Dance has taken adjunct professor Patrick McMillan all over the world. From performing for the queen of England here in San Antonio to teaching on a Jamaican cruise and traveling to Kumamoto, Japan, McMillan shares his passion for dance with every person he meets, a passion that he started developing back in junior high.
“In junior high school I had a group of friends and we would watch the original “˜American Bandstand’ and would practice the moves,” McMillan said. “As we got older into high school, we were mixing rock “˜n’ roll with country western. We would go out dancing on Saturday night, and my buddies wanted me to teach them the steps I was learning. That just multiplied into becoming a dance teacher.”
McMillan studied through the Arthur Murray Dance Studio and received five degrees, taking a total of 10 years to earn all five. He started officially teaching at Trinity in 1991 after Shirley Rushing Poteet retired from the physical education staff.
“Shirley was in charge of Trinity’s dance department then. I invited her out to judge a junior miss pageant that I had choreographed, and she was impressed with what I did with the kids. She got Trinity to hire me to train her in country western dance and ballroom, and I’ve been around ever since,” McMillan said.
McMillan was recently named Trinity’s favorite professor last spring in Alpha Phi Omega’s Brightest Bulb charity drive.
“Brightest Bulb is a traditional event that APO has done in the past, and we do it every spring,” said junior Becca Burt, president of APO. “Usually six teachers are nominated within APO, and then the campus gets to donate money to their favorite professors. The professor who gets the most money throughout the week wins all of the money, and it all goes to their favorite charity.”
McMillan chose to support Alzheimer’s research for his charity. Determined to win the competition, McMillan devised a clever plan to jump ahead of his fellow professors.
“The Thursday night before Brightest Bulb ended on Friday, I was scheduled to go to a formal dinner dance. A lot of older students of mine were involved. I didn’t have a date because my date had to cancel, and I went to the dance anyway,” McMillan said. “I put an announcement on every table that said “˜five dollars a dance with Patrick for Alzheimer’s.’ I made around $475, and it made me feel really good to wow everybody with how much we raised for this charity.”
This was the first time McMillan had been entered in APO’s Brightest Bulb competition.
“It was really exciting. I was up against some really impressive faculty members, like Dr. Coleen Grissom. It’s really rewarding to be named the favorite among other professors of such a high caliber,” McMillan said.
McMillan’s students believe the victory is well deserved.
“Patrick is the kind of person that makes any person of any skill level feel like they’re accomplishing something, even if it’s the smallest step,” Burt said.
Senior Christian Tovar-Vargas, who co-founded the Latin Dance Society last semester with sophomore Anthony “Scuba” Sanchez, credits McMillan for inspiring him to start dancing and teaching others what he learns.
“Patrick was my stepping stone into Latin dance. I was horrible in ballroom dance until we turned on salsa, and that’s when I realized I could dance,” Tovar-Vargas said. “The guy’s got confidence through the roof about his dancing ability, and his confidence is infectious. He has a lot of passion about what he does, and it permeates into his teaching.”
The work of Trinity dance groups like the Swing Bums and Latin Dance Society makes McMillan proud and and happy to see students spreading their love of dance.
“It’s like planting a seed and watching a beautiful flower or a fantastic tree grow,” McMillan said. “You teach the students how to do steps in dance and to see them take it so seriously is exciting and gratifying.”