Friday, February 15, 2013

"Home Away From Home"

When Aurora Villacorta had her first interaction with the University YMCA, she had no idea the relationship would last decades. Aurora, or Miss V as she is more commonly known, first became involved as an international graduate student. The University YMCA hosted Freshmen Camp, which  took new students and gathered them together for a weeklong leadership and bonding experience at Allerton Park. It will come as no surprise to anyone who knows Miss V that after attending the camp, she returned as a group leader for new students.

The Y soon became a "home away from home" for Miss V as she attended international dinners and joined Y-sponsored spring break bus trips to learn about different parts of the United States. Fast-forward a few decades when Miss V's teaching career at the Y began. As a kinesiology professor at the University she had long-taught students on campus, but the inception of her classes at the Y began an institution in and of itself.

For over forty years, Miss V's dance classes have been a part of the Y's weekly routine. Several nights a week, Latzer Hall is filled with classical, Latin and other genres of dance music as she instructs students on not just the form, but also the etiquette of ballroom dancing. So beloved has she become, that her students honored her with a ballroom dancing sculpture in Urbana's Meadowbrook Park. There is no substitute for her discipline, focus and good will. She still considers the Y a "second home" on campus, and there is no doubt others feel the same way because of her warmth and kindness.

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