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Kelli Erin Cox

Kelli Erin Cox (front center) is joined by Hawkeye Community College’s Dance Head Coach Meghan Reilly (front left), her father Shane (front right), her mother Ellie (top left) and sister Julie (top right).

Kelli Erin Cox carefully contemplated her future. She scoured over the paper in front of her -- a written letter of intent to continue her dancing career at Hawkeye Community College -- and frowned when she couldn’t answer one of the questions it posed.

“What even is my Twitter name?” Cox wondered out loud before checking her phone to confirm it.

It was the lone hiccup during the signing process Monday afternoon for the graduating Vinton-Shellsburg High School senior. The 17-year-old eventually got through it all and officially committed her talents to the Red Tails’ dance team for the 2019-20 season.

Cox said she plans on spending her first year studying liberal arts and sciences and eventually move into women’s healthcare, though she isn’t yet sure what exactly to pursue.

Also attending the event were Cox’s mother, father, sister, and future dance coach. Her mother, Ellie, said Kelli Erin had emulated her sister’s dancing habits since she was 14 months old.

“She probably danced before she could walk,” Ellie said.

Ellie contributes that quote to Joan Cooling, the owner of the Cooling Dance Center where Kelli Erin spent years learning and perfecting her craft.

Apart from her blooming dancing career, Kelli Erin said she also performed with the marching band both in the color guard and the percussion ensemble where she helped a blind classmate along by reading rhythms out loud to them.

Meghan Reilly, the head coach of Hawkeye’s dance team, said she saw Cox’s potential for growth when she and Ellie attended an Experience Hawkeye Visit Day in February.

“I’m excited to have her on the team,” Reilly said of Cox. “She’s a great performer. We can train her in technique, but she has the performance aspect. She looks like she’s having fun.”

Cox said she already has about $5,000 in scholarships to help her with tuition, including the Hawkeye Community College Achievement Scholarship, the Virginia Gay Hospital Scholarship, the Emma Redlinger Memorial Scholarship, the Vinton Kiwanis Scholarship, and the John & Beverly Anderson Charitable Trust.