A Personal Letter To Danceworks as My Time As President Comes To An End

“Congratulations, Tom, you are now officially the President of Danceworks Productions.”

Around a year ago today, I was inducted as President of the most incredible club I’ve every known about. For those of you who don’t know what this club does, let me briefly explain. Danceworks Productions is the largest organization at Hofstra University with over 150 member. It is also a completely student run organization. We audition choreographers and select 11-13 dance pieces which will be in our production. A few days later, we hold dancer auditions where these choreographers show their dances and select their casts after a four-hour process. As the semester continues, each dance has an hour and a half rehearsal once a week leading up to the show.  As all of this work is being done, we participate in multiple social events to build a bond amongst the club and the Hofstra community, as well as a handful of philanthropy events where we raise money for various charities. We, as a club, do this every semester (so twice per academic year). There is no other club on Hofstra University’s campus that does all of this – it’s truly remarkable.

From Fall 2015-Spring 2017 I served as the Publicity and Promotions chair. I promoted the auditions and shows through various mediums, as well as designed all of the apparel for those two years. Following this role, I had the privilege and honor to be President of this incredible club. At the point in time I am writing this, I only have around 24 hours left as President of Hofstra University Danceworks Productions President. As I reminisce about my time at Hofstra, Danceworks has been the heart and soul of why I’ve loved my time at Hofstra University.

I’d like to take the time to write a letter to Danceworks – more specifically the members of this club who I’ve grown from because of their footprints left on my heart. If you were in Danceworks anywhere between 2015 to Spring 2018, this one is for you:

Dear Danceworks,

I’ve dedicated three years of my life to you. I’ve sacraficed a huge part of my free time, missing family events, and breaks within the academic schedule to fulfil my responsibilities to you. I’ve been on call 24 hours/7 days a week for years to jump on any situation I may have to mediate or rectify. Yes, most of the time I’ve had to do things at the most inconvenient times when I wanted to do almost anything else, but in the end, I loved every minute of it.

When I started at Hofstra University, I was a commuter. I absolutely hated it and my first semester I wanted to transfer. I looked into it and started talking to friends who attended other schools around the nation. I knew it was best to finish out the year so I sat on the option of leaving to pursue a different experience away from home. When my second semester started, I decided to audition for Danceworks Productions. At that point, I hadn’t really danced since I was 10 years old; I danced like the Tin Man does when Dorothy first meets him at that first audition. I didn’t get into the show that semester, but I wanted to take advantage of the other 66% you participate in. I hung out with you alone at the first social event and from there, everthing fell into place.

Within a month I was offered a room in an off campus house occupied by your members. I couldn’t believe it and I jumped on the opportunity. I continued to participate in anything I could and I even helped with selling tickets at the shows. I knew this club was something I wanted to be part of regardless of what I was doing. This mentality led me to run for Danceworks Productions executive board as Publicity and Promotions Chair. Long story short, I was elected and then re-elected the following year.

As I mentioned before, I hadn’t danced in a while. I wanted to grow as a dancer, as well as a leader of this club. I practiced and focused a majority of my time at Hofstra to getting better and eventually be casted into the shows. After another semester of not being casted, I had the privledge of being selected into the Spring 2016 and have been since. Once I was casted, I focused my attention on diversifying my abilities away from only doing hip-hop dances to eventually also dancing in contemporary and jazz pieces as well.

A few weeks before the elections for my senior year, I decided to push myself even further and run for President. What? I met you as a below average dancer and now I’m going for President of a dance club? This was no where near what I thought my time in Danceworks would lead to. I wanted to create a higher meaning of this club for myself so this was the perfect opportunity. I worked hard on my speech as I did everything involving you up to that point which resulted in my election as Danceworks Productions President.

My time at Hofstra has taught me five things about myself which I would have never learned if I didn’t audition for this club back in 2015. They are:

DANCE

Like I’ve discussed, I didn’t have a thorough background or training in dance. I took the time to listen to my peers in the club and, from that, I gained a better understanding on how to dance and how to look at dance from a technical standpoint. Your members are among the most talented dancers at Hofstra and this made it easy for me to see how to dance properly through observation and immitation. Thank you, Danceworks, for teaching me how to connect my mind and body, which I’ve applied to all aspects of my life.

