Caitriona Quirk, Dance

On May 14, UW–Madison will celebrate its Spring 2022 Commencement. We reached out to a few of our students who are graduating from programs in the School of Education to learn about their favorite UW–Madison memories and future plans. Following is a Q&A with Caitriona Quirk (they/them), who is graduating with a bachelor’s degree in dance. 

Photo of Caitriona Quirk
Caitriona Quirk

What is your major, and how did you choose it? 

I will be graduating with a BS degree in dance and a Pilates certificate. I have always wanted to go into the medical field, and since you can have any major and pursue a medical path, I chose to go with the major that made me feel challenged. Since I started dancing at 16, I was over a decade behind my peers when I got to UW, but my dance experience has taught me resilience, trust, and determination. I chose Pilates as my certificate to give me a kinesthetic experience with somatics and anatomy. 

What was your most meaningful experience at UW–Madison?

My most meaningful experience at UW–Madison is either the completion of my Pilates certificate or my research through the Senior Honors Award. Both of these experiences have given me extraordinary experiences with my own mind-body connection and learning how to use our bodies to find resilience. My research was on the somatic experience of fear and discomfort, and through this journey, I developed a study, produced documentary-style videos, and presented a concert. These opportunities have taught me how to dream and create a reality I never expected.

What class or professor had the greatest impact on you, and why?

Natalie Zervou was my overseeing professor in my research following two classes I took with her. Zervou’s classroom instruction was engaging as I learned about dance history and developed my writing. The way she taught made me think more critically and helped me develop confidence in my education. Her insight during my research has been nothing but supportive and I could not have done it without her.

"Don't forget to live your life while you are pursuing your education. Go on a hike! Learn how to make kombucha. Get a pet. Your textbooks will still be there after you practice self-care."

What advice would you give to incoming students? 

Don’t forget to live your life while you are pursuing your education. Go on a hike! Learn how to make kombucha. Get a pet. Your textbooks will still be there after you practice self-care. These four (plus) years are so important to explore what’s out there. Don’t be afraid to take a class or join a club you know little about. You are here to learn, and that includes about yourself!

Photo of dancer outsideWhat’s next for you? What are your plans for the future? 

Following the production of my concert in May, I will be thru-hiking the Arizona Trail. In the fall I will come back to take a few more classes to get me ready for the next thing: I will be pursuing a career in nursing with an emphasis on wilderness and adventure medicine. In the meantime, I will also be developing my Pilates teaching to include a focus on outdoor recreators and athletes.

What are your favorite “hidden gems” on campus or in Madison?

My favorite spot on campus would be Picnic Point. I have loved hiking and running that trail every season. A little off-campus, my favorite spot would be the Arboretum. Nothing makes me feel more grounded when I’m stressed about finals than taking a walk or dancing around those trails.

Read more student stories from 2022 graduates

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