Alumni Business - Rita Gentile
Owner | RG Performing Arts Studio
2008 | Music
Becoming a Business Owner
I wish I had a fancy story to tell, but my journey started as just a fleeting random thought! My husband moved his real estate office into a new location, and one day I was sitting at a conference table they kept on the lower level of the building, which hadn’t been updated in decades. As I looked at the space I thought, “I think I could do something with this.” In my mind, I imagined knocking out a wall, remodeling the offices, and envisioned where pianos might go.... and I was fortunate to have a supportive husband who immediately said, “Go for it.” In what seemed the blink of an eye, we transformed the lower level into private studios with a shared dance space, moved in pianos, brought some excellent instructors on board, and were ready to welcome students!
Why did you decide to attend UW-Parkside?
I initially spent some time auditioning out East but ultimately decided to accept Parkside’s undergraduate offer because the voice teacher I had been working with throughout high school was on the music faculty. Studying an instrument, especially voice, is a highly personal experience and one that requires an incredible amount of trust in your teacher. I knew I had already found that match in Professor Lisa White and was thrilled to be able to continue to work with her at Parkside. Professor White guided me to a first-place win in the National Association of Teachers of Singings (NATS) competition as a freshman.
Favorite UW-Parkside memory?
My favorite memory as a student at UWP was from my 19th birthday! I spent my birthday on stage at Carnegie Hall singing in the chorus for the Faure Requiem under the direction of Parkside professor, Dr. James Kinchen. The memory of performing in an iconic venue at such a young age will remain with me for a lifetime. Dr. Kinchen remains one of my most respected mentors and cherished friends.
How did your UW-Parkside experience impact your professional or personal life?
UW-Parkside impacted my professional life through the invaluable connections I made with faculty, many of whom I am still in contact with today. It is a lifelong support to have professors turn into mentors, then colleagues, and then friends. I remember high school classmates being wary of “staying home” for college, but for me there was an overwhelming amount of positive that came from staying connected to the Kenosha community.
I have been pleased to host many UW-Parkside music students in my classroom over the years. It has been rewarding to work with future music teachers, especially from my alma mater, as they complete their fieldwork and hone their choral craft.
Advice for current UW-Parkside students?
Never stop learning. Schooling doesn’t have to end after completing your undergraduate degree. Seek out opportunities to grow in your field no matter how small the opportunities seem at the time. You can have your cake and eat it too! I have three beautiful children