The American Ballet Theater’s first female African-American principal dancer, Misty Copeland, shared her inspiring story in the March/April cover story. She shared her thoughts on perseverance. Here’s what she had to say:

Q: Where did your motto “What can I learn today?” come from and what has been the most fulfilling thing you have learned from challenging yourself to continue to lear

A: I’ve learned that as a dancer our minds, bodies and spirits are constantly in a state of change and growth. I know that when I’m thinking of how I approach my career, day in and day out, I feel that I have to be open to what I’m dealt each day. Approach each day like you have another opportunity to be better and start fresh.

Q: What or who was it that helped you realize your full potential to truly succeed in ballet?

A: My first ballet teacher. She saw something in me that she hadn’t experienced with any other student, but beyond my abilities she guided me and nurtured me to be a whole person, a professional, a ballerina.

Q: What health or fitness tips have you learned through your rigorous training that our readers may be able apply to their everyday lives?

A: Diet is more than half the battle. What we feed and fuel our bodies is how we function, but no matter how many hours you put into classes and working out, if you’re not eating clean or healthy and with your energy in mind, then none of it’s worth it.

Q: When times were the hardest, what was your method to keep from quitting?

A: Mentors. Hearing the voices of those I respect that reminded me what I was worth and the path that had been carved out for me helped to keep me focused.

Q: Can you share with us your future goals now that you’ve succeeded in becoming a principal dancer?

A: I want to be an example of success, integrity and hard work. I know that I wouldn’t be here without love and support. I want to create a way for artists to feel supported in the future – for the world to see the benefits of the arts to the human experience and growth.