INA, IL (Oct. 25, 2016) - Community colleges offer students the opportunity to explore their interests at a higher academic level without the worry of university costs hanging over heads. Sometimes, those explorations help further a passion and turn it into a career.
Jayne Ballantyne of Pinckneyville knew she loved music. She even knew that she wanted to pursue Music Business as a career path, but the missing component was how to get there. For that, Ballantyne turned to Rend Lake College. What she discovered was an atmosphere that helped her prepare for the future while, at the same time, offering her the ability to grow at a personal level by introducing new friends and interests.
“I was kind of directionless. What ended up happening seemed like it was just the natural progression for me. My mom went to Rend Lake, and I had lots of friends who were going there. It just made sense that RLC was where I should start,” she explained.
During her time at RLC, Ballantyne was involved in a lot of activities. She started off in band as part of a music scholarship, but eventually switched to voice. During that time, she also began to explore theatre.
“To be honest, I had never really even thought about Theatre. It was something I did because I was looking for something else to do. But, the bug bit me hard. I miss it a lot. I even just signed up for an acting class at my local community college to get back into it a little. I have so many friends and great memories from my time with the RLC theatre.”
Ballantyne spent three years at RLC, graduating with an Associate of Fine Arts degree and an Associate of Arts degree. At first she saw the extra year as a curse. But, now she credits that extra year with saving her a lot of pain and money in the long run. She used her third year to finish off her general education courses, maximizing her transfer credit so she could focus on Music Business at the undergraduate level.
After RLC, Ballantyne transferred to Millikin University where she graduated in two years with her bachelor’s degree. During her time at the university, she was required to complete an internship. That requirement led directly to Ballantyne’s current employment as an Artist Manager at The Undertow Music Collective in Champaign.
Her day-to-day consists of a number of business and management responsibilities. Ballantyne assists with booking venues, social media marketing, merchandise sales, travel arrangements and many other logistical responsibilities related to managing the company’s roster of musicians.
“I have to explain my job to my family a lot,” she joked. “My major made my family nervous because no one really understood quite what I was going for. It can be tough. You have to have a strong sense of entrepreneurship. But, nothing else spoke to me. There were times where I hit hard patches, but I never changed my focus or major.”
“For me, I felt so strongly about music. I knew it would make me happy to do it every day. Sometimes you have to listen to that voice. You might never make a ton of money, but if you are happy doing what you love, maybe money isn’t the biggest deal in the world. I love the feeling of contributing to something cool. There is nothing wrong with looking at all the options, but if you really have a passion for something, you need to stick things out sometimes. If you put in the work, people will work with you. There is a little truth in all those old clichés of ‘You don’t know until you try’ and ‘Fake it until you make it.’”
Ballantyne said she sees a lot of pressure in high school students to try and have their life figured out already. She said that there are many in her generation that feel like they are failing if they don’t have their entire life and career planned out and in motion at 22 years old.
“Community college lets you stretch your legs. People should take advantage of that. It lets you explore. You don’t have to have things figured out yet. You can take a Watercolor class. Maybe nothing comes of it, maybe it just becomes a hobby, but you took that chance and discovered something new. That’s the beauty of it. When I was a student, I thought taking a third year of community college classes would kill me. I don’t know how you feel about fate, but I think everything happens for a reason. It turns out that third year saved me. It let me get all the classes I needed to transfer, and I was able to stay connected to those passions that kept me going.”