Dancing Through Life: Jason Ancheta on UT’s dance community, post-grad plans, and exploring your extracurriculars
by Jacqueline Magno | Social Media Intern
Jason Ancheta never anticipated popping and locking at a job interview for Citigroup. In fact, when he stepped onto The Forty Acres in 2018, he had no idea that dance would become such an integral part of his life.
“Prior to my sophomore year, I actually didn’t know how to dance. I came in having two left feet,” he admitted with a laugh. “I just happened to stumble across a ballroom dancing organization during my freshman year, and after that experience, I thought, ‘Okay. Now that I’ve done partner dancing, is there a way I can be like those people on World of Dance or America’s Best Dance Crew?’ That led me to an organization called K-Pop Beat, where I met some fun folks who introduced me to even more dance groups on campus.”
Now in his senior year of college, Ancheta spends a majority of his free time on the dance floor. He dances for competitive teams like Redefined Dance Company and UT Barkada, and he also teaches community classes for organizations like The Space.
“It’s been a pretty gratifying experience,” he said, reflecting on his dance journey at UT. “You have folks who are just doing what they love and having fun with it, and everyone is so supportive of each other.”
Beyond teaching classes and rehearsing for competition, Ancheta is currently double-majoring in government and finance – two subjects he hopes to explore further after graduating college.
“Money oftentimes tells you who’s involved in the decision-making process, and I think it’s important we put that into context of our government, laws, and society,” he explained. “I find that relationship between government and finance really interesting, and I hope I can bring both subjects into what I do for my career.”
Ancheta has also channeled his academic interests by writing for various UT publications.
“During my freshman year, I tried out for and made The Daily Texan opinion column. I also wrote for The Texas Orator, which is a political science and review publication housed under the College of Liberal Arts. I never thought I would enjoy writing about the issues I’d spoken about in high school speech and debate, but I found documenting my thoughts to be an incredibly cool experience.”
He attributes his academic success to his parents, who encourage him to explore multiple educational and professional opportunities.
“You always hear stories of parents telling their kids to pursue a certain career, but my parents never pressured me in that capacity. If anything, they were enablers and exposed me to lots of different opportunities. They said, ‘So long as you can support yourself and have fun doing what you love, that’s all we want for you.’ That mindset has been really liberating for me, and it’s inspired me to give it my best shot in everything that I’ve done.”
After completing his studies this spring, Ancheta plans to move to New York City for his first job as a college graduate.
“I’ll be joining Citigroup in New York City at their global headquarters, where I’ll be working in the Markets and Securities Services division as a first-year analyst. I’m pretty excited for the opportunity, but at some point, I’d love to take it to the next level – maybe attend graduate school, or use my experience at Citi and see where that takes me.”
He humorously attributes his success in the job search to his dance skills, which he demonstrated in front of his future employers over a Zoom interview.
“I put ‘street dancing’ under the interests section of my resume, and after trying to explain what that was to my interviewers, I decided to just stand up and show them. I was wearing a suit and everything,” he laughed. “I think that’s why I got the job.”
As a graduating senior, Ancheta encourages all Liberal Arts students to explore their passions outside of the classroom.
“College has a lot of extracurricular activities that you wouldn’t have access to otherwise. Even if you don’t see yourself doing these activities long-term, definitely get a taste for them.”
He also invites all interested parties to check out the various dance organizations on campus.
“I highly encourage folks to take classes with The Space. We offer free classes throughout the week to people of all dance levels,” he explained. “Even if you’re feeling a little timid, don’t worry! Everyone’s felt that way. So long as you take that leap of faith and just have fun with it, that’s all that really matters.”
You can visit The Space’s Instagram page for weekly updates about their class schedule and other dance opportunities across campus.
Ancheta's choreography (starting at 2:33) for UT Barkada's performance at Isang Mahal 2021