We Love Our Grads: Anna O’Leary ’21, Dance

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“I have gotten to experience so much throughout my time at LMU and I owe it all to my amazing professors and the friends that I have met along the way who have all helped me get to the point I am at today.”

With graduation upon us, we spoke to some of CFA’s talented #LMU21 graduates as they gear up to leave LMU and take on the world. In our We Love Our Grads series, we asked a graduating student from each of our departments to reflect on their time here, as well as share their plans for the future.

Anna O’Leary ’21
Majors: Dance and Psychology
Career Goals: Physical therapist for dancers

How did you decide to become a Dance major?

There are a few reasons why I decided to be a dance major. I first started dancing when I was four years old and ever since then, dance has always been a part of my life. When I was younger, I was always inspired by all of the girls at my studio who went on to pursue dance in college and knew from a young age that I wanted that to be me. Before coming to LMU, I didn’t really know what I wanted to do post-graduation, but I chose to major in dance because the one thing I did know was that I wanted to grow as a dancer. I knew that being a dance major at LMU would allow me to hone my craft and prepare me for a rewarding path ahead.

Tell us a little about your time at LMU!

Along with being a dance major, I am also a psychology major. I am a member of LMU’s National Dance Education Organization and through this organization, I had the amazing opportunity to participate in an international dance exchange. After participating in a trip to Panamá, I was able to witness the power of dance and the importance of making dance education accessible to everyone. This was my first experience combining dance and social action and it has continued to inspire me to do so in the future.

What are your post-graduation plans and how did you come to that decision?

Next fall, I will be traveling to London to pursue a Master’s degree in Dance Science at Trinity Laban Conservatory of Music and Dance. My background as a dancer combined with my scientific interest in how the human body moves is what initially drew me towards dance science. Throughout the research process of my senior thesis, I became intrigued by the connection between dance and science, that I ultimately made the decision to apply to Trinity Laban. Moreover, obtaining a master’s degree will help me expand my knowledge of dance science and further my career and interest in becoming a physical therapist for dancers.

Did you have a particular experience that led you to this path?

Most influential in shaping my growing interest to study dance science was my trip to Panamá. Teaching dance to young children from orphanages allowed me to witness the influence of dance on self-esteem and confidence. While my interests were to educate and instruct in the skills of dance, I later came to realize the power of dance not just as a physical form of exercise, but its ability to encourage happiness. Countless hours of dancing together brought pure joy to their lives and as we continued to move throughout the day, I was able to witness the positive psychological impact of dance not only within myself, but within the children surrounding me. During this international dance exchange, I was not prepared for the impact it would have on my academic interests and has only reinforced my fascination to study dance as wellness.

Tell us a little about your career goals and aspirations.

I aim to connect my undergraduate education, master’s degree and extensive dance background to work as a physical therapist who specializes in dancers. As a dancer for the majority of my life, physical therapy is not a new field to me, however, I have seen a deficit within the physical therapy community that primarily targets rehabilitative health for dancers.

How do you feel you experience at LMU prepared you for this next step?

LMU has played a significant role in preparing me for the next step after graduation. I have gotten to experience so much throughout my time at LMU and I owe it all to my amazing professors and the friends that I have met along the way who have all helped me get to the point I am at today.

What will you miss most about LMU?

I will miss late nights in the dance studio and being surrounded by so many amazing, creative, and inspiring people.

What advice do you have for underclassmen?

Be yourself, be confident, and know that it’s okay to make mistakes.