Student Blog: Get involved

August 8, 2017

At USC Kaufman, there are endless ways to get involved–so many, in fact, that one student couldn’t cover them all. So we asked two; in this student blog, Lenai Wilkerson and Kaylin Sturtevant talk us through their activities inside and outside of the studio.

Lenai: There are so many ways to become even more involved in the Kaufman community. Although we spend almost our entire workday in the studios, many of us dedicate those other hours to working in the administrative offices on lunch breaks and in between classes. There are a few different types of student workers at Kaufman. Depending on a student’s strengths and interests, he or she could be hired to work for a number of student worker positions.

Kaylin: As much time as we spend dancing the days away, there are other ways to get involved at USC Kaufman besides just being a student. Actively participating in the many opportunities that USC Kaufman provides helps us continue to shape the program and work to develop the absolute best education we can get.

Assisting in administrative work

Lenai: I work as a student assistant for Admission and Student Services. A student worker may be in charge of cleaning the studios, working at the reception desk, working closely with staff as a student ambassador, or even be in charge of the Kaufman social media. I work for Wilson Vu, Academic Affairs Coordinator at USC Kaufman, and I absolutely love my position. I am able to give Kaufman building tours, converse with prospective students over lunch, help out with events, and organize confidential information for the administration. In all, working for Kaufman has given me incredible opportunities. I have become much more appreciative of all that it takes to develop and sustain a dance program as prestigious as this one.

Kaylin: I was also lucky enough to work as a BFA student assistant throughout the spring semester. My peers and I are able to work in between classes on Tuesdays and Thursdays, during what would normally be our lunch break–another perk to working at USC Kaufman is that our supervisors know our schedules well, and are always able to accommodate them. We make signs and set up for events like the BFA Auditions, we run to the bookstore on campus to pick up materials, and we make various phone calls, among other tasks like building tours and pretty posters. I really enjoyed working for Kaufman; it was a fun way to get an inside perspective on the amazing things that the (extremely creative and cool) Student Affairs team does for our school!

Advisory board responsibilities

Lenai: Kaufman dancers are equipped with a multitude of off-the-dancefloor skills that allow us to be well rounded and sustainable. We are constantly encouraged to be leaders, especially in a developing dance environment such as Kaufman. There is a Student Advisory Board, which consists of peer-selected students, from Kaufman majors, minors, and dance clubs. Members from each are chosen to pose as representative leaders, so students can be involved in the hands-on process of curating a program like Kaufman. I was lucky enough to be selected for the board this year, and it has been nothing short of amazing to be able to help advise and represent the class of 2019.

In these board meetings, along with my peers, we aim to help the administration find efficient ways to interconnect the many dance avenues offered on the USC campus. For instance, we have orchestrated mixers and fun events to bond with non-majors and other dance enthusiasts outside of the BFA program. My job as an advisory board member also includes suggesting improvements or changes to ensure that Kaufman is the best program it can be.

Organizing and other off-the-floor tasks

Lenai: From being so intimately connected with the behind the scenes, I have drawn increasingly close to the administrative side of the arts, particularly in dance. Although Kaufman does not currently hold a dance administration concentration degree, I am becoming more equipped with those off-the-dancefloor skills every dancer needs to be marketable in the dance industry. There are various ways to delve into the business side of the program, because, as I said, there are many ways to get involved further at Kaufman. Even if it’s as simple as volunteering to help with auditions (which is in fact, one of our favorite ways to get involved at Kaufman), Kaufman students understand how much work it takes to run an audition day smoothly, keep the parents from overstressing, and keeping the students in good thoughts. In turn, the administration is very appreciative of our help and we become even more appreciative of this amazing program.

Kaylin: There are also several events hosted by USC Kaufman throughout the year that require assistance by the BFA students as volunteers. Even just a few hours of volunteering contribute to the success of each event, and I love how all of the students are so willing to help their Kaufman family! For example, the BFA auditions in January needed volunteers to get the building ready by setting up signs and laying out snacks, answering questions for parents and prospective students, hanging out with those auditioning as they wait to do their solo…and the list goes on. Meeting new people and sharing my experiences with them made me realize just how lucky I am to be a part of this program, and this family. Another exciting event was Dance On! Week, and my favorite part of that was my “job” which consisted of being a part of a flash mob and dance party in the middle of campus to spread the love of dance at USC. Some of the best volunteer work yet!

Mentorship moments

Kaylin: Finally, the mentor program is a way to stay involved; we have faculty mentorships as well as student-to-student mentorships. At the beginning of the school year, each student is assigned to a faculty mentor to meet with throughout the year, usually on a bimonthly basis. These meetings are very beneficial, and a great way to speak one-on-one with a faculty member and discuss individual progress and other thoughts. As a freshman last year, I also was assigned to a sophomore student mentor, which was more casual but awesome because it was nice to know that there would always be a peer who had already been through the program for a year. Each set of student mentorships was handled differently and run strictly by the students. It overall was a great way to unite the two classes. We really are a family at USC Kaufman, and I love that I get to share my love for dance with these people.