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Q&A with recent alumna: Abbey Hanson

As anxious seniors count down their final days at ISU, we all begin to wonder, what are our next steps? ISU Alum, Abbey Hanson, earned an M.F.A. with the class of 2013 last spring and returned to share her insight on post-grad life.

Zack Applehans/Photo Editor

Zack Applehans/Photo Editor

Did you secure future plans before graduating?

AH: My initial plans were to teach dance at Forte Arts Center, take dance class and audition and work as a bartender. I knew I wanted to dance and giving up my weekend nights was what would allow me to do so. I also knew I wanted to teach and choreograph, so the arts center was a great opportunity for that.

What do your weeks look like now?
AH: I work 7 days a week. I’ll wake up, teach, work out and then teach all night. Generally I’ll find nights to spend with my roommates and friends. I’m not one to sit around so being active and involved in my work keeps me motivated.

What is the best part about diving into the “real world?”
AH: The limitless amount of opportunities. You can take this transition in two ways: fear or determination. I knew that fear would limit my chances of becoming who I wanted to be, so I dove right in.

Have you had struggles or tough adjustments?
AH: My biggest challenge has been saying no to things that would make the here and now easier but limit me from my dreams in the long-term. I ended up giving up bartending to become a Pure Barre instructor because it was in my field of study, and I knew it could help me progress as a teacher and dancer.

Any post-grad accomplishments thus far?
AH: I’m starting to book teaching and choreography jobs across the country, and that’s what I’ve always really wanted.

What advice would you give to the class of 2014 as they prepare for graduation?
AH: My advice would be not to be scared. Today’s society has put so much pressure and expectation on our youth to be the best of the best. Be comfortable with being you and aspiring to be what you want to be. Always recreate yourself, but stay true to what it is that inspires you, and don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t.

A year ago, did you picture your life the way it is today?
AH: Yes and no. I would’ve hoped to be a little further than what I am now, but the opportunities that have arisen because of it have been amazing.

Can you think of a moment that made you first realize you were fully independent and no longer a student?

AH: I could say my first rent check or utility bill, but that wouldn’t be true. One day I woke up after bartending all weekend. My head hurt and my body was sore, and I knew I had to teach for five hours that night. I realized on my drive to the dance studio that I was miserable and unable to put all my energy into the work that I really cared for. I decided to turn down the money from bartending, pick up a Pilates job and focus on developing my mind and body. A few weeks later, my dad told me that I looked healthy, and he was proud of me. I knew I made my first adult decision and was proud of my hard work.

Where do you see yourself in five years?
AH: I see myself in grad school in the west coast or closer to it. Chicago is a wonderful city but my love and passion thrives further west.

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