by Courtney Cleveland
Sara Jo Ridgeway is a senior education major and captain of the Millsaps Competition Dance Team. Ridgeway has a larger than life personality and wants to become an elementary school teacher once she graduates.
The Purple and White: What’s the last book you read?
Sara Jo Ridgeway: The last book I read (other than my devotionals and the Bible) is a book called Think. It’s a motivational book about using your mind and various mental tricks to achieve your nutrition and physical fitness goals. I loved it. I have read a fair share of health and fitness books and articles, but through the book Think, I learned that in order to have a strong body, your mind must be even stronger.
P&W: Okay, so what’s the most embarrassing thing you’ve ever done?
SJR: I do things every day that most people would consider “embarrassing” because I am kind of clumsy, so I run into things a lot. I’ve learned to laugh at myself though. I recently yelled across a Kroger aisle to get someone’s attention who I thought was my friend, but it turned out to be a complete stranger. Oopsies. My face was as red as a tomato.
P&W: I can only imagine. I probably would’ve hid after that. So, what do you do in your free time?
SJR: Free time? At Millsaps? Just kidding. I like to spend my free time with my friends, but in my “alone” free time, I like to watch dance videos on YouTube. We (the Millsaps Competition Dance Team) are preparing to compete at Nationals, so I watch videos for inspiration any chance I get. I also love to read my Bible and listen to worship music in my room. As much as I love spending time with people, I also love my “me” time.
P&W: There’s definitely not a lot of free time at Millsaps. What are your future goals?
SJR: Oh goodness, I have so many future goals. I want to be an elementary school teacher and maybe move into administration. My hobbies include learning about fitness and nutrition, and I want to delve deeper into my hobbies. I currently teach Zumba, but in a few weeks I am traveling to attain a different fitness certification to start teaching other group fitness classes. I also want to get my personal trainer certification and a wellness/nutrition license. I don’t think I’m ready to give up performing, so I am considering auditioning to be a Saintsations Cheerleader or a Pelicans Dancer next year. My faith life and charity is very important to me, so I see myself being an active member in the church. Whatever I do, I want to make a difference in others’ lives—that is my main goal.
P&W: What’s your favorite memory on campus?
SJR: Early in the fall semester of my freshman year, I was walking to class behind a large group of students. When they got to the middle of the Bowl and approached the seal, the large group simultaneously split into two as they walked around the seal in order to avoid stepping on it. I remember thinking that if someone not affiliated with Millsaps were to see that, they wouldn’t understand what just happened. But us Millsapians know that if you want to graduate, you better not step on that seal.
P&W: What is one thing your family would say about you?
SJR: My family would say I am sweet and that I have a lot of energy. I am constantly on the go. My mom tells her friends that she gets scared if I get bored for even five minutes because I come up with some big project to take on, and normally, my mom has something to do with all the projects I tackle. I am such a mama’s girl. I already told her she is going to help me decorate my future classroom.
P&W: That sounds fun, and I’m sure she’d be willing to help. And what made you come to Millsaps?
SJR: Long story short, it [was] March of my senior year of high school, and I still hadn’t visited any colleges. I was at a “peak” in my dance life—rehearsing every day for hours and winning lots of competitions. I was going to take a year off and move out to a big city to “chase the dream,” but reality set in, and I realized that I wasn’t mature or financially ready enough to live on my own. I visited Millsaps and surprisingly fell in love with it. I say surprisingly because Millsaps has absolutely nothing to do with dance. There isn’t even a dance program here other than a dance team that is still very new and still developing, but for some reason, I felt that God had led me here. Now, three and a half years later, I serve as the captain of the Millsaps Competition Dance Team, and for the first time in Millsaps’ history, we are competing [at] Nationals in Disney World. We have the talent and drive to bring home the first dance team National Championship at Millsaps. Isn’t it crazy how the Lord works?
P&W: It sure is, and what is or has been your favorite class thus far at Millsaps?
SJR: I loved this theater class that I took with Peter Freidrich. I learned how to lead groups through various theater activities, and I plan to use what I learned in his class in my future classroom with my students next year. I am an Honors student, and am studying the effects of a movement-infused curriculum on student engagement at the elementary level. I have loved the journey of doing an honors project. My students better get ready to move.
P&W: How have you changed as a person while at Millsaps?
SJR: I’ve changed in many ways, and I believe all seniors at Millsaps would say they have changed because college is such a life altering experience. Largely, over the last three and a half years, I have really grown in my faith life. I have always gone to church and believed in God, but it wasn’t until college that I felt like I had a personal relationship with Jesus. I’ve learned how important and necessary it is to be kind to others at all times, and to serve whatever community you live in with compassion and love.
The Purple and White would like to thank Sara Jo for taking the time out of her busy day to interview with us! If you or someone you know would like to be featured in the next “Meet the Millsapian” article, you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.