News from our Dance Alumni: Jess Casey

November 15, 2011

Alumni, Community, Dance

What year did you graduate?
I graduated in 2002.

What was your major?
I was the Valedictorian of the Dance Majors

How many years were you at LFAS?
I spent 4 glorious years at LFAS! (From grade 8-12)

What have you done since graduating from LFAS?
Oh, that’s a big question… Immediately after graduating from LFAS, I worked 3 jobs for a year and a half to save up for my first big trip overseas. In September 2004 I set off fulfilling that goal by traveling/backpacking and volunteering around the world. The next three years were spent following the same pattern, working to travel! I spent 4 months volunteering in a school in Tanzania, 6 months travelling South East Asia and 4 months volunteering in an orphanage in Cambodia. In those years I visited over 25 countries; my goal was  to discover and learn about myself as I learned and discovered about the world. It was exactly what I needed and I’m so thankful  I did it.

In 2007 I was ready to focus and go back to school! In April 2009, I received my Associates Degree in Peace and Conflict Studies, focusing on Community Development and Urban Geography; in September 2009 I moved to Uganda. Since then, I have been working and living in a community development project called Tekera Resource Centre (TRC) We are located 20 km from the nearest town deep in the village. The main departments of TRC are a Level 2 Medical Clinic with outreach services; a Primary School with about 400 pupils; a Women’s Craft Club with micro-loans; a Community and Co-op Farm; and a “work-to- earn” program. I’m currently the Onsite Director working with our staff team of 24 Ugandans. The project is a very busy and productive place, one that I am very honoured and pleased to be part of!
Lastly, I recently got engaged and will be getting married next year!! Following that, my fiancé and I are thinking about moving to Canada in 2013, but like always, time will tell!

What is your favorite memory of LFAS?
Some of my favorite memories of LFAS include:
– Sharing Assemblies; where all the majors would get together in the theatre to share what they had been working on. It was a great relaxed, no pressure, very supportive environment. I remember always leaving feeling inspired.
– The smallness of the grade; what I mean is because the number of students was so small we became like a little community, like a family. I really loved that!
– Performing!

Looking back at your experience at LFAS, would you have done anything differently?
Haha, lived closer!! I had to commute from Tsawwassen everyday… that’s 104km per day, and WAY too much time in a car!

What surprised you the most about life after graduating from LFAS?
That your friends change. As I said we were such a small group of people and I assumed that we’d “always be friends” but the truth is that people change. It’s not something to be sad about it, but more to be prepared for. A few close friends always stick, but the majority will change and new ones will enter as different stages in your life pass.
Another thing is how people have chosen to continue or not continue with their majors. I taught dance for 5 years following high school and still feel dance is a passion but don’t get the chance to express it nearly as often as I would like. But some people have gone onto greatness with their majors. Art majors are now jewellers in Scotland, dancers are Rockets in New York and music majors are opera singers in San Francisco! It’s so inspiring to see people following their long time dreams! =)

What has been your proudest moment since graduating from LFAS?
Anytime a goal is accomplished I feel proud. Big or small, life feels best when accomplishments are made and you can pat yourself on the back!

What advice do you have for current students of LFAS?
Take your time! Life is not meant to be rushed, it’s meant to be lived so do so with care, for yourself and for others. And don’t take anything for granted! Appreciate all the gifts you have in your life, from your good health to your loving family to the plethora of opportunities you are faced with everyday! You are a very elite and lucky person, be thankful, gracious and kind….and of course enjoy!

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