car fixed and on the way, when your car will only accelerate to 15 mph, your car will come to a rolling stop.  It'll start one more time, as a tease of course.  Then, it'll stop again.  This time it will never turn on again.  This is when you know you've blown your transmission.  You'll have to pay $7500 to get it fixed or have a mother like mine who a month later drove across country to bring me a new car.  

Cheating 247:  I like to call this class, "how to push your college graduation back a semester."  In my case, I cheated on a "take home exam." Only I would get caught cheating on a take home exam, but fair is fair and I cheated.  So what happens?  You cheat on your midterm, your teacher doesn't grade it for weeks and weeks later.  So... you keep going to class... every. single. week. Until one day he emails you that you have to have a meeting with him in his office.  This meeting is to tell you you have failed the class.  I forgot to tell you... this was the second to last week of the semester.  Thank you professor for letting me continue to grace you with my presence in a two and a half hour class until 9:45pm on my Tuesday night all semester long.  It was a pleasure. Moral of the story, don't cheat.  Even on a take home exam.  

Moving for Dummies:  Move 5 times in three and a half years.  That's three apartments, one casita, and one house.  Live with an ex, with a coach, and then learn to live blindly with peers and people who can become friends.  Get a Uhaul that your car can't pull, ask to borrow trucks and cars, pay $70 a month for a storage unit, borrow beds and pay the help in food and Starbucks.

Bucket Lists for Adrenaline Junkies:  Skydive.  Jump out of a perfectly good a plane with a man on your back in hopes that his parachute will open.  Video tape it, that way you can see that you face indeed looks like a dog when it sticks its head out of the car window.  Go with good friends so you can share this unforgettable experience with them.  Jump off bridges into a river.  Count down with your boyfriend so that you jump together, and then when three comes... you jump alone.  Into cold water, where you lose your breathe and find that the current is a little faster than you anticipated.  Cliff jump.  On your 12 mile kayak adventure, find a cliff and jump off of it.  With people who are facing fears.  Scream, yell, and jump off the cliff into again freezing cold water. Scale mountains.  When complete strangers ask if you want to learn how to scale a mountain, do it.  Don't be scared that A. you don't know these people. B. you are only with one other girl. C. you don't actually know if these people know what they are doing.  

Roadtrips for the Spontaneous:  Live in the moment and see places you have never scene before. Aside from driving cross country to get here I've been able to fly to Florida, Alabama, and Montana.  I've driven to Arizona, Oregon, Utah, Colorado and California.  I've even flown well across the world to China.  I have danced on a variety of different stages all over the world, I have been in the ocean, snowboarded on the mountains, gone hiking, watched many baseball games at many different stadiums, floated the river, and star gazed in the middle of nowhere.  

These classes have molded me into one kick ass woman.  They have put me at rock bottom and as high as the moon.  They have given me a look at what life is really like.  They have put me in touch with some of the worst and best people I have encountered in my life so far. I have heard some of the nicest and meanest thoughts.  I have been told I am an inspiration, a hard worker, and a leader. Oppositely, I have been told I am disrespectful, unloyal, and rude. The point is, you have to learn how to take things with a grain of salt.  You have to know yourself, and I mean really know yourself. How to pick yourself up and take yourself down. How to trust that what you are doing and why you are doing it, it has a reason and a path.  

I don't know everything the real world has to offer, not even close.  But I now have a better understanding of the things that life can throw at you.  Cheers to the last five and a half years. To my college education coming to an end.  To my Business Management major and my Entrepreneurship and Dance minors.  To the many tears and many smiles.  Cheers to one of my biggest accomplishments to date and for the many more to come.  

"Goodbye college, Hello real world."