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STA alumna earns top university honor

By Bridgette Bonner, Hammond Daily Star

Tuesday, August 14, 2012 10:27 AM CDT


Louisiana State University’s top graduate, or university medalist, is a Hammond woman who stemmed from Holy Ghost and St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic schools.

Hayley Kropog, a summer graduate of LSU, was the top honored student of all summer graduates on Aug. 3. She made one B in her college career and finished with a 3.979 grade point average. Kropog graduated from the school of mass communication with a focus in broadcast journalism.

Her parents are Debbie and Darrell Kropog of Hammond.

While in Hammond, she graduated from St. Thomas in 2008 in the Top 10 and was a leader on the Starlettes dance team.

“She is definitely one of a kind,” said Kropog’s former STA dance instructor Shellie Woodward. “Her technique even in high school was unbelievable from many years of experience.”

Kropog set a high standard for everyone else to look up to and was a mentor to the younger girls and less experienced girls, Woodward said.

“She was able to balance acedemics and dance on her own, and never let either one interfere with the other,” Woodward said.

“I always wanted to go to LSU,” Kropog said. “My brother went to LSU, and I wanted to follow in his footsteps.”

In addition to the family alliance, the dance team at LSU drew Kropog in, she said.

Kropog was captain of the Tiger Girls, who dance for the basketball and baseball games and compete nationally at Disney World.

This summer, Kropog has been working as an international dance instructor for Universal Dance Association. She was able to teach dancers in Europe, South America and Asia from age 5 to the mid 30s on different skill levels.

“Each place was a new culture and new experience,” she said. “It was an awesome experience, and the people were so nice and welcoming.”

While teaching dance this summer, Kropog encountered her first language barrier within dance, she said.

“Teaching 5-year-olds who didn’t speak English was a whole new experience,” she said. “It was humbling, and I’m so blessed and honored to have done that.”

With dance being such a big part of her life, Kropog had to learn to balance that and her academics and social life in college.

“Being a college athlete is the best lesson in time management and priorities,” she said. “I spent many nights up all night. It was important to me to give 200 percent to every task, whether it was academics, maintaining relationships with friends and family, or dancing.”

Kropog began her freshman year at LSU in the sorority Delta Delta Delta, but by her sophomore year the dance team had become like a sorority and family for her.

“There were great girls and opportunities with the sorority, but I spent seven days a week with the girls on the dance team,” she said. “Being a part of the Starlettes at STA really led me to want to continue that in college.”

St. Thomas bridged her transition to LSU academically as well, she said.

“STA academics are very challenging, and there is a wide range of honors classes,” she said. “When I got to LSU it was like continuing on, not something new. There were just more things to study for and work for.”

Her next move is to start breaking into the broadcast journalism field.

“I was unsure when I started with mass communications what I wanted my concentration to be, but freshman year I got to sit in the chair of the Tiger anchor desk,” she said. “I auditioned for Tiger Television and became an anchor, and it has really been my passion.”

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