Aaron R.
Department of Dance

As the eldest of 11 kids, Chicago native Aaron R. White (BFA, Dance, '11) assumed from an early age that higher education was out of reach. Passionate about dance, he sent in college applications but didn't expect to enroll.

Not only was he admitted to the University of Illinois Department of Dance, but he was also awarded a four-year, full-tuition scholarship.

"Being able to attend Illinois, and being exposed to so many types of people, ideas, and a broader cultural understanding, opened up my world in a huge way," he said. "It opened up my life to what is possible."

Bolstered by his education and an entrepreneurial spirit, Aaron is making a living as a professional dancer. His travels have taken him to Montreal, New York City, and Philadelphia to perform, choreograph, and teach master classes to dance and theatre students. He recently returned to Illinois to choreograph for the Department of Theatre.

"It's so important for people to have the opportunity to attend college. My life would not be as rich, as full, and as beautiful if I had not had this chance."

Inspired to Give

Inspired by Aaron's story, donors Dirk Mol and Jerry Wray recently established the Aaron R. White Scholarship. Part of the No Debt for Dancers campaign, this merit-based award will support underrepresented/minority first-year dance students. Learn more about the award.

Photo by Brendan Best and Ryan Hagan