By Amanda Wallin
For this addition of “Counselor by Day” we’ll be hearing from Mike Lavigna, Admission Counselor at Dominican University of California and his passion for Line Dancing.
Amanda Wallin (AW): Mike, please tell us, what is your “other” field of interest?
Mike Lavigna (ML): My other field of interest is country western line dancing and two stepping. Line dancing is a choreographed dance that multiple people know how to do while two stepping is a freestyle form of partner dancing. A typical line dancing club plays a set of four line dances and then opens it up to four two step dances and repeats that pattern throughout the night.
AW: How did you get involved in this field?
ML: I got involved in this field about five years ago when I had just graduated college and was unemployed. I was looking for a cheap hobby and one of my friends that knew I liked country music suggested I go with her and some friends. Immediately I got hooked as it was something that I could do weekly for $5 and involved socializing with a whole new network of people that I didn’t know before. Being an ex-athlete I enjoyed the exercise component of the hobby. I’ve been doing it once a week ever since.
AW: What is something we may not know about this field?
ML: A lot of people might not know that there are a lot of line dances to non-country songs. A lot of pop icons such as Justin Timberlake, Bruno Mars, Michael Jackson, Kesha, DNCE, and many others have line dances choreographed to their specific songs.
AW: What drew you to the field of higher education?
ML: What drew me to the field of higher education is I’ve always been very passionate about helping people. I’ve got several Jesuit degrees and truly believe in a life of service to others.
Working with people who are trying to better themselves and their career paths appealed to me as a way to accomplish the Jesuit mission. I originally worked with student-athletes and helped them with life skills. While doing this in graduate school a part-time admissions job opened up and I fell in love with the work. When Dominican University of California had a full-time counselor role open up I jumped at the chance to apply and have been with Dominican almost a year.
AW: How does your experience in another field help you in your role within higher education?
ML: Outside of my experience working in student affairs I have a lot of experience working events and doing development. I used to be a production assistant with the PAC-12 networks and learned how a game is organized to be broadcasted which has been extremely helpful in helping plan yield events with my colleagues. Additionally, having worked with the Wooden Athletic Fund and helping with donor events has taught me a lot about customer service. Working at a small private university, I pride myself on giving individual attention to all of my prospective students as they walk through the admissions process. Understanding that my students are investing a lot into their education, I know they are expecting to get guidance through each step of their college experience, which includes the admissions cycle.
AW: Anything else you think we should/would want to know?
ML: Prior to picking up this hobby I was never a dancer, being too shy to try. The Southern California line dancing community that I learned from is extremely friendly and made it easy to shake off my shyness and pick up on the dances. I’d highly recommend it to anyone that likes doing something athletic, social, and it doesn’t require a ton of funds to have a good time.
Thank you to Mike for sharing his experience with us!
P.S. If any of you out there have stories you want to share, please don’t hesitate to contact me!