Senior Katharine Alade wasn’t excited when she first came to Pepperdine.
Adjusting to the ocean and the mountains from the plains of Dallas was one of many life lessons the natural-born dancer has learned in her four years at Pepperdine.
“I appreciate the ocean now,” Alade said. “I didn’t like the ocean before I came to Pepperdine. I didn’t know how to swim.
“But now I appreciate the water, I can go down to the beach and enjoy it so much for,” she continued. “And I think it is because, no, I know it is because I am here for a reason. I came to Pepperdine for a reason. That is what my parents always tell me, I came to Pepperdine for a reason, God put me here for a reason.”
Although it was her parents who made her come to Pepperdine, the sports medicine major is now content with the decision. As one of the premier dancers and finance chair of Dance in Flight, Alade will leave behind her legacy at the university when she graduates in April.
Alade first got involved in Dance in Flight as a freshman, when she was also cheerleading for the school. Since then she has performed in every major show the group has done, sometimes dancing in almost half of the 18 routines. This year she will perform in six dances, two of which she choreographed.
Alade was bit by two dueling bugs as early as age 3.
“I’ve always been torn between a job in the medical field and a job as a dancer, actor,” she said.
Alade plans on pursuing the medical route, hoping to eventually go to medical school. She will take the next year or two off to pursue research and volunteer opportunities in Southern California or Dallas, and then enter into a post-baccalaureate program to prepare for medical school.
Dancing, however, has always been her outlet. She took classes in tap, jazz, ballet and later modern and hip hop from age 3 to 18, and has continued that tradition as much as her schedule allowed throughout college.
Alade said that she was just naturally bouncy as a child, walking around on her tip toes and dancing to her favorite music each night.
“Ever since I was little I’ve tried to emulate videos, like Madonna and Janet are the earliest ones I can think of,” she said. “I would dance around the house to Disney movies. I would dance around the house to commercials, like Juicy Fruit commercials are the first ones I can remember.”
For Alade, dancing was also always a reward for doing well in school.
“Getting good grades was a big deal in my house and if I couldn’t get good grades I couldn’t go to dance.” Alade said. “I always worked really hard.”
Alade has never seriously considered pursuing dancing professionally.
“I wouldn’t mind doing it professionally, but a dancer’s career isn’t very long,” Alade said. “I want something more permanent.
“I’ve considered it in a fantasy way but I have never considered it in a realistic sense of making a career out of it. But I’ve dreamt about it a lot.”
Alade has also been active in Pepperdine’s Student Program-ming Board and in the Catholic Student Association. Her faith is a big part of her life.
“I know that everything I do and everything I say should reflect what I feel inside, should reflect what is in my heart and should reflect on how much I respect myself which was given to me by God,” Alade said. “Of course I am not perfect and no one is, but I try to let my actions speak for themselves. I try to let everything I do be inspired and be inspired by God.”
Her faith was also strengthened this last summer, when she was able to visit the Vatican and attend Mass with the Pope while on Pepperdine’s summer program in Florence.
“That is an experience that no one will be able to take away from me and that no one will be able to understand,” Alade said.
She also was blown away by the field trip to Egypt. There she got to see the pyramids, one of the wonders of the world, take a cruise ship on the Nile and soak in the culture of North Africa. As she is half Nigerian herself — her father migrated to the United States when he was 24 — she enjoyed cultural experience from a different perspective.
“I got to witness other students witnessing what it is like in other countries that are third world,” she said. “… I loved learning about their culture, because their culture is different from the Nigerian culture and different from the American culture. It helped me appreciated how I was brought up and appreciate those people who are comfortable in the culture.”
The experiences were a few of the many life lessons Alade has learned at Pepperdine. She, of course, also learned to swim.
January 24, 2002