PERSISTENCE

Many members don’t get casted into your shows, especially their first semester or two auditioning. This is inevitable and dance is competitive, therefore I had to learn how to take the rejection and grow from it. Many people have problems doing this but when you do, there are many more pros than cons. I learned how to take a “failure” and make it a positive. I didn’t get into the show my first two semesters, one of which I was on the executive board for. I could have dropped the club and sought a different avenue to get involved, but, let’s be honest, doing just that shows immaturity and lack of character. I used this rejection to become an even better dancer than I would have if I stopped trying to get into the Danceworks show. Thank you, Danceworks, for teaching me that failure is an opportunity to be better than if I was successful in the first place.

COMMUNICATION

Being on e-board means we are responsible for the operation of a club of over 150 of your members. Inevitably, I have had to communicate with almost each and every person in the club every year for three years. As President, this duty only increased and I had to mediate hundreds of conflicts and situations. This was extremely uncomfortable at times, especially because I’m friends with most of these people. But my time on e-board has taught me to have those difficult conversations and deal with circumstances I didn’t feel comfortable doing. As I dealt with these particular conflicts, I grew to understand I am capable of having these tricky interactions and have an effective outcome. Thank you, Danceworks, for teaching me how to handle conflicts in a mature and effective manner, especially when it involves friends.

 PRIDE

Imagine auditioning for something you worked really hard on for a year and you got shut down twice already. You’d feel pretty defeated. Now imagine you go into the following audition and get casted into, not only one, but two pieces! I didn’t know it then, but the rejection only allowed me to experience exuberance I would have never felt if I wasn’t shut down beforehand. Taking a step away from focusing on the dancing aspect of the club: the kid who had trouble getting into the shows a few times was elected President his senior year. I know back in 2015, no one ever expected that to happen. As I’m creeping on 24 hours left as President, I am the most proud of myself I’ve ever been. I don’t think I’ve ever been proud of myself until this past year as I’ve constantly reflected on my journey in the club. I believe I’m the only male President of Danceworks in history of the club and I think I’m one of a few, if the only, President of a dance club that didn’t have significant training throughout my life. I’m usually humble but I’m unique in this aspect and that’s an honor to say. Thank you, Danceworks, for teaching me to be proud of myself.

CONFIDENCE

Confidence. I’ve been in leadership positions throughout my middle school and high school careers. I have even taken leadership in elementary school when the teacher was obligated to handle a more crucial situation. I know I am a type A personality, but I’ve never been completely confident. Through all I’ve accomplished and grown as a dancer, friend and leader, I’ve been more aware of my confidence as a person. These past few years have put me in the best and worst positions of my life, but I’m still breathing and after careful reflection, I realized that my confidence has sky-rocketed. I’m taking this confidence and I’m in the process of creating my own business. Without this club, I would have never learned crucial life lessons of rejection, failure, success and discomfort. Thank you, Danceworks, for giving me the confidence to set up my life for success and prosperity.

These are only a few things I’ve learned from participating in Danceworks Productions and working my way to eventually become President. You have given me so many opportunities to grow into the man I am today and I’m beyond grateful for the things I’ve learned through meeting such incredible and talented people along the way. The members of this club have pushed me beyond what I thought I could achieve. This is something I will cherish forever and utilize as I take on the real-world post-graduation. I’ve watched this club become better and better each year and as I leave this organization in the hands of Morgan, I know you’re only going to get better. I cannot wait to see the club grow along with the members of this club. Thank you for everything you’ve given me, Danceworks, and continue to do so for as many people as possible.

With much love,

Tom Fraher

To the members of Danceworks who are graduating, coming back next semester or thinking of joining, you don’t know what you have until it’s (almost) gone. Be mindful of what Danceworks is giving you along the way and reflect on what you’ve taken away from this club. The more meaning you give the club, the further you will grow.

 

A Personal Letter to Hofstra University from a Soon-To-Be Graduate.

When my alarm went off this morning at 10 am (exactly an hour before my class starts), I decided to take the L for the day and miss my first class. I wanted to get to the gym but I didn’t want to go at night. I rested my eyes a little longer then checked my phone. 10:22 am. Alright, fine. It’s the last full week of classes ever and the second to last class for the course. I’ll go… I fumbled out of bed, got ready and dragged myself to class. I shared my mental struggle of the morning with a few classmates as I logged into the Hofstra computer. I’m in a social media and web design class so I’ve spent about 4 hours last week working on my ficticious company’s website home page. My last task of the assignment was to export it and upload it to a website simulator. 5 clicks and I was done! “Could not complete request because an unexpected end-of-file was encountered.” Lit.

