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A dream job for a dance minor with a vision

Bailey ValleeBailey Vallee, '17, grew up on the dance floor, starting at four years old in a studio in Bellingham, Wash. Her experiences with dance have shaped her future at Whitworth and beyond. When considering universities, Vallee visited only schools that offered a dance minor she could combine with a major in speech communication.

"The dance program is actually what brought me to Whitworth," Vallee says. "I was coming from a Christian dance studio, and knew I wanted to do dance in college. Going into a state school or somewhere that Christian values weren't the basis of dance would've been a complete culture shock for me. Dance was and is an outlet for me. It isn't competitive. It was just so life-giving growing up, and I knew quickly that if I went into a competitive environment, I would just crumble and hate it."

Vallee wasn't originally planning on Whitworth, but after meeting with Karla Parbon, head of the dance department, she realized Whitworth had everything on her list.

"The last kicker was that I grew up in a dance company called Jubilee, and Jubilation is Whitworth's dance club," Vallee says.

Whitworth helped Vallee continue the path to her dream of teaching at her own dance studio.

"I've always had this dream of teaching dance in an inner-city studio that is a safe haven for kids and that reflects the kind of environment I grew up in," Vallee says. "It shaped who I am today and kept me from making a lot of bad decisions during high school. I was really thankful for the community and the passion it gave me, so my dream has always been to pay it forward and create the same kind of environment."

Going into her senior year, Vallee's dream is beginning to solidify as a reality. The studio owner at Vallee's home studio is from Oahu, and she gave Vallee the idea of starting a studio in Hawaii. Intrigued, Vallee visited Oahu the summer after her senior year of high school and fell in love with the idea, though she was also anxious about how such a scenario would play out.

"Now, flash forward to a month ago," she says. "Ron Pyle, my advisor, had just led an honors trip to Oahu during Jan Term 2016, and his group volunteered at Surfing the Nations, a nonprofit based in Wahiawa," Vallee says. "He just could not stop talking about how great the organization was, and he stopped me in the HUB by telling me he had a vision for my life. I thought to myself, ‘that's not daunting at all'. He went on to tell me the organization was building a dance studio and needed somebody to teach dance there."

Vallee was spending Spring Break in Kauai, so she decided to contact the organization and fly to Oahu for an interview during her trip.

"They offered me a staff position. Right now, we're already talking about what the dance program is going to look like. We're also talking about what the outreach program will look like, because they also have bases in Sri Lanka, Indonesia, and Cambodia," Vallee says. "I'm already starting to formulate those curricula and programs for them, and then I'll move there after graduation."