CPS '20

Choreographing a Balance Between Ballet and Education

“The College of Professional Studies offers options to take your courses online,” says Dawn Atkins, a 2020 graduate of the College of Professional Studies, with an elated tone and aura of passion equivalent to the one she holds for ballet. The 2013 Princess Grace Award nominee states “with the requirements of my job day-to-day, [flexibililty] was really important…I was able to plan my coursework for the week and made sure that it worked with whatever was happening at work.”

Atkins, who is currently based in Miami, is no stranger to dancing and the art of ballet—she began practicing at the age of four, just outside of her hometown in Vermont. This proved to be merely a training ground as she steadily climbed her way through the local ballet ranks. By 2011, she officially joined the Boston Ballet company, having roles in distinguished shows like The Sleeping Beauty and Giselle.

While participating in the Boston Ballet, Atkins was able to enroll in Northeastern University’s College of Professional Studies, ultimately achieving a degree in business management. Given her intensive work and practice schedule, finding an educational sanctuary that allowed for flexibility was a driving factor in her decision to continue her education at Northeastern. “As I was graduating high school and starting work as a ballet dancer, I was of the mindset that I was going to have to shelf my education,” says Atkins. “When I learned about Northeastern University and the options that they had, I realized that ‘Oh, I can do this as well.’”

While getting her degree, 80% of Atkins’s tuition was covered to give her the opportunity to pursue her degree, thanks to a partnership with the Boston Ballet and Northeastern to help dancers pursue higher education. “The company, in general, was passionate about facilitating something to help us,” she says. “They wanted us to pursue an education…I remember thinking that I would be kicking myself if I didn’t do this.”

Atkins’ move to Miami comes at a great time—Northeastern has recently introduced a new campus in the heart of the city with a focus on the same real-world flexibility that Atkins experienced. “I love that they’re doing that,” says Atkins with a smile after learning about its opening. “I just think that it’s such a great program that it’s great if they’re able to reach more people.”

With the pressures of my line of work, it was nice to know that I could still have flexibility with [my schedule and education].”

Dawn Atkins Cps’20