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Florida State University

Tiffany Mellard

Serving through Dance

"We're seeing drastic cuts to arts programs for children in our public schools. So when I dance, I hope everyone sees in me how important the arts are for these children, in all our communities."
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Major: Dance
Graduation: Spring 2011


Born and raised in The Bronx, dancer Tiffany Mellard was a high school senior and not exactly thrilled when her mother announced they were moving to Florida. Tiffany believed her dreams of dancing professionally could only be fulfilled in New York City.

As college decisions loomed, the dance director at her New York high school recommended Florida State University, assuring her that its School of Dance was one of the nation's best. Tiffany applied. That spring, she arrived at FSU for an audition and instantly was blown away by the dance program's prominent faculty and incomparable facilities, which overlooked a lush, green campus filled with friendly, engaged students.

Four years later, the FSU senior is living, thriving proof that a New York-born dancer can find happiness and success in a world-class dance program at a top research university in a laid-back capital city 1,100 miles south of the Big Apple.

"For me, it was love at first sight," Tiffany said. "The School of Dance had everything I wanted, and more. But the university also had a diverse student body, amazing athletics, and tons of activities. Dance was my passion and career choice, but I wanted the 'total' college experience."

She found it at Florida State. In the process, Tiffany earned an FSU "Friends of Dance Scholarship" recognizing talent and academic achievement. And she became a proud member of the Zeta Omicron Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., the oldest Greek-lettered organization established by African-American college-educated women. The AKA mission is service, and Tiffany embraced it in myriad ways.

She served as a dance instructor for FSU's Arts and Community Practice Certificate Program, which incorporates social work, art therapy and dance into community projects for underprivileged children. Through her sorority, she led math and reading tutorials in struggling area schools. She joyfully danced in one fundraiser after another.

One summer, she took her Florida State service ethos back to New York City, where she interned for the non-profit Pathway to the Arts program. She taught African-American dance at public schools in Harlem and her former home, The Bronx.

"Tiffany is one of the most talented dancers in our Bachelor of Fine Arts program, and could easily spend most of her time in rehearsals or on stage, as she is in such demand as a performer," said School of Dance Co-Chairwoman Patty Phillips. "This fact makes her drive to serve those less fortunate all the more commendable, though she's very understated about it. She possesses a natural, quiet grace that makes her approachable and effective in her work with young people."

Dancer Tiffany Mellard knows how the arts open doors, inspiring individuals to pursue their dreams, no matter their circumstances.

"We're seeing drastic cuts to arts programs for children in our public schools," she said. "So when I dance, I hope everyone sees in me how important the arts are for these children, in all our communities."