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CSU Elite Athlete and Performer Program supports Australian Ballet star

“The thought of having to begin again in a new career around the time that most people are already at the peak of theirs is truly frightening.”

Meet Charles Sturt student and professional ballerina Valerie, who is sharing her inspiring story with us today.

“We immigrated to Australia from Ukraine when I was 6 because of the uncertainty and turmoil after the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991.

“We didn’t have much support or financial resources, but my parents did everything they could to give me more opportunities than they had. And that started with my first ballet class when I was 7.”

Fast forward eight years, Valerie was accepted into The Australian Ballet School at age 15. After graduating she was then accepted into The Australian Ballet where she has danced for almost 15 years.

Her career in ballet meant the focus on her academic education became secondary at a very young age.

“I loved school, but the demands of ballet meant that I had to commence full-time dance training at age 12. For a long time in my training and career I didn’t think about academia at all.

“At the time I didn’t care as I was just happy to dance. But years later when I contemplated studying, my incomplete education really affected my confidence. A dancer’s career is short, which puts us in the unique position of having to retrain and have a second career.”

This is where Valerie’s passion for science sparked a desire to create a world worth living in.

“I’ve always loved animals and nature. For a long time nature was the only thing that relaxed me, took my mind off work and made me feel as happy as being on stage.

“I decided that the best chance for me to make any meaningful change in this world was to first educate myself to the best of my ability so that I can then educate others or work with others to research or develop actions that can mitigate our impacts on the environment.”

Valerie’s ballet commitments of 200 shows a year and 12-hour rehearsals meant that she needed flexibility and support.

“I loved the sound of Charles Sturt’s Bachelor of Environmental Science and Management and the availability to study online via the Elite Athlete and Performer Program, Charles Sturt Uni Sport.

“Since the beginning I felt completely welcomed into university life without even having stepped foot on campus once. I missed out on getting an adequate high school education which made me terrified of university culture and systems, even the structure and language of academia I did not understand.

“It’s been so important to me to have completed half of my degree whilst still able to rehearse, perform and tour with the Australian Ballet. The flexibility this degree allows is indispensable.

“I hope to graduate and transition from a ballet career to a career that will help make meaningful and positive change to our natural environment and the human relationships with it. After years of working in a job that is self-orientated, I want to focus on what I can do to make the world better!”

Thank you for sharing your incredible life story with us Valerie, we can’t wait to see your career transition and be equally as successful as you are now.

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