DanceBlue could not be possible without the work of so many dedicated people. The Assistant Director for DanceBlue and The Center for Community Outreach (CCO), Abby Essinger, is one of these people. Since starting this job in July, Abby has jumped right into it, advising the student leaders of the CCO as well as the Overall, Operations, Programming, and Mini Marathons DanceBlue Chairs.
Being a graduate from the University of Kentucky, Essinger had heard about DanceBlue as a respected tradition but never really knew how to get involved. Since taking this job, however, her perspective has vastly changed. “I’ve learned that DanceBlue is so, so much more than what you can see at surface level. If you look closer, it’s students giving up their time, energy, resources, and weekends to attend a mini marathon. It’s a slew of late-night emails after they finish studying for their next-day exam. It’s working together to make the biggest impact that they can without letting their pride get in the way. It is dedication to the cause – a willingness to do whatever it takes. You won’t find a group of students who work harder,” said Essinger.
Her big DanceBlue projects include events like the mini marathons, the 5K, and the actual marathon. However, her average day might include various meetings with the Chairs, her Co-Advisor, Ely Medina, or Courtney McCalla who is transitioning her into this role, or other tasks like communicating food allergies to catering or placing a lengthy Amazon order. “I’m here as a resource. I support the students as they work to pull together all of the pieces that it takes to put on the marathon and the supporting events. I’m so excited for February 29, when we’ll get to see it all come together and put on a great event FTK!,” said Essinger.
In addition to the great events she gets to help put on, Essinger said working with the students and watching them develop into leaders is one of her favorite parts of the job. She genuinely loves each one of the students and helping them to reach their full potential. As a result, the students love and respect her as well. Operations Chair Maya Woolfolk said, “Advising for DanceBlue is no small role, and Abby jumped in feet first from the very beginning. She is thorough, thoughtful, and helpful. I’m so glad I got the chance to work with her!”. In addition, Overall Chair Sally Martin said, “She walked into the DanceBlue world not knowing what to expect, but has exceeded every expectation and challenge that has come her way. She asks the right questions and gives the best advice even though she just joined the team in July”.
Even though she has only experienced about six months in the DanceBlue world, Essinger is ready to stay in it. “This is something that I’m excited to keep figuring out. When I first started, I wasn’t sure how I would ever become as invested as folks who actually do the work and the fundraising and spend time with the kids, but the energy that these students bring is contagious. I’ve realized that I don’t have to do any of those things to know just how powerful this group is. I’m already a lifer. They’ve got me hooked,” said Essinger.
We are definitely ready to keep her around as well. Thank so much for the dedication and hard work you’ve given us these past six months, Abby! We are so excited to experience your first marathon with you!