With every day full of dance, studying and meal breaks, second-year dance student Victoria Parker's free time, or lack thereof, reveals her self-discipline and tenacity.
Parker took up dance at age 3 after her mom pushed her to find her calling and signed her up for a ballet class on the off chance that she'd stick with it. From that moment on, Parker fell in love and knew she was doing what she should be.
"My mom just kind of threw me in because she grew up in a really small town and wasn't able to dance, so she kind of wanted me to dance but didn't ever force me," Parker said.
In the entire time she has been dancing, there has only been one week over the summer when she was 11 that she thought about quitting. Parker was used to having summers off, so it was difficult for her to stay committed.
"My friends were all going to the pool and going to Carowinds and doing all this fun stuff during the summer, and I had to go to ballet class," she said.
As Parker fell to the thoughts of "I am done, I don't like this, I want to quit," again, it was her mom that urged her to keep going, telling her to "just wait it out until you get back in the fall and then decide."
Dance has held an important role in Parker's life outside of just creative expression. Being in the studio and knowing that was where she needed to be allowed her to take her mind off everything else and just focus on the moment at hand.
"I think it's more of like a stress reliever for me," she said. "I know even freshman year of high school I would feel so overwhelmed with doing APs and all that stuff, that I would leave it kind of behind as I went into ballet class."
The determination and willpower that was required to go to dance class instead of hanging out with friends not only made her grow as a performer on stage, but also made her stronger in academics and in her personal life as well. Time management became second nature to her.
"You don't really procrastinate that much, because you can't," Parker said.
In the free time that she does find on weekends, Parker is active in her sorority, Phi Mu, likes to be outside and bakes as a hobby. If dancing didn't work out, she says attending culinary school and opening a bakery was something she was interested in doing too.
After college, Parker hopes to go back home and take over her home studio, working with kids to teach them how to dance. Dancing professionally in shows isn't something she wants to do, even though many of her friends are going down that path.
"That's just not me. I want to go work with kids," she said.
Parker's continuing hard work has opened plenty of doors for her, from attending the North Carolina School of the Arts to USC, which was named a top three school for dance by "Dance Magazine" in 2014. She plans on performing in the USC Dance Company's upcoming Fall Concert. Her ambitions and skills will be reflected on the kids she teaches at her studio, who already welcome her with hugs when she walks into the building.