Posting Date: April 22, 2010

Meet Stacey Caren: Beating the odds

By Tabatha Wahlquist

Stacey Caren

Photo by Linda Tincher

Stacey Caren and Britani Edwards performing

Photo by Robert Pack

Kennesaw State University dance student Stacey Caren’s academic career was nearly derailed two years ago when she was diagnosed with cancer at the age of 21. A routine appendectomy revealed a tumor in the wall of Stacey’s appendix. “It was shocking,” recalls Stacey, “I was in the hospital for nine days, and the doctors removed 17 lymph nodes.” Stacey took the semester off to recover and did not dance for a year. She has now been in remission for two years, and last October she was given a clean bill of health. Since returning to KSU, Stacey is not only continuing her studies in dance, but she is also double majoring in nursing.

“When I started taking classes at KSU, there was only the minor in dance, so I just took some dance classes,” explains Stacey. “After the creation of the dance major, I decided to do a double major.” It’s hard work, but Stacey is glad to be a part of the KSU Program in Dance. “There is a lot of camaraderie because everyone supports one another. It’s just a healthy place to grow and learn,” says Stacey. Stacey credits Director of the Program in Dance Ivan Pulinkala for all that he has done for the program. “He built the program single-handedly. He runs it all, and he is such a great mentor."

Stacey, however, considers her mother to be her greatest source of inspiration. “My mom signed me up for dance when I was three,” explains Stacey. The family moved to Georgia from Massachusetts when she was six. “She has been my backbone through everything,” says Stacey, “driving me to classes and other places. She is my main inspiration.” With the support of family, faculty and friends, Stacey has secured a well-rounded dance career at KSU.

Last fall, Stacey joined the KSU Dance Company and performed in the production of “Chakra.” She explains, “I did not realize just how much time and work and energy went into something like this until I was a part of it." Stacey was also asked recently to join the student advisory committee of the Department of Theatre, Performance Studies and Dance.

Two years ago, Stacey’s career could have come to a tragic end, but through her strength and perseverance, she recovered and is now roughly a year away from graduating with a double major. As for future plans, Stacey has not thought that far into the future. “I just want to take my time so that I can give each major my full attention,” explains Stacey. She is happy to be back on the stage, doing what she loves. “I couldn’t see myself not dancing. It’s all I know."




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