Sarah Gentile’s extensive bucket list can be boiled down to three things she’s passionate about: dance, travel, and education. Her college journey is guided by her bucket list, and she’s checked off most of those experiences in the last two years. “Before coming into senior year I was like, ‘I haven’t really had a Boise experience…all of the two years I missed, I’m trying to shove that all in one year,” she said. “I’ve got to get my Boise experience, and this is going to be the way.”
Her freshman year was rudely interrupted by the pandemic, forcing her to spend her sophomore year back in her hometown, Rexburg, Idaho, in quarantine, without the things she needs to thrive — social interaction and dance.
Sarah’s dreams, goals, and plans were put on hold, but she found a way to make them happen anyway. “I was so driven my freshman year to do all these things. I was so excited and I was just getting into it — like everything I’m doing now -– and I had to not do that for a complete year”.
Instead of letting “the worst year of my life” (as she put it) derail her plans, she was determined to do all the things she’s always wanted to do once she was able to go back to school in person. Especially, one of her top bucket list items: become a dance instructor.
Stepping into new experiences
Freshman year, Sarah walked into a cardio dance class at the Rec Center and had so much fun that she decided she wanted to do it for a living. So, she set out to do just that. Her senior year, she got her dancing certification and started teaching not only dance cardio, but also barre, total body strength, and HIIT.
Cardio dance is her favorite class to teach by far, “I’m dying when I’m teaching that one,” she said. “It requires so much energy, which I have and I love doing it, but I can never take a break because I have to be a good example to them and make the class fun. It’s my most tiring class, but the funnest.”
The enthusiastic instructor calls her cardio dance class her “confidence builder class”. “You’re so out there and you have to really believe in yourself to do the movements and not care what others think. I think it’s a great lesson to learn and just not care and have fun and be free.”
Dance has been an integral part of Sarah’s life since she was 4 years old, so for her, it’s pretty much equivalent to breathing. Any opportunity she gets to dance, she is all for it; whether it’s dancing competitively, performing with a club, or teaching a routine.
The dancer is a part of the Bronco Dance Club and gets to perform in their annual spring showcase on April 1. That same morning, she’s teaching a routine at a dance marathon to raise money for children at St. Luke’s hospital. But she’s not worried about fitting both experiences into one day and dancing her heart out, “They’re both awesome opportunities. I’m not missing out.”
Even in her travels, Sarah found a way to keep dancing. In Uruguay, she joined a salsa team of older women who only spoke Spanish and she performed with them. Despite not having any salsa experience and the language barrier, she cherishes the memory of learning from and dancing with the women she met. Besides practicing salsa most days of the week, she loved going to the numerous Reggaeton dance clubs. “I don’t think there was a single weekend where I didn’t go dancing.”
Finding herself abroad
Sarah had never heard of the little country of Uruguay in South America, but she wanted to be different and pick a place to study abroad that not everybody goes to. “I went to the global studies office, like, every day and I was so ready to go freshman year.” Even though COVID-19 was a setback, she wasn’t going to give up on checking off her #1 bucket list item to study abroad for a year.
The excited student got connected with USAC (The University Study Abroad Consortium) who made her experience possible. She shared her inspiring story with them of how international studies impacted her as a woman. It was a challenging adventure that helped her grow, which she wouldn’t trade for the world. “Uruguay did so many things for me. It just changed my life. It was the greatest experience.”
She got to really experience the culture and lifestyle of Uruguayans by spending a whole semester with them. “The people just in general are so laid back. Every single night, if there’s going to be a pretty sunset, everyone’s out of their house, everyone’s sitting on this hillside drinking with their mate. Everyone”. After spending time with her carefree friends in Uruguay, Sarah thinks our society could use a little less stress by just being in the moment. “They enjoy the little moments so well. On weekends, they just party their hearts out.”
To the traveling enthusiast, majoring in Spanish seemed like the perfect excuse to travel, “I really didn’t know any Spanish before going, so it really humbled me”. Now, she feels like she’s able to adapt to whatever culture she finds herself in. “The more different a culture is to mine, the more fun and cool it is”.
One of the best trips Sarah can remember is going to Brazil with a group of her friends from Uruguay. They visited the breathtaking Iguazu Falls, the point where Argentina, Paraguay, and Brazil meet. “Each day we spent in a different country and it was so cool because once you crossed the border, you just saw all the diversity and different cultures that a country brought, and it was amazing”.
Not only did she get to check exhilarating adventures off her bucket list (including skydiving), but she discovered her life’s passion too.
Pursuing her passion for teaching
Sarah volunteered at a children’s school, Unidos, in Uruguay and boldly asked if she could teach an English class. Unidos hired her as their first intern and gave her a classroom of kids. She eagerly stepped up to the challenge even though it was intimidating and she had to figure out a lot on her own. “That’s how my interest in teaching children came about.”
Another one of her passions is talking to people and helping them, which is why she’s also majoring in psychology. For her long term career, she wants to pursue going to graduate school, becoming a counselor, and opening her own counseling office. But first, her priority is her next bucket list item: live in Spain and teach English.
She has high hopes for getting the Fulbright grant (the most prestigious international exchange program in the world) which she’s a semifinalist for. If she gets this life changing scholarship, she wants to go Spain to become an English teaching assistant after she graduates in spring 2023. Her plan “B” is to join the Peace Corps and continue to pursue her dream of teaching children in some capacity.
“My number one thing is I want to make sure I’m happy and excited for my future and I know having a job sitting behind a desk 8-5 is not my jam, and I’m not going to be happy,” she said. “Where I get the most joy is from dancing, traveling, and talking to others, just being with other people, and so I’m going to make sure I do all of that.”
While the senior strives to be as involved as she can, she’s still happy to volunteer her time so others can learn. Not only is she a Resident’s Assistant in University Suites and University Square, but she also gets to share her love for Boise State by giving tours to prospective students as a Bronco ambassador. She takes opportunities to help students locally at Hillside Junior High School and Hillcrest High School by tutoring in all subjects (mostly math, which happens to be her least favorite).
Sarah Gentile is a spirited, ambitious young woman who balances an incredible amount of commitments and responsibilities on her plate, yet she sees it as making the most of her life. She said she felt like she was wasting her youth being stuck behind a computer screen during the pandemic. If her period of quarantine showed her anything, it was that she had to take advantage of experiencing the things she wanted to for so long. “We’re not going to let it slow us down, we’re going.” As she prepares to graduate, she isn’t going to waste another minute of precious time waiting to complete her bucket list.