Lara Meisner: Pushing Through

Photo provided by Laura Meisner

Growing up, Lara Meisner’s second home was her dance studio in New Jersey. She started dancing at three years old and never looked back. She jokes that at five years old when her mother signed her up for soccer, it didn’t last long. The rough nature of the sport was not for her and dance was just constantly in the back of her mind. Through high school she spent up to 20 hours each week at practice, and if anyone was ever looking for her they knew where to look. During her senior year, she only applied to three universities because the Penn State Lionettes were the thing that she set her eye on. When she was accepted to PSU, they were the main reason why she committed immediately.  

Her dream of being a Lionette came true when she auditioned with one of her lifelong dance friends. They both joined the team at the start of their freshman year, and it was everything Lara dreamt and more. This is, after all, what she practiced her whole life for! In October, she suffered a concussion, but since it was so early on in the year, she recovered quickly with all of her focus on Nationals in January. However, a few months later she tore a disk in her back and danced through the pain, as many dancers do. She was determined to compete, so she just wanted to get through the competition. Five days before the team left, she suffered a severe muscle spasm in her back that forced her to sit out of the competition.  

Photo provided by Lara Meisner

This again was not enough to stop her. She had to sit out for the majority of the spring semester of her freshman year, and she went to physical therapy for the entire summer before the start of her sophomore year. She was ready to get back in the game and continue her dream. Sadly, in a cruel twist of fate, she got a major concussion again in October of her junior year. The recovery process was much longer than that of the previous year. She was heartbroken. In the six months she sat out, she got to think a lot about what was best for her and her overall health. For these reasons she decided to quit the team and has not danced since.  

But this is not the end of Lara’s story! She has focused her energy into so many other things, and she has been able to reflect on her experience. Last year she was on the photography committee for THON and regards it in such a great light. She says that this was one of the most amazing experiences. She also decided that she needed to take a breather from living at school, so this past semester she has been living at home and took classes on World Campus to stay on track. Although she believed that she would probably never come back to University Park, she plans on coming back next semester to continue her junior year studying for a photography degree.

Photo provided by Lara Meisner

Lara continues to live a full, happy life even though right now she is taking time for herself. She’s not sure if she’ll ever get back into dance, but she says that she wouldn’t give up her experience for the world. It is a part of her, and she loves the time that she did have with dance. She is so excited to come home and continue on her Penn State journey!


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