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Dancing Through Passion and Perseverance: A Journey from Dance to Nursing

The success of our students, both former and current, is at the heart of the Academy of Dance Arts. We've had the pleasure of reconnecting with Makenzie Devine, an ADA alum from 2019, and we're excited to share updates on her recent pursuits in this blog.


The Academy of Dance Arts gave me so much more than I could’ve ever imagined. Growing up, I didn't realize the impact that ADA had on many different aspects of my life until I grew older and was able to look back and reflect. Having spent 12 years of my life there, ADA taught me so much more than how to dance. It taught me how to be a part of a team and always look out for others, how to be determined and never give up, even when times get tough, how to manage my time and prioritize my schoolwork along with dance, how to find happiness and peace in your life through physical movement, and most importantly, the importance of having friends that feel like family. I am still extremely close with many of my friends that I met at ADA even being five years removed, and I still keep in touch with Ricky Ruiz. I cherish these relationships so much and always will. Even though I did not continue my journey with dance after I left ADA, I cannot thank them enough for the lessons that they taught me which brought me to where I am now. I couldn’t be more grateful. - Makenzie Devine

How did you first get involved in dance, and what motivated you to pursue it as a passion?

I first became involved in dance when I was just five years old. I did many different sports when I was little, but dance was the first thing that I really connected with and thoroughly enjoyed. The passion that I grew for dance came with time, and I didn’t realize how much it impacted me until I took a step back to reflect on my time at ADA. Dance to me was so much more than a sport, and it remains so special to me.


Can you share a memorable moment or performance from your dance career that made you particularly grateful for your involvement in the art form?

Over my 12 years at ADA, I performed many different solos each year. The performance, however, that sticks out to me as the most memorable in my dance career was my senior year solo. This dance was dedicated to my mother who fought and overcame breast cancer many years ago. This solo held such a special place in my heart, and it was always very emotional for me to perform. It showed me how dance can have deep meaning and impact you emotionally, which made me particularly grateful for the art form.


How has dance influenced your personal growth and development as an individual?

Dance taught me how to be a part of a team and always look out for others, how to be determined and never give up, even when times get tough, how to manage my time and prioritize my schoolwork along with dance, how to find happiness and peace in your life through physical movement, and most importantly, the importance of having friends that feel like family. The lessons that I learned while at ADA were so valuable for my personal growth and development as an individual. I would not be who I am today without dance.


Were there any specific mentors, teachers, or role models who played a significant role in shaping your dance career and your gratitude for it?

My dance teacher Ricky Ruiz played the largest and most impactful role in my dance career. He was like a second father to me, and he cared about me so much more than just as his student. He taught me so many life lessons and really shaped my love and gratitude for dance. I am forever grateful for Ricky, and he remains one of my most special mentors in my life.


Can you describe any challenges or obstacles you've faced in your dance journey and how you overcame them? How did these experiences contribute to your gratitude for dance?

Like with anything, there will always be challenged and obstacles to overcome. I suffered from a hip injury which altered the way that I could dance. Even though this injury was very frustrating at times, it taught me how to persevere and that sometimes you need to go through challenges to make you realize how much something means to you. It gave me a greater appreciation and gratitude for dance because I had a glimpse of what it was like to have that taken away from me.


Tell us about your profession/career and if there are any "dance moments" that relate to what you are currently doing.

I am about to graduate from nursing school in December and have accepted a job at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in the Cardiothoracic Intensive Care Unit which I will begin in March. Dance and the lessons that I have learned from it still affect my everyday life and my career. I find that while working in healthcare, it makes me want to do everything that I can to get my patients back to doing what they love, whether that be running, yoga, pickleball, football, or dance. I know the positive impact that doing what you love can have on your life, so I want to be an advocate for my patients to get back to that.


What is the most significant life lesson you've learned through your dance journey, and how has it influenced your perspective on gratitude and self-discovery?

The most significant life lesson that I have learned through my dance journey is that if you stick with something, work hard, and have the joy and passion for it, you will excel. I learned this lesson in dance and I am able to carry it over to my profession in nursing. It has taught me that you have to love what you are doing, and to be grateful for every lesson that you learn along the way.


Makenzie Devine

To see our alumni updates, click HERE!


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