From the time I was 5 years old, I wanted nothing more than to perform — dance, sing, act, whatever — and that’s exactly what I did with my life until August 2005. But that phase of life had come to a close.
My senior year in high school (a long, long time ago) I was interviewed for the graduating class edition of the school paper because of a scholarship I’d received to attend University of the Arts in Philadelphia, Pa., as a dance major. I’d auditioned and was placed in the top level of incoming freshmen.
My ugly mug was planted on the front page of the paper along with my words. In those words was a list of career goals I’d set to accomplish. I’m proud to say that every single item on my list has been crossed off, and that career had been very good to me.
In August 2005 I made a decision to leave a prominent career position and go back to school. Terrified to return to school, I took the minimum 12 credits my first semester to get my feet wet. But after the first two weeks, I had made that special connection and was deeply rooted in my new scholarly interests.
After just two years of attending this school, I’d applied to and accepted a full-time job under this new career umbrella. I was amazed that I could do something completely unrelated to the arts. Amazed and somewhat confused for many reasons. But like everything else that happens to or for me, I don’t wait for answers; I just acknowledge it as something that’s meant for me to experience.
The downside was, I still had two years left of school, and at the time, the school didn’t offer regular online or evening courses. Thankfully I’d developed a strong rapport with my professors and a deal was worked out in which I’d continue on my own, independently. They supplied the syllabi; I supplied the work. They were absolutely gracious and accommodating and encouraging. They met with me after hours and answered my e-mails and phone calls — many as there were — and with their incredible support, I graduated with honors.
It is now August 2010, and I’ve once again accomplished the items on another list of goals. And that phase of life is approaching its close. Although I won’t list them here, have no fear: I have a list of goals for the next five years. I am excited for the next phase.
I still perform, and I still write and edit. But now it’s time to combine these experiences and step into the realm of Melissa J. Dixon.
I had written this originally for Dr. C before I graduated, but it holds true for anyone I’ve ever considered a teacher or mentor:
TO THE TEACHER OF LIFE
If ever I’ve been grateful, let it be
The times you’ve waited patiently and still,
The moments when I’ve made you proud of me;
I know through all of this you’ve had your fill.
But something tells you that I’m worth your pain;
I hear your voice reiterating points.
I swallow up your lessons for my gain,
I hope they echo in my writing’s joints.
“(Whatever course) and Life,” your theme of choice,
These are the courses I remember well;
You’ve taught me how to think and use my voice
For things I never thought I’d show and tell.
If ever I’ve been grateful, hear me now:
I thank you for it all and take a bow.