By Rachel Ruth Tunney
Distinguished Young Woman of South Carolina for 2013
Auburn University is a beautiful college, centered on beautiful tradition and attended by beautiful minds. One of its most elaborate (most beautiful) attractions is its brand new Recreational Facility; okay, keep in mind I am currently a Fitness major and for me, its equivalent to a Saks Fifth for the average shopaholic. The Rec features a 44 person hot tub, rock-climbing walls, and the longest indoor track in the United States. But these bells and whistles are nothing compared to the Tiger Room and Eagle Room – crafted wooden floors, mirrors that shine and ceilings that are at twenty-feet up: a dancer’s dream.
The only problem? No true dance classes. Zip. Zilch. Last semester, I itched and dreamed to try out those floors, to dance without interruption and to craft movement, a little soup for my soul.
And so late one night, while the gym stirred softly, I crept into the Tiger Room. I quietly shut the door, connected my IPod, and took one step before an anticipated grand-jete when…
“Ma’am. You are not allowed to be in here.”
His badge indicated authority and my cheeks blushed a hue of red. As he grabbed a shoulder to escort me out, I heard myself utter that one word only an infant child responds with:
“You don’t work here. These rooms are only allowed after hours for employees.”
Receiving a pointed look from the guard, I hastily made my exit from the recreational center, too embarrassed to stay. And on my ten-minute walk, the wheels began to turn.
No dance classes. New rooms. Athletic school. High population of females. Employment.
Just like that, an idea was born.
My first semester of college brought with it lessons of acceptance, lessons of forgiveness and memories to last. But it was my proposal to the head director of group fitness for a self-created ballet class that was my greatest accomplishment.
My concept is called Barefoot Ballet. It is aimed towards the beginner adult who has ever been “ballet curious” (thanks, Dad, for that perfectly coined phrase). I have an excellent group of twelve who meet twice a week – Mondays and Wednesdays for an hour. We dance ‘barefoot’ just as the name entails; this element of the class was something I crafted myself, for I know college kids are working with limited budgets, and dancewear can be expensive. Seeing the feet during barre also allows me a better chance of correcting improper foot positions that could potentially lead to injuries. Each night before class, I take time to plan ahead all the steps, and select modern music to go with them. During class, I try my best to hide my nervousness, because if there’s anything to learn ON YOUR OWN from creating your own ‘business’ it’s to be prepared for anything.
It’s learning how to market your idea with authority, and staying up all night nervous that no one will show, once you receive approval.
It’s realizing that success and failure are closely related, and that every day comes with a new set of obstacles-
Are people on time? Are they having fun? Are they executing moves safely?
But what creating your own business teaches you the most is the importance of recognizing a vacuum and filling it. Attending a college that doesn’t have a particular club that you loved in high school? Create it. Love the food selection in the cafeteria but know a few alterations that could make it better? Present it.
That’s the beauty of business- it’s like art. You create something from nothing. And like art, it’s meant to be shared and enjoyed with those around you.
The benefits aren’t half bad either:
Now, during those late nights when all is quiet at the Rec, I slip into the Tiger Room, turn on my IPod, take that step and…
I silence him in a second with my employee shirt and my satisfied grin.
Rachel Ruth Tunney is a college freshman at Auburn University in Auburn, Alabama majoring in Fitness, Conditioning and Performance with a minor in Business. Originally from Charleston, South Carolina, Rachel was a participant in the Distinguished Young Women program and was selected as the Distinguished Young Woman of South Carolina for 2013. Learn more about Rachel here!