#ElonGrad 2022 spotlight: Madeleine Spence, dance science

In this series, Elon College, the College of Arts and Sciences is shining the spotlight on distinguished members of the Class of 2022 from a wide array of disciplines.

portrait of Madeleine SpenceHonors Fellow Madeleine Spence ’22 was the recipient of Outstanding Senior in Dance Science Award and Outstanding Exercise Science Service Award in spring of her senior year.

Spence assisted the Department of Exercise Science in administrating a diversity and inclusion grant. In April, she was inducted into Phi Beta Kappa.

While at Elon, she served as a teaching and learning assistant in Elon’s anatomy lab and was the dissection team leader for The Elon Anatomy Teaching Assistant Program her senior year. She also assistant with Associate Professor of Exercise Science Matt Wittstein’s Neuromotor Control course. Spence also worked as an apartment manager for Residence Life.

How did you choose your major?

I chose dance science because I grew up dancing and became interested in one day being a dance medicine physical therapist. This major includes many of the physical therapy prerequisite courses while also allowing me to continue my dance education.

Tell us about your undergraduate research project.

My research project was an eight-week educational intervention, mixed methods, multiple case study with female first- and second-year undergraduate Elon students who are dancers as participants. It was titled “A balancing act: Mediating internal and external conditions to create a holistic repatterning approach for dancers.”

I presented at Elon’s SURF Day. In addition, I was just accepted to present this fall at the International Association for Dance Medicine & Science conference.

I selected my topic because I was inspired by the foundational dance courses Somatics I and II, which use cross-training tools and techniques to provide strategies for a dancer’s well-being. My research mentor, Professor of Dance and Director of Dance Science Lauren Kearns, is also the professor and designed this course.

Who was your mentor? How did they make your college experience more valuable?

Professor Lauren Kearns enhanced my Elon experience and mentored me towards my career goals. She has encouraged me, given me great advice and has believed in me since my first time stepping into her office as a first-year. My college experience would have been completely different and much less successful without her!

What are your plans following graduation?

I will be attending Columbia University’s Doctor of Physical Therapy program in the fall.

Which parts of your undergraduate career meant the most?

I am most proud of my research project as well as my work with the TEATAP program. My research project showed me that research is something that I would like to continue for the rest of my career. Additionally, Elon’s anatomy program is truly one of the most supportive, amazing communities on campus and having experience working with human donors was definitely something that I believe allowed me to stand out to the physical therapy schools to which I applied.

What advice would you share with others?

I would advise future Elon students to lean into the vast opportunities Elon has to offer them. If you stumble upon something that interests you, go for it! Elon faculty, staff and students are a driven, excited bunch who are here to support you. Something I wish I had known as a first-year student is that you should be honest with your own limitations and be honest with others if you need extra support. Open, honest communication goes a long way!