Quick Step to Scholarships

Photo By
Lynn Chen Zhang

Local leaders soft-shoe, waltz, and whirl to support student aid.

Organization: Western Michigan University Department of Dance

Event: Dancing with the Stars

Date: Saturday, October 27, 2018

Time: 7:30 P.M.

Location: Miller Auditorium, 2200 Auditorium Drive, Kalamazoo, MI 49008

Lynn Chen-Zhang

  • Partner and COO of Zhang Financial
  • Member of Western Michigan University (WMU) Board of Trustee
  • Vice President of the WMU Foundation’s Board of Director
  • 2017 People’s Choice Award Winner, WMU Dancing with the Stars

A Star-Studded Affair

Western Michigan University’s annual Dancing with the Stars event connects the community with the university and brings some well-deserved attention to its Department of Dance. Each year, local leaders are paired with WMU dance students and perform on stage to support essential scholarships for the department. It is almost exactly like the reality TV show “Dancing with the Stars,” but with familiar faces.

I am a trustee for WMU and have been on the university’s foundation board for a long time. I am still amazed when I talk to each department and hear about the success of their students. I am particularly impressed with the Department of Dance: One-hundred percent of the department’s graduates find a job in a dance-related field, and most within three months of graduation. That’s impressive and speaks to their talent, but it also underscores the importance of supporting scholarships.

Practice Makes Perfect

I did ballroom dancing when I was in college, but just for fun. The great thing was that I never had to remember anything; I could just dance. But when I competed in Dancing with the Stars last year, I had to memorize every step. I was lucky that I had some experience, since I was out of town before the event and only had one week to practice.

Being a part of the process, I got to see everyone’s devotion to the program. The event took the combined effort of organizers, instructors, and countless others. The department’s costume designer found a perfect outfit for me and even called her brother from Las Vegas to custom-make a fabulous necklace. It looked stunning. The entire night was so much fun because of that kind of collective effort. And, of course, everyone was so darn competitive.

A Night to Remember

The audience was so enthusiastic that you could feel the excitement in the theater. I did the tango and had loads of fun. When I was performing, my friend held up an enormous banner that he made to cheer me on. It was also great to see the community come together to support all of the participants. One person who was extremely impressive was WMU President Dr. Montgomery.

Although I did win the People’s Choice Award, it was more important to be winning for WMU dance students. With the help of the community, we raised the most money to date and got to show off the caliber of talent at the university. The students are real professionals—that was clear to everyone in the audience.


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