Dancer emerges as leader on campus
Sophomore exercise science major Jaylah Bailey began her journey in sixth grade in Louisville, KY as a dancer and instructor for LaNita Rocknettes School of Dance. School of dance owner and dance teacher, Anita Neil, taught her much more than dance and the art of performance.
During her senior year of high school, Bailey lost two of the most important people in her life—her grandmother and Neil; both women died within two weeks of one another.
“[Neil] was my inspiration. She taught us to know our community, to know our Black history and to be involved with the youth because they are our future,” Bailey said.
She was at a low place in life, losing two important people. Bailey said she “didn’t have anything left.”
Bailey said she wants to inspire younger girls who look like her, telling them they can “do whatever you want to do.”
She is the Midwestern regional representative for the Miss Black and Old Gold Scholarship pageant. The pageant is an opportunity for young women to advocate for causes within their communities. She will continue her run at the next round in Toronto.
Eventually, she would like to begin a mentor program for low income youth, and youth within the foster care system. Bailey said she believes that youth need guidance and a push to continue to believe in themselves, through which they can avoid “falling into the trap of the system.”
Her goals do not stop at a mentoring program. Her big dream is to create a non-profit organization for the performing arts that will be for the low income youth in her community. It may be difficult but she enjoys challenging herself and the privilege to say she conquered it.
She cares deeply about Black unity and believes that if she steps out of her comfort zone and into a position of leadership, she can then use her platform to make change.
“I’m not stopping and I’m not giving up,” Bailey said.
She ran on the platform of racial discrimination in the foster care system; this topic was not something that was pulled from a hat, it is something close to her heart.
“My cousin, who was five when my uncle passed away from cancer, was in and out of foster care and group homes because his mother was not seen as fit,” Bailey said.
She considered him as her brother and eventually he would be under the guardianship of her parents; that would not make much of a difference for the outcome of his life.
“It was so hard for him to still be within the system and he didn’t end up turning out in a positive light because he is incarcerated now and it makes me want to do something,” Bailey said.
But the loss of her loved ones would not hinder her from the many goals she has.
“I think what I gained was to learn to move on in the face of adversity. They would have never wanted me to give up and stop having an impact on those I wanted to impact,” Bailey said.
Her passion to give back to those in low income communities and the ability to positively influence others does not come out of thin air. Coming to NKU allowed her to take on new goals and conquer things she views as challenging.
“A leader isn’t someone that’s put into a position of power. A leader is someone who takes care of their followers, has the best intentions for their followers and, even if no one is following them, they always make what they know as the right decision,” Bailey said.
According to sophomore music performance major Alfonza Vandivier, Bailey is someone who easily got involved on the first day of freshman year. She’s a dancer, an academic mentor and a member of the Black Women’s Organization’s executive board.
“Even if no one wants to be a leader, she emerges as a leader and she does very well at that; she works very hard and she goes for what she wants,” said senior public relations major Amanda Franklin.
Being involved in so many organizations and activities is not enough for her; she wants to empower the Black youth community and have them look to her as inspiration.
Similar to some, she struggles with trying to be perfect and on top of all things. One day during interview rehearsals for the pageant, she broke down mentally and physically. It was then that she realized that she was great the way she is.
“Flaws are what make us who we are and if we recognize our flaws, we can strive to fix them and be better people,” Bailey said.