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Alumni Success

Miami Regionals graduate studying for law degree after seven-year ballet career

Flexibility of online learning at Regionals made combination of college and performing possible

Claire Barrington Headshot
Claire Barrington
Alumni Success

Miami Regionals graduate studying for law degree after seven-year ballet career

Claire Barrington

In high school, Claire Barrington ‘22 had two goals: to become a professional ballerina and to go to college. Miami University Regionals played a pivotal role in her pursuit of the second goal, while giving her the flexibility to pursue the first one.

As a child growing up in Hamilton, Barrington’s days were filled with dance classes and practices. She found her talent early and pursued it with passion. Due to the demanding nature of high-level dance, there was time for little else. After completing most of high school online because of her challenging schedule of performances, she graduated a year early in 2014 and moved to Seattle to dance professionally with the Pacific Northwest Ballet.

Over the next seven years, she danced with six ballet companies and her career took her to several countries, including Canada, Germany, and Norway.

“When you’re young, you have to find your place,” she said. “Dance contracts are sometimes only for a few weeks out of the year while a company is performing. Sometimes you can get a nine-month contract for an entire season, which typically runs during the school year.”

Barrington always knew her dancing days were numbered, but the COVID pandemic ended her performing career more quickly than she expected. That’s why she kept her second goal in sight. A college education was always part of the plan. She earned her degree in English Studies and Criminal Justice in just two and half years, taking advantage of the opportunity to begin her studies remotely while still performing in Europe.

In January 2020, while dancing with the Norwegian National Ballet, she began her education online at Miami Regionals. The flexibility of taking classes remotely fit into her busy schedule. Many of the skills she needed as a ballerina, such as discipline and structure, served her well as a student, too.

“It helped that I was used to juggling a lot at one time,” she said. “I was organized because I had to be.” Barrington started studying on campus in the fall of 2021. She chose her double major in English Studies and Criminal Justice with the goal of applying to law school. Using the same focus she had applied to her dancing, she worked hard and earned a 4.0 GPA while working as a writing tutor and research assistant.

In addition, Barrington helped design a research study that examines how police officers are impacted on the job by the threat of civil liability and criminal prosecution. The study is still ongoing, but there is a lot of interest in how information from this project could shed light on trends in law enforcement. The project also led her to an internship with the Colerain Police Department the spring of 2022.

Today, Barrington is a first-year law student at Washington University in St. Louis who hopes to use her passion for criminal justice in her legal career. 

Marianne Cotugno, professor of English and interim chair in the Department of Justice and Community Studies, taught and advised Barrington at Miami Regionals. She isn’t surprised by her success.

“Claire’s experiences demonstrate how students have limitless opportunities to develop academically, professionally, and personally,” Cotugno said. “Having served as both her academic advisor and as her professor, I observed how dedicated Claire was to achieving her goals while supporting those around her.”

Claire Barrington in her ballet outfit standing on her tiptoes of one foot and the other kicked behind her with her arms above her head.

Ballet is behind her but not forgotten

Barrington has retired her ballet slippers for good, but the experiences will influence her as she pursues her second career.

“I am very grateful for that time in my life,” she said. “I have no regrets. In the end, it was the greatest thing that could’ve happened,” she said of returning to the United States for school. “I realized now I could put all my energy into this second career path. With my experience of working internationally, I may decide to pursue international law.”

She said Miami Regionals was the ideal setting for her undergraduate education, and she credits her time on campus with shaping her career goals and helping her to grow as an individual.

“I felt well prepared for law school after graduating from the Regionals,” she said. “I had so many opportunities to be a leader, and those experiences really instilled in me a sense of maturity and an ability to see the big picture. My majors in Criminal Justice and English Studies also helped me grow academically. Whatever I do now, I will always have a passion for criminal justice.”

She called Miami “such a positive environment” and said she feels fortunate to have earned her undergraduate degree from the Regionals.

“The professors are good at finding the potential in each student and seeing what’s special about them,” she said.“I felt like I got a top-of-the-line education.”