As part of her remarks at the commencement ceremonies on Sunday, December 17, NIU Acting President Dr. Lisa Freeman highlighted interesting stories of a graduate from each college.  This is the story she shared of the College of Visual and Performing Arts’ Christina Mancuso.

Christina Mancuso

Christina Mancuso

You can’t be a dancer without great balance, and Christina Mancuso is proof of that.

Her journey to her BFA in Dance wasn’t always smooth. Christina first came to NIU in 2006 but in her own words she didn’t really know what she wanted, and she gave up.

She took a break from dancing, and eventually earned a bachelor’s in kinesiology from Elmhust College in 2009.

Christina worked as a nanny, did office work, and taught dance at her local YMCA.

It may sound corny, but a trip to see “The Nutcracker” rekindled her desire to dance.  So, she summoned the courage to return to NIU, now in her 30s.

Undaunted by being surrounded by 18 and 19 year olds in the program, she excelled in the classroom and the studio, and suddenly found herself in an unexpected situation.

That of a role model.

Christina says she strives to spread encouragement and positivity to her classmates who might get bogged down by the pressures of college life.

Her message to them is to follow their dreams, and she hopes they see her as proof that you can do whatever you want if you have the right mindset and drive to do it.

With her two bachelor’s degrees Christina is excited that her return to NIU has served to open doors in ways she couldn’t have imagined.

Her unique expertise and versatility is giving her the opportunity to fuse exercise and the performing arts, and impart a few life lessons along the way.