:: Full-time Ballerina Reaches Her Academic Goals

Posted: May 2008


UEX Helped a Full-time Ballerina Reach Her Academic Goals

Julie Janecka began her professional ballet career at the age of five, dancing a small role in Tchaikovsky’s “The Nutcracker.” Her short time on the stage sparked a deep love of the performing arts, leading Julie to a lifelong study of dance. Her growing talent propelled Julie from her hometown of Victoria to Austin where she studied at Ballet Austin while attending The University of Texas at Austin. Julie credits University Extension (UEX), a component of Continuing and Innovative Education, for allowing her to pursue a full-time dance career while accomplishing her academic goals.

How did taking courses at University Extension help you reach your academic goals?

I was dancing as a trainee with Ballet Austin right out of high school, but I always put a high value on earning a college degree. Knowing I wanted to finish a degree after my dancing career, I needed to start school and get my basic courses underway. University Extension made this possible. When I started school, I was dancing 9 to 5 and needed to find night classes. At first, I was so discouraged that I couldn’t find classes that began after 5 p.m. Then I found UEX on the UT Austin website and discovered I could take night courses through UEX and have them count towards my GPA. I was ecstatic! In the summer, I also took advantage of UEX online courses to get ahead. Because of UEX, I am now one year away from graduating early at the university.

You took both evening classroom and online courses through UEX. Did you prefer one type of course to another?

Honestly, they were both great experiences. Once you know yourself as a student, you learn whether you prefer working in a classroom setting or online. I enjoyed the in-class experience because it was a small atmosphere and I came to know each-and-every student. The smaller class allowed for a more personal relationship with my professor as well as my peers. I am currently taking two online courses through UEX that I started in fall 2007 and will end July 2008. The length of time allowed for the online courses allows an individual to go at their own pace and still save time for other needs in their life.

What were the classes like? Were they what you expected?

These classes are of the same caliber as what anyone would expect from a prestigious university course at UT Austin. The benefits include a more personal relationship with the professor, a great selection of courses, and an ability to have a more flexible schedule. I was a little afraid and hesitant of these courses at first, but I now find myself looking for what UEX course I can take next to achieve my degree!

What are you studying and what do you plan to do upon graduation?

I will graduate May 2009 with a degree from the College of Education in Youth and Community Studies with a Minor in Dance from the College of Fine Arts. I decided upon an education degree because I love teaching and working with children. (I taught a children’s dance class while at Ballet Austin.) When exploring my degree options, I found the Youth and Community program gave me a greater understanding of children and how to work with different communities and populations. Ultimately, I’d love to fuse my dance background with education and bring more fine arts teaching to inner city schools.

Do you have any advice to someone considering taking a course with University Extension?

I would recommend UEX to a student who is behind on courses or even right-on-track and looking for an extracurricular course. I would also recommend UEX to anyone trying to achieve a degree, but who has a busy work schedule or children. The flexibility of these courses is great and allows you to take courses on your own terms. Just don’t think these courses are an “easier” way around a college class, because you will indeed put in the work. Keep in mind that when it comes to earning your degree, anything great is worth the extra effort.


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