When she is not practicing six days a week as a member of NC State’s Dance Team, Knightdale’s Allysa Clagett is preparing to one day become a pediatric psychologist
Q: A 2012 graduate of East Wake High and now a sophomore at North Carolina State University, you are a member of N.C. State’s Dance Team. How did the interest in dance come about and were you a member of your high school’s dance team?
A: East Wake didn’t have a dance team, but I feel like I have been dancing my whole life. I took classes at the Cary Ballet Conservatory and I danced there for six years.
Q: So as a little girl, you dreamed of being a ballerina?
A: I did. I really liked ballet and I wanted to grow up and become a prima ballerina. I would watch performances, like on Youtube, of the New York City Ballet. I have always wanted to go see them perform the Nutcracker. There was another dancer at the Cary Ballet Conservatory who also wanted to become part of the New York City Ballet and she was asked to join at 18.
Q: The N.C. State dance team’s moves are quite different than those of a ballerina.
A: I always liked ballet but I was always better at jazz, and after taking dance classes all my life, I wanted something different so I went out for the dance team. I had never done anything like that so I was really glad when I made it. Every year, dance teams from colleges across the nation compete in Daytona and we ranked in the top five in the nation last year.
Q: What college usually takes the top honors?
A: That would be Penn State. They have finished first the last two years. USC is also really good, but you see colleges from all over come to compete. ECU is there, James Madison in Virgina. Maybe when I leave college, I can be a cheerleader for the Dallas Cowboys, or the Panthers.
Q: Standing on the sidelines at N.C. State games, you must have learned a lot about college sports – any surprises?
A: We perform at both the football and basketball games. We really don’t come in contact with the players a lot but it is neat to stand on the sidelines and watch the games up close. It has been interesting for me to watch how close and how well they all work together as a team. Watching State beat Duke at home in basketball this year was great. And in football this year, I remember being at the State/Maryland game and Maryland beat us pretty bad. At the end of the game, some of our players and the Maryland players met on the field and kneeled down and said a prayer together. That just blew me away, to see great sportsmanship like that.
Q: You were involved in many clubs and civic organizations, like National Honor Society and student council, at East Wake. Are you involved in similar organizations at State?
A: Not as many as I would like. With dance and classes, that is about all I have time for. Staying on top of your classes and keeping grades up is my first priority. I did interview to be an orientation leader and I was accepted so I will be giving incoming freshmen tours of the campus and helping them out.
Q: Why an orientation leader?
A: I struggled my first semester so I would like to help freshmen through their first months as well.
Q: What did you struggle with? Did having freedom interfere with grades?
A: No, nothing like that. I was really homesick my first semester. I know I wasn’t far from home but it was such a change for me. I am the only child and I am really close to my parents so being in college was quite an adjustment. I was always told that college would be the best four years of your life so I never expected to be so homesick. It is also something a lot of freshmen might be scared to admit. As an orientation leader, I would tell them that it is more common than you think.
Q: Are you still hoping to become a prima ballerina or have your career goals changed?
A: I really want to work in a hospital as a pediatric psychologist to help kids and their families.
Q: Usually, when a young person makes a decision like that, it is based on a personal event in their lives or it is based on an event that happened to someone close to them. What inspired you to want to work with children?
A: My family moved here from Virginia when I was in the sixth grade. Not long after we moved here, my dad was in a motorcycle accident and suffered a traumatic brain injury. He was in ICU for a while and then he was in rehab. It was a scary time. His memory was affected and it took him a while before he recovered. The neurologist that helped him also helped me to understand what was going on with my dad. I was really impressed with him. I thought it would be great to assist children and their parents get through difficult times like that. I would love to have that same kind of positive impact on a child who is frightened about what is going on.
Correspondent Dena Coward