Law student, modern dancer marries passions, enjoys career


Students often believe life comes down to a choice: a stable career in a field you loath, or shunting security and following your passion. The former lets you buy insurance; the latter will (hopefully) fulfill you.

But the truth is, you can be completely in love with what you do, and have it serve you financially. It requires extra work, time and a willingness to give yourself to your career. It’s also worth it. Money matters, but you don’t need to use that money to buy happiness if you can go to work happy.

“What if you just had to go for it?” asked Kathy Dunn Hamrick.

Dunn Hamrick is the owner of Kathy Dunn Hamrick Dance Company, a modern dance company in its 16th year. She stands among numerous Austin examples of turning your passion to a viable career.

“When I’m working in the studio, that is where I feel I am my most complete self,” Dunn Hamrick said.

But funding her passion is a challenging process.

“I survived by writing grants,” Dunn Hamrick said.

The grants, she said, get consistently more competitive and less lucrative. She starts with nothing every year, then writes grants, teaches, seeks business sponsors and asks for private donations.

From high school, she took some of the money she’d saved for college and traveled to France to study under her teacher’s teacher, a Russian ballet instructor in Toulouse. When she returned, she got her bachelor’s degree in both Dance and French at University of Texas at Austin. She then switched to Florida State University for her master’s in Performance and Choreography.

She founded her dance company in 1998. Since then, her choreography has constantly evolved as she refines what she wants to say.

“It’s where I do feel like the engines are just running on high. And I don’t want to stop. I resist the fact that I want to eat, or go to the bathroom, or run an errand,” Dunn Hamrick said.

Dunn Hamrick has figured out how to make her passion work in the real world. But many people never get that far. The life-or-death emphasis on a stable career begins in high school, and people often choose life.

A 2013 Gallup poll showed that from 2011-12, only 13 percent of workers worldwide felt engaged in their jobs. “Engaged,” meaning passionate, happy, fond of their employers, and willing to work hard.

More than 80 percent of the global workforce goes to work every day wishing they were elsewhere. 

Majoring in what you love doesn’t have to mean sacrificing financial stability. Living out your passion might just require an effort you didn’t know you could make.

Juhi Tariq is a St. Edward’s alumna and current graduate student at the American University in D.C.

 She’s working on both her Master’s in International Relations and Affairs, and her law degree.

Law students face a seeming 16,000 years of school, and the fact that they likely won’t earn an income to justify the expense. 

Additionally, lawyers are weighed down by stigmas – immoral, cold and inhuman, among others.

She’s doing it anyway. What’s her reasoning?

“I wanted to be a lawyer,” Tariq said.

Her interest in law school solidified during her legal ethics course at St. Edward’s. 

“I loved examining the court’s reasoning and how it came to a particular decision,” Tariq said.

According to Tariq, American University is exactly where she wants to be.

“I’m happy. There are little moments here and there that reaffirm my decision, that remind me that I’ve been able to accomplish things that I wouldn’t otherwise have been able to,” Tariq said.

She knows the intense effort that got her here is one she’ll have to maintain to have the life she wants.