HCC student up for top academic team

February 03, 2006|by TIFFANY ARNOLD


Rachael McLoud has never received a grade lower than 79 percent and she's only missed the honor roll twice in her life.

Yet she never intended to go to college.

"I had always planned on being a ballet dancer all my life," McLoud, 21, of Hagerstown, said.

The second-year student at Hagerstown Community College was nominated by the school for the All-USA Academic Team and will join nearly 2,000 other nominees competing for the honor.

The All-USA Academic Team includes 60 academic standouts from two-year colleges. The top 20 students, determined by a ranking system, each receive a $2,500 stipend. The team will be announced Feb. 18.


Three Maryland students made the All-USA Academic Team last year, according to the Web site for Phi Theta Kappa, an international honor society for two-year schools.

Loretta Thornhill, HCC's Phi Theta Kappa adviser, introduced McLoud, a foreign languages major, to the school's board members in January.

Thornhill said McLoud was chosen because of her grades and participation in campus activities.

"My entire life, I never saw myself doing anything other than dance," McLoud said.

McLoud, who is originally from upstate New York, was an accomplished dancer. She said she studied at The Ballet Center of Ithaca and performed with the Ithaca Ballet Company.

She said she trained five hours a day during the week and 12 hours on the weekends. But a career as a professional dancer was not in the cards, McLoud said.

"It didn't make me happy anymore," she said. "I realized that there were more times that I was in the studio and I didn't want to be there than the days I wanted to be there."

McLoud said she had been dancing since she was 4. She moved to Hagerstown after she graduated from high school.

McLoud hasn't completely given up dance. She's a guest artist at the Chambersburg Ballet Theater Company, where she's held solo and principal roles. She also serves on the dance company's board.

"She's such a beautiful dancer," said Lavinia Reid, the company's artistic director and founder.

Reid, who used to teach McLoud when she lived in New York, said she's watched her develop over the eight years she's known her.

"I was sure she was going to go into ballet," Reid said.

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