World Campus grad, Rockette will 'bring worlds together' with business degree

December 12, 2018

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — For many Penn State students, the winter holidays bring a much needed break. Kristin Jantzie’s schedule is just heating up.

Jantzie, who is graduating this weekend with a bachelor of science in business earned through Penn State World Campus, is in her 14th year as a Rockette at Radio City Music Hall. During the Christmas season, Jantzie performs in as many as four shows a day, six days a week.

“There are times when you’re at the theater 30 days in a row,” Jantzie said. “You’ve got the show and the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and the tree lighting and filming for daytime TV.”

Between shows, Jantzie said her fellow dancers know she can be found on the couch in the Rockette lounge, sleeping. That’s how she has the energy to stay up later and do her schoolwork, she said.

The 33-year-old is taking two days off from her dancing schedule to attend Penn State’s graduation ceremonies on Saturday, Dec. 15, at University Park — her first time on campus. Her parents will  make the trip from the rural town of Lacombe, Alberta — population 13,000 — to see her graduate. Jantzie also will be a World Campus graduation speaker on Friday.

Collage of Rockette photos
IMAGE: Provided by Kristin Jantzie

Jantzie said she never anticipated the path her career has followed. After graduating from high school in 2003, she took a job dancing for Tokyo Disney, thinking it would be a “gap year” before college. But after Tokyo, Jantzie was hired by the Rockettes, and she has been invited back every year since.

“I would never have expected that I would still be doing this,” she said.

Jantzie started pursuing her degree through Penn State World Campus in 2015. Even before that, she had taken distance classes and other nondegree classes during the Rockettes’ “off season.”

“I don’t want to quit using my brain in that kind of way,” she said. “I want to keep my mind active.”

She chose World Campus because it allowed her to be flexible with her schedule. She hopes the business degree, with a focus in accounting, will allow her to stay in the arts and entertainment field in a different role when her dancing career ends — giving her the opportunity to “bring my two worlds together.”

“I hope my academic background and experience as a dancer will help to me to stand out when it’s time to step away from the stage,” she said. “I am looking forward to new opportunities and hopefully I will have the chance to continue to work with dancers and other creative types in some capacity.”

Jantzie said she has handled the demands of performing and going to school by scheduling classes that were more challenging for her or that required more group work during times of the year when her Rockette schedule was less demanding. At those times, she was able to take a leadership role in projects, she said.

Getting a degree while working a demanding job has required some sacrifices, she said.

“There were times I would get out of rehearsal at 5 p.m. and everyone wants to let loose and have dinner and hang out. There were definitely times when I couldn’t do that.”

“Oftentimes I’d go from rehearsal and come home and take a nap for a few hours and then work until later in the evening.”

Jantzie said she particularly valued the opportunity Penn State World Campus gave her to work with other students with a variety of experiences and careers.

Last semester she was an accounting intern at True Model Management, her first “desk job.”

The internship gave her confidence in the career preparation she received at Penn State, Jantzie said.

“I saw so much of exactly what I was working on in the classroom applied to a business situation,” she said. “It was just great to see that all come together.”

She is applying to MBA programs for next year.

“I am grateful to have found World Campus so that I could continue to pursue my career in dance but also prepare myself for a meaningful career when it’s time to take my final bow,” she said. “I feel fortunate that I have been able to follow my dream, but if something happened tomorrow and I could no longer dance, I am prepared for what comes next.”

Visit the Penn State World Campus website for more information about learning online.

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated December 12, 2018