Priscilla Olson’s Dance

One Student’s Journey of Discovering Her Passion for Fashion

“What do you want to major in?”

Every student will, at one point or another, be faced with this daunting question. Many students know exactly what they want to do in school — some have a general idea, others come in undecided. But for UA student Priscilla Olson, the answer to this question is a slight bit differently and takes a little bit of time to explain.

Olson is a junior at the University of Alabama majoring in Apparel and Textile with a concentration in Design. Already wowing people with her mouthful of a major, Olson leaves people wanting more information when she tells them more specifically about her minor or more importantly what her minor entails.

What makes Olson such a unique attribute to UA is that she is the only student on campus minoring in Dance Communications. Olson, through UA’s New College, planned and proposed the creation of her own minor. “It is very interesting”, says Olson as she describes exactly how her newly curated minor coincides with her major in the Fashion Department.

Photo of UA student Priscilla Olson

UA student Priscilla Olson

Olson explains that Dance Communication allows her to gain knowledge in a different way, the way that the body moves with different materials and designs and how to precisely communicate that knowledge with her designs with her future partners and colleges.

“Every semester, I just take a few additional courses in dance and communication that add up to my self-designed minor and help me see new things to use in my major field of study”, says Olson.

Dance Communications is exactly what it sounds like: dance and communication. It is not a simple journey to successfully craft and execute your own minor, and it is not a road commonly traveled. When discussing her journey of designing her unique minor, Olson says that “[it] is a lot of thinking and a lot of critical thinking, of just sitting down with yourself and really, really considering it”. Olson says that in the beginning stages of the formation of the Dance Communication major, her peers questioned why she could not simply double major in Dance or in Communications. However, unfortunately in such differing fields, the classes do not have much overlap. As for just becoming a Dance minor, the option no longer exists on UA’s campus. So, Olson used her determination and curiosity to take the initiative needed to begin the process of planning her new minor.

Planning a New College self-designed minor is not an easy task. Before proposing their idea to the New College Director, Julia Cherry, students must submit a proposal that names the minor, explains the focus of the minor, and identifies the areas of inquiry included in the minor, shows how the minor will include classes from two or more departments/disciplines, explains why the proposed classes constitute an integrated course of study and explains why this course of study cannot be pursued via an existing minor. So, needless to say, the curating your own minor is definitely not an easy task, but it is well worth it to get to have the opportunity to study exactly what you are passionate about.

“Also, the professors in each of my fields are so helpful with coordinating with my unique circumstances”, says Olson.

Olson explains that having such a personalized area of study, she is able to make personalized connections with her professors and professionals in her department.

“Having the connections that I do with professors in such different fields gives me amazing opportunities and advantages. They know my name and know exactly what I need to be successful,” says Olson as she describes those one-on-one connections that she has been able to make.

Photo of Priscilla Olson shuffling through some of her designs

Priscilla shuffling through some of her designs

Aside from helping Olson navigate the dense course catalog to decide which courses are best suited for her, professors are able to help her make connections with the outside world. After hearing about her unique area of study “professors are so full of questions and full of networking recommendations such as major fashion design brand Betsey Johnson”. Olson describes her fashion professors as being intrigued when she delves into the complexity of her future degree, but she loves to tell them about her studies and how she plans to just her specialized major to help her reach her big dreams for the future.

“I have both long-term goals and short-term goals,” says Olson. A former member of the Disney College Program, Olson dreams of going back to Walt Disney World to perform in parades and shows because of her passion for dance and for movement, but that is not her long-term goal.

Priscilla Olson has a long-term goal that will melt the heart on many and prove that the struggles of designing her own minor are well worth in. Olson dreams of owning her own business that specializes in design on dresses, but most importantly wedding gowns, that “make any person in need of a gown feel absolutely beautiful-regardless of things such as skin tone, illnesses, or disability”.

“When they wear my dresses, I want all of that to be gone; I want them to be absolutely confident and feel truly beautiful”.

While Olson describes her future goals and how much they mean to her, it’s not hard to see why she is so dedicated to making sure her area of study is absolutely perfect. Her desire to help those feel unabashedly beautiful in their own skin is something to be admired.

Photo of Priscilla Olson posing with one of her in-progress designs

Priscilla poses with one of her in-progress designs

Being passionate about your area of work and working towards achieving your dreams is something that no amount of hard work and critical thinking should come in the way of. Something we can all learn from Priscilla Olson is that in order to achieve your big goals, you sometimes have to find a way to do the seemingly undoable. You need to be dedicated to your dreams. And, you need to be passionate about what you do.