Meet 2010 Valedictorian Cameron Dawson

May 04, 2010

Class of 2010 Valedictorian Cameron Dawson

Since the decision of who will be valedictorian for the College of Arts & Sciences is based solely on G.P.A., selecting Cameron Dawson—the only graduating senior with a 4.0—was fairly simple. Had character and personality also been considered, however, Dawson’s effervescence and tenaciousness would have made her a shoo-in. With an energy that’s just as audacious as her fiery, red hair, Cameron Dawson fearlessly represented the Class of 2010 as valedictorian at commencement on May 9.

Born and raised in Central Florida, Dawson transferred from UCF two years ago at the encouragement of a UCF professor who knew a liberal arts education at a small, intimate school would be ideal for her. “I really wanted the small school atmosphere that Rollins offers,” said Dawson. “I also wanted to have close relationships with my professors and have my teachers really invest time in me.” So, she transferred to Rollins to continue her highly successful and rewarding academic journey.

Long before college, however, Dawson’s first love was dance, which she began to pursue seriously when she moved in with her grandmother in Fort Lauderdale to train at the Cuban Classical Ballet in Miami. Although injuries halted her training, Dawson quickly turned the negative into a positive (something she’s extremely adept at) and dove into college. “Through ballet, I had spent years challenging my body; now I wanted to challenge my mind,” recalled Dawson.

Inside her dance minor and regular involvement with Rollins Dance, Dawson continues to fan the flame of her artistic passion. “The Rollins dance department reignited my love for dance,” Dawson said. “And I’ve really liked the balance between my major in economics, which is very quantitative, and my minor in dance, which is very creative.” In her free time, Dawson dances professionally for a local production company.

“I have been working with dancers for over 30 years in colleges, universities and in professional dance and musical theatre companies. Cameron is one of the most, if not the most, bright and talented dancers I have ever had the pleasure to work with,” said Professor of Theatre Arts and Dance Robert Sherry. “The entire dance faculty feels honored to have had the opportunity to know this lovely, brilliant, shining 'star' both on stage and off,” Sherry gushed.

Besides being named 2010 valedictorian, Dawson recently won the S. Truman Olin Jr., Scholastic Award for excellence in the study of economics. Typical of an overachieving scholar with a sturdy vision for her future, Dawson plans to invest the $250 award money in the stock market. “I figure since I won the money for my achievement in economics, it makes more sense to invest it than spend it on shoes for commencement,” giggled Dawson.

Dawson expressed in her commencement address the gratitude she feels for her experience at Rollins. “This school has turned me into a life-long learner,” Dawson said.  “It set me up to be a thinker, not just a taskmaster, and I really feel prepared to be a part of the global business community.” Dawson also feels that Rollins taught her to continually find a creative solution around any obstacle she encounters, producing an “anything is possible” attitude that’s absolutely infectious.

Dawson’s entire family—mom, dad, and her older brother and sister—was in the audience to hear her momentous address.  “I have the best family in the world; they’ve always done everything in their power to make my dreams happen.” Throughout her dance and academic pursuits, Dawson’s parents have always listened to her dreams and goals with an open-mind and a “let’s see how we can make it happen” mind-set. Clearly, her parents are at least partly responsible for her moxie spirit. 

In the fall, Dawson will begin pursuing her MBA at Rollins Crummer Graduate School of Business. During the course of her studies, she hopes to study abroad, an experience she had as an undergraduate that sparked her enthusiasm for international travel. Last year, Dawson spent six weeks living in Madrid with a host family while attending school. She loved the experience so much that she hopes to live in Europe one day.

Her career vision is crystal clear; she wants to work in the entertainment business—film or television—and be able to apply her artistic performance knowledge with the business acumen she’s gleaned at Rollins.

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