It’s fitting that someone who has spent their entire life dancing has successfully pulled off a balancing act as a student in two largely different academic fields as a student at Shenandoah University.
Alyse Bragg ’23 will graduate this spring with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing and a minor in Dance, a path that fits the spirit of Shenandoah’s ability to offer its learners a broad selection of academic programs and career pathways.
On the surface, nursing and dancing don’t share many similarities, and Bragg’s first-hand experience in both programs backs that up. But while Bragg feels that nursing and dance fall on opposite ends of the academic spectrum, she noted that there is more overlap than you would think.
“Both fields put you in a headspace to create a trusting relationship with your peers and be vulnerable in order to succeed,” Bragg said.
Though it’s been difficult and has required some sacrifices, Bragg has enjoyed the challenge of balancing two different passions during her student experience at SU.
Being part of Shenandoah’s dance program has been one of the best college memories for Bragg, who began dancing at 2 years old, transitioned from basic dance and ballet to other styles – tap, jazz, hip-hop, modern/contemporary, and lyrical – by age 6 and was a victor at the national StarQuest Dance Competition in 2018. She has performed in dance concerts once or twice a semester, and said there is nothing like being part of Shenandoah dance, which she praised for providing a sense of community that “truly accepts you for who you are and loves you like family.”
Likewise, Bragg described her time as a student in Shenandoah’s Eleanor Wade Custer School of Nursing as both incredibly challenging and rewarding.
“Going through nursing school requires you to take a deep look at whether a career in nursing is right for you, because there are lots of sacrifices you have to make to do well and excel. Each semester gets more challenging because we are taught to change our way of critical thinking, because these are critical situations we will be in,” said Bragg, who did her clinical preceptorship in the Critical Care Rapid Assessment Unit (CCRAU) at Winchester Medical Center. Working in the CCRAU, she added, further propelled her passion for nursing, and she credited Shenandoah’s nursing faculty for helping provide that opportunity.
Bragg said it was her early introduction to dance that shaped her into a hardworking and determined person, as she learned at a very young age to never give up until you are proud of what you have done and what you have accomplished.
That mindset has propelled Bragg through college, as has her ability to manage the chaos of balancing nursing clinicals and assignments with dance concerts and rehearsals. She keeps herself on track using a system that includes online and paper planners and a master checklist of all of her assignments.
I sometimes would have to be doing practice tests for nursing and studying during tech week for a dance concert. I had to sacrifice time with my dance friends as well as performing to excel and get the grades I needed to be in the nursing program. There were several times I missed out on opportunities for dance because of clinical schedules or upcoming exams, but I knew that in order to succeed in my future and get the most out of my clinical experiences, it was what I needed to do.”
Alyse Bragg, Shenandoah University nursing student
Bragg is thankful that she didn’t have to abandon her passion for dance upon arriving at Shenandoah, but encouraged others who are considering a similar path to be 100% sure that it’s a path they’re ready to fully commit to.
I would also say that if you are committed to working to balance it, it is one of the most rewarding things in the world. To have lifelong friendships in your creative outlet and to have lifelong friendships in your future career is the best feeling when you’re about to go into the ‘real world.’”