Dance has been an escape from the stress of life for neuroscience senior Elizabeth Cousins, of Oak Ridge, Tennessee. As the daughter of a professional dancer, growing up in the studio instilled in her a lifelong love for the art. Even though she was studying neuroscience in the College of Arts and Sciences, her passion for dance didn’t dissipate as a freshman at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. She auditioned and was selected for UT’s BOSS dance company, a student organization that practices a variety of dance styles.
Each audition cycle, Cousins noticed students leaving the tryouts without a place in the company, and as UT’s only student dance organization, she saw lost opportunities for students to be involved in dance. Interested in returning to ballet, in 2020, Cousins and her friends organized VOLS en Pointe, a sports club dedicated to ballet that is open to experienced dancers and interested novices.
Through the organization, Cousins has been able to spread her love of dance to the next generation by volunteering at Knoxville’s Emerald Youth Foundation. Once a week, the club provides the opportunity for young children to learn ballet. “Some kids never have the opportunity to learn dance, and we wanted to show them how much fun it can be. We are very relaxed with the kids. It’s all about having fun, learning a healthy way to exercise, and enjoying spending time together.
“To me, being a Volunteer means giving yourself to others and also trying to help the community, which has been a really big goal of VOLS en Pointe. It means reaching out to help other people in your community and not just focusing on yourself.”
In addition to her work through VOLS en Pointe, Cousins has dedicated her time to geriatric patients through UT’s Families, Anxiety, Cognition, and Treatment Lab; Genesis Neuroscience Clinic; and Brain Exercise Initiative. In the fall, she will continue her studies through a clinical neuropsychology doctoral program at Kent State University.
“It feels very exciting to be graduating, but it’s been a great four years and I’m really going to miss UT. It’s exciting all the same to know how well they’ve prepared me for the future.”
This spring, the university will award approximately 4,825 degrees—3,548 undergraduate degrees, 1,065 graduate degrees and certificates, 121 law degrees, and 91 veterinary medicine degrees. Additionally, 17 Air Force ROTC cadets will be commissioned along with 22 Army ROTC cadets. Five socially distanced commencement ceremonies will take place in Neyland Stadium. See the commencement website for details.
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