Alumni Success Stories


Julie Garcia ’06

They say New York City is the place to be for any aspiring artist looking for an abundance of opportunity to grow in their field. And, taking full advantage of those opportunities is Julie Garcia ’06.

Garcia received her Bachelor of Arts in communications with minors in Dance and Spanish Studies at Jacksonville University. After graduation, she decided to pursue her love of teaching dance and became the assistant director of dance at Episcopal High School in Jacksonville. She is now a teaching assistant for one of the most influential tap dance teachers in New York City, Germaine Salsberg at the famous Broadway Dance Center. 

Not only is Garcia busy teaching, she also found the time to complete a master’s in dance education at New York University and is dancing professionally as a company member of Les Femmes, Germaine Sasberg's tap dance company, and Folktap, Carlos Donan's tap dance company.   

“I believe that artistic dance engages expressive capabilities of the self through the instrument of the body, says Garcia.  “Dancing expressively plays creatively dynamic chords with one's individualistic tune of expression.  As an advocate for academic achievement and creative inquiry, I would like to one day assist college students in reaching their full potential as professional dancers, profound thinkers and imaginative artists.”

Garcia says her biggest challenge for now is the time commitment, explaining that in dance you are always pushing yourself to be better and you always want to put your best foot forward no matter where you are.

“You never want to burn any bridges,” said Garcia. “Every day in New York is like an audition because it is such a small community here even though it seems so large.”

Garcia taught tap at the New England conference of the American College Dance Festival Association (ACDFA) at Boston University. 

She has also presented various workshops at JU, Douglas Anderson School of the Arts, La Villa School of the Arts, Dansations and the Florida Thespian States Festival.  She has performed for the Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra, at the Cummer Museum, Conservatorio Statale Di Musica and La Pietra in Florence, Italy. Garcia trained extensively with Lynn Schwab, Derick Grant, Germaine Salsberg, Douglas Dunn, and the director of Manhattan Tap Company, Heather Cornell. 

Garcia says her most rewarding experiences have been her instruction to all age groups and cultures. 


Jennifer Pascual ’92 

When Jennifer Pascual, ’92 was a teenager, she fondly remembers participating in her high school’s annual bishop’s Mass in the gymnasium at Bishop Kenny. Never had she imagined, however, that one day she would participate in what she refers to as the ultimate bishop’s Mass and the highlight of her career.

Pascual, the director of music at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City, was asked to help provide the soundtrack for Pope Benedict XVI’s visit to New York April 18-20, 2008 broadcast around the world.

“It was the most difficult undertaking I have encountered,” said Pascual. “I sat down with Cardinal Edward Egan in his living room for hours selecting music. I had to secure copyright licenses, and deal with the logistics of broadcasting on TV and moving a choir around.”

After six months of preparation, Pascual watched as Yankee Stadium turned into a house of worship from home plate, where she stood and conducted a choir of 200 and an orchestra of 58 for the pope who listened from second base. “Doing the music itself was not nerve-wracking,” said Pascual. “What made me nervous was that there were so few days to pull everything together.”

But pull everything together she did, not only at Yankee Stadium but at several other locations throughout the city. And all this on top of her full-time job at St. Patrick’s, where she plans out the music for the Masses each week and conducts the High Mass on Sunday. 

Since the former Pope was a native of Germany, Pascual and Egan chose music by German composers such as Bach, Beethoven, Brahms and Rheinberger. They also included a Gregorian Chant—the most revered form of music in the Church—and Renaissance Polyphony-style music by composers Tomas Luis de Victoria and Giovanni Pieiluigi da Palestrina.

“We also included regular congregational hymns that everyone could sing and some bilingual Spanish hymns as the Hispanic population in the United States is increasing rapidly,” said Pascual.


Dee Brown ’90

Dee Brown ’90 has always had a love affair with basketball. That continues to this day as the JU legend and NBA star has jumped back into the coaching ranks after being named the head coach and director of basketball operations for the Springfield Armor in the NBA Development League.

A longtime member and fan favorite of the Boston Celtics, Brown returns to the Northeast as the first head coach in the history of the franchise.

“To have Dee Brown as our first head coach is huge,” Springfield Armor Managing Partner Michael Savit said. “Not only is Dee thought of fondly throughout New England and beyond following his days with the Celtics, he is also a terrific mentor for young players and an all-around great ambassador for the sport. He’s a perfect fit for our organization and for a city with such a rich basketball tradition.” 

During his rookie season, Brown gained national attention after emerging the Slam Dunk champion during the 1991 NBA All-Star Weekend in Charlotte. The 6’1” Brown bested 6’10” Shawn Kemp in the finals with a unique “no-look” dunk, in which he draped his right arm over his eyes in mid-air and slammed the ball with his left. 

This is not Brown’s first foray into coaching. He was the head coach of the WNBA Orlando Miracle in 2002 and the San Antonio Silver Stars in 2004 before moving to the broadcast booth as the winner of ESPN’s “Dream Job 3.”

I am grateful for this opportunity to return to Massachusetts, where I have many wonderful memories from my playing career,” Brown said. “I look forward to working with the talented, young players that will wear the Armor uniform and to making this new NBA D-League team in Springfield a winner.” 


Alex Boylan ’99

Travel anywhere around the world and you just might run into Alex Boylan ’99, who has accomplished more than most dream of at a young age. Boylan is the winner of CBS’s “The Amazing Race II,” and is the executive producer and former host of Around the World for Free (ATWFF). He is truly living life to the fullest.

From his travels abroad, hosting gigs, business pursuits and experiences at JU, Boylan shares more about his extraordinary life.


What have you done with your $1 million prize from winning The Amazing Race II?
I actually bought a couple properties right here in Neptune Beach, Fla.  That's about it when it came to splurging on anything...the rest I invested in developing my career in entertainment.


In ATWFF, you were deported from India, stuck in a dessert in Chile and, many times, did not know the language of the country you were in. How did you keep your sanity?
How did I keep my sanity...great question! Because this was an interactive show, I felt very connected with the audience no matter what my current situation was at that time.  When things got rough, as they did many times, I would think of all the people who had put me up in their home, drove me from one location to another, or simply gave me food to eat. The audience was my inspiration to grind it out no matter how hard things got.  


What culture or religion have you found most interesting of your trips abroad?
When is comes to culture I would say "Island Life" is the most interesting. These people are disconnected from many of the worries we have back on land. It forces community in many ways. It keeps people a bit more honest when there is no place to run or hide. When it comes to religion, I’d say I gained a greater respect of my faith in Christianity after seeing the multitude of religions around the world. I don't want to put down any other religion but what I saw with my trip around the world was that many religions were about the "self" where Christianity is about "others."


What countries were the most open or helpful?
To pick one country or area of the world would be impossible.  We set off to see the world in the purest way and in turn got the chance to experience hospitality that shocked the world. Everywhere we went people offered help. But the most amazing aspect was when we experienced this in very poor countries such as Kenya, Thailand and Cambodia. When we crossed the border from Thailand to Cambodia on foot, my cameraman Zsolt and I found ourselves in this dirt poor border town called Poipet. We had nothing and just started walking the streets when a Monk waved his hand for us to come over to his hut. With h​is broken English we tried to communicate the best we could. Within two minutes he asked us to stay with him in his one room hut. He had nothing...but offered us what he could.


After traveling the world in a race and for free, where do you travel for leisure?
My love for surfing always takes me to Central America. I still think its one of the greatest places to travel. Beautiful rain forests that come crashing down to warm crystal clear ocean just can't beat it. Panama, Costa Rica, El Salvador...I love them all and try to get down there as much as I can!