My original vision of the day involved getting stuff done and skipping class. A “thriving” type of day one might say. But I changed my mind to go to class. A “responsible” type of day one might say. As the days pass, I catch myself verbally reminding myself how many days I have until graduation. “17 days,” I said as my professor told me to “start over. It’s not that complex.”

Despite the beginning of my day, I had the most amazing 4 years of my life at Hofstra University. I started as a Psychology major to get prerequisites done for a Physician Assistant Graduate Program. After one semester, Hofstra extracted realization I don’t want to fucking do that. (Side note: Professor BIO 12 and Professor Daniels are the reasons I came to this epiphany.) I spent hours in the library and still getting 60s or worse on exams. I don’t take it as I wasn’t smart enough for it, I simply realized that my brain doesn’t think the same way one does in the medical/biology field. I ran with this lesson and swithed my major to Marketing.  From there, my life fell into place.

Appreciation encompasses my feelings towards Hofstra as my time comes to an end here. What better way to show this than write a letter to Hofstra discuss my unfiltered opinions about the university itself? So, here we go.

 

Dear Hofstra University,

First of all, there really wasn’t anything you could do to get the bars back?  I feel like there was definitely some sort of agreement between you and McHebes.  Whatever, I’m not here much longer anyway.  I wanted to take the time to express my gratitude regarding my experience over the last 4 years as a student of this beautiful university.

I want this to be a mainly positive letter, therefore I’ll start with my complaints. Frankly, we all feel like you’re constantly trying to get money out of us. One time you took $4,000 from me without telling me. You also charged me $100 because you didn’t approve my loan efficiently and it didn’t get processed to you until after the due date. Aside from that, I only went to an advisor twice.  During my freshman year, I wasn’t sure how to do my schedule so I went to her to discuss what to do.  She told me to take a spanish credit because my college credit from high school didn’t fulfil the requirement. Guess what, Hofstra, it did. I wasted a semester in Spanish 3. It seems like a tactic to get as much money out of me as possible. Another complaint has to deal with, and I’m sure you get this a lot, the parking. You’re in the process of assembling a building in the middle of one of the parking lots. You had a parking issue to begin with and this construction is not helping whatsoever. Oh, and one last thing, HofUSA used to be tight; now it’s iight. I understand it’s a business and you were probably going to get more money out of it, but you’re thinking short term. You’re beginning to build a poor reputation which will wind up losing you more money in the long-run. Some friendly advice and my opinion as a consumer.

I would also like to share something else. I received an email about a month ago with the headline saying “We’re offering a new course – you may be interested!” Of course, it’s a social media marketing class. Long story short, I’m diving into the social media marketing/management field upon graduation. It’s not your fault, but I spent the last four years getting a degree and the semester proceeding my departure you’re offering probably the most useful class I could have taken; more useful than any class I had to take as an undergraduate student. I’m just being selfish because I understand it is a new and growing industry, therefore I want to thank you for providing this class to students. It could spark their interest in a growing industry and that’s ultimately the goal of college.

With that being said, let’s get back to the main reason I’m writing. Thank you so much for the experiences I’ve had here. I rerouted my career path and I’ve never been more excited about a job. I’ve made friends with hundreds of people who have made an incredible mark on my life. I joined Danceworks, I moved into their home, I became family with members of the club and I currently am the President of the club. This is one of the most impressive college organizations in the world which has taught me tons of things about myself as a person, professional and leader. I’m insanely honored to have worked for this organization and proud of my sucesses. I’ve also recieved an incredible education. Although sometimes many of them are of no interest to me, your courses are tedious and they establish a work ethic I never had before attending. I’m the most confident I’ve ever been in myself as a result of who I’ve become over the years as a Hofstra University undergraduate student.

I appreciate everything you have provided to mold my mindset and life. The friends, knowledge, empowerment, confidence, determination. I’m completely prepared for whatever life throws my way. Unfortunately and inevitably, it’s time for me to go.

Hofstra, we’re going to be homies for life. I will perpetually look back on these past 4 years with fondness and appreciation. Without you, I would have never learned crucial lessons about myself and the world around me. I will succeed because of this experience and for that, I thank you.

Stay Positive,

Tom Fraher

 

Life is about the experiences we have and the lessons we learn from them. The more we learn, the better we evolve as a person.  Hofstra University has given me the experiences I needed to lead a successful life after graduation. Positivity radiates around campus as everyone is waiting for summer. I, however, radiate positivity as I wait to begin my life.

 


 

Are there any other undergraduate students on the verge of graduating or have already? How do you feel about your undergraduate experiences? I’ve been having this conversation with my peers and the positivity keeps me going!

 


 

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