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From classroom to stage.

For Rashad Ferguson, dance is a powerful way to express himself with no need for words.

Without his experience at AACC, where the 23-year old took his first dance class, he may have never discovered this if he hadn’t caught the eye of. Lynda Fitzgerald. Fitzgerald, coordinator of Performing Arts-Dance and director of the AACC Dance Company, saw him perform for the theater program three years ago and nudged him to take his first class.

“It was good to see someone who believed in me and invested in me,” he said. “It’s opened up a lot of doors.”

He said he loves to express himself in different ways, and dance is an extension of that.

“It's a way to connect you don't really get otherwise,” he said. “Some of the pieces we do in the company touch on things you generally don't in conversation….I think there’s a value to saying what you have to say in silence. You find a lot of things in the physicality of who you are in that moment.”

Seeing other colleges at conferences and other meetings has made him feel confident in the level of training he receives.

“We (AACC) definitely have a lot to offer… and we have a lot of people with avant-garde ideas.”

After his first dance class, the theater major was hooked. The now double major is “full speed ahead” on both academic tracks. “It pushes me, keeps me on my toes,” he said. “I’m a performer at heart.”

After graduating from Arundel High School, he said AACC was the perfect choice. “It’s more affordable, but also, I could sort of explore what I wanted to do,” he said. “It’s been about exploration for me. I’ve found that there's a lot more that I can do as a performer – I can teach, I can tutor, I can mentor.”

Rashad also said he finds mentoring important because he knows what he has gained from his own mentors at AACC.

“They’re just people who have invested in me and I’ve been able to develop an actual personal relationship, “he said. “I found so many mentors here that have inspired me to give that to other people.”

He said AACC has a lot to offer, not just from an educational standpoint, but also where community is concerned. There have been advantages, from the different backgrounds he’s encountered and the opportunities he’s experiences, to even job opportunities. “Professionally, my goals have expanded,” he said. “The networking is particularly important and it’s opened a lot of doors for me.”

Rashad said he’s redefined himself mostly by finding himself at AACC. “I’m trusting myself and allowing myself to experience. I came in thinking one thing about myself, but in receiving all AACC has to offer, I realized there is a lot more that I have and a lot more I’m interested in,” he said. “It’s been a gift.”

The self-declared perfectionist says he’s enjoying the challenge of allowing himself to just enjoy the journey even when he doesn’t feel like he’s at his best. After graduating, he plans on heading to New York or California. “I’m pretty ready to take what I’ve gotten and experience that in other areas. I’m excited about it.”