Kent State student to become dancer for the Cleveland Indians, nurse

Abigail Winternitz

It’s difficult to combine multiple passions into one’s professional life, but senior nursing student and dancer Cassandra Johnson plans to do just that.

The Cleveland Indians Entertainment Team offered Johnson a spot as a dancer for the 2017 season.

Of the 200 applicants, 65 were offered an audition and only 35 were selected to the team this year, according to a press release from the College of Nursing. 

Kent State head cheerleading coach Matthew Payton — who was the assistant coach of Kent State’s Dance Team while Johnson was a team member — said he is not surprised Johnson made the team.

“She is one of the most passionate, dedicated and enthusiastic people I’ve ever met,” Payton said. “She is also an incredibly talented dancer, and the Indians are lucky to have her on their entertainment team.”

Johnson, who has been dancing for 19 years and spent more than two years on the Dance Team, also hopes to secure a nursing position within the intensive care unit at the Cleveland Clinic. This would allow her to work full-time and dance for the Cleveland Indians on her days off.

Johnson said being able to combine her two passions in her life as careers is a dream come true.

“Both of these aspects are such a huge part of who I am and, in a way, they complement each other really well,” Johnson said. “Whether it’s interacting with your patients or engaging a crowd at a game, it’s all about creating that positive atmosphere, and I’m so excited to be able to keep that positive atmosphere in my life.”

As a student athlete and nursing student — and a member of the sorority Alpha Phi — Johnson learned to utilize her time-management skills.

“It’s a combination of writing everything down in my planner, coffee and sheer determination,” Johnson said. “I think I work well in high-pressure situations, and while sometimes I go without sleep, it’s totally worth it to be able to do what I’m passionate about.”

Debra Cifani, a lecturer in the College of Nursing, said she has complete faith in Johnson’s ability to become both a dancer and a nurse in her professional life.

“Because the nursing program alone already has such a rigorous course load, I am always in awe of the student athletes in the nursing program,” Cifani said. “(Johnson) is one of the most exceptional students I’ve had in my classes, and her ability to juggle coursework and dance shows just how impressive her time-management skills are.”

Johnson’s dream job is to one day become a certified registered nursing anesthetist or assist in teaching and choreographing at a dance studio or own a dance studio of her own.

For future nursing student athletes, Johnson offers this advice: “Keep your mind on your goals and always try your hardest. It can be very stressful at times, but these are the experiences you will forever value.”

Abigail Winternitz is the College of Nursing and Public Health reporter, contact her at [email protected]

Correction: An earlier version of this article misprinted a reference to Debra Cifani.