Mason Alumni Making a Difference: Meet Ms. Matthews

Via Ariana Matthews

Ariana Matthews has been dancing since she was three years old, but it’s safe to say that teaching is a fairly new love in her life. Ariana is a recent alumna of Mason, having earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Dance with a minor in African and African American Studies. After graduation, Ariana was offered the opportunity to work at her old stomping grounds--Southern High School in Harwood, Maryland.

In our interview, Ariana shared with me how life post-graduation is, something she wants her students to learn (other than great eight counts) and advice for anyone nearing graduation.

Ariana’s love for dance grew with time and circumstance. She sometimes felt “stuck” and realized that there was nothing else she would rather be doing than dancing. Dancing helped to make her who she is and forced her to grow. Ariana stated that she, “learns so much about herself through dance and falls in love more and more when colleagues and students are appreciative of what she has to offer.”

Dancing has given her the ability to be confident and she knows it will be a part of her life forever.   Via Ariana Matthews

Ms. Matthews, as she is called by her students, is the dance teacher and advisor for five dance classes to students who are interested in the art. She was blessed to have a dance teacher who believed in her dance education and she wanted to provide that same inspiration to students at her high school. Recently, she served as the Artistic Director and Producer at their annual Winter showcase. Her students performed seven original dance pieces all choreographed and taught by her.

Ariana stated that it was a, “humbling experience to put years of education to great use.”

In addition to teaching, Ariana was also recently given the title of Dance Team Director for the Pearls Dance Team. The Pearls Dance Team danced under the Baltimore/Bay Area Shuckers, a semi-professional basketball team in Maryland. Within this role, Ariana will be in charge of holding auditions for the 2018-2019 season, selecting the dance team and choreographing on-court routines for home basketball games. It was always a dream of Ariana’s to dance at the commercial level, especially a local sports team.

Related:  Lija Lusis: Founder of MedLife George Mason

When asked about what she wants her students to learn from her lessons other than just routines, Ariana told me that she wants them to know that “It’s okay to feel like you have failed.”

Ariana also offered advice to people nearing graduation on both the high school and college level.

“Go for it! Try everything! Cry when you feel the need to cry. Take your time. We all move at different paces and perfecting your craft takes time. Just because you may take a little longer to reach your peak of success and others around you may have already done so, you have not failed. Be true to yourself and to that craft, there are no mistakes to your timing and how you choose to get what you desire.”

She shared that we are bound to make mistakes and that we should not allow our mistakes to hold us back from living our best lives.

Ms. Matthews is an inspiration teacher and true example of the good Mason graduates do beyond graduation.