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  • Dr. Donna M. Dopwell

On Finding and Following One's Path

On the evening of November 22, Dr. Ariana Postlethwait and I had the opportunity to watch a show put on by dance students on our university's campus. The dances were complex and engaging, and I would be glad to attend another. However, I would not have even been aware of the show had a student named Jordin Davis not invited me. After the show, it occurred to me that the story of Jordin's journey to follow her path should be told.

Jordin Davis (left), Dr. Ariana Postlethwait (right), and me after the show.

I first met Jordin at the start of the Fall 2018 term. She was a student in two of my classes in the Department of Social Work. Throughout the semester, I realized that Jordin was intelligent, passionate and kind. I also noticed that her joy seemed to leave her as the semester went on. I spoke with her a number of times, and through our conversations I learned that Jordin had a desire to help people, and that she wanted to accomplish this through dance.


Over time, Jordin and I spoke on her role in Social Work, possibilities for Dance Therapy, and what she needed to do in order to move toward her future. At the end of the Spring 2019 semester, Jordin came to several members of the Social Work faculty and voiced her desire to switch her major from Social Work to Dance. She was concerned that to do so would mean that she would lose our support.


I thought that the change was a brilliant idea. I had seen Jordin dance, and witnessed her coaching others to learn dance routines. I have not seen her light shine brighter than when she is conducting some dance-related activity. So, while I was sad that Jordin would not be around the Department of Social Work as often, I was so glad for her. Jordin had already found her path well before she met me. Now she was finally able to understand that she had permission to follow her path. As for support from the department, Jordin learned quite quickly that we still hold her as part of the Social Work family, and she is always welcome.


On November 22, Dr. Postlethwait and watched Jordin dance. When I saw her up on the stage, I witnessed someone who was at home, in her own element, a natural. Jordin had found herself, and she was embracing her light. It was palpable; undeniable. It was amazing to witness!


I often tell my students that I want to help them find their paths, their bliss. I am doing the work I have wanted to do since I was young, and I am happy, joyful, and grateful for that. Though I enjoy social work, research, and teaching, it is not my desire to force anyone to take a path which they do not choose for themselves. I enjoy discussing student professional needs and passions, and using such information to help students to clarify their futures.


Everyone has the right to find her own path. No one has the right to force another person toward a different path and away from what they are meant to do. Jordin has found and embodied her path. Now it's your turn.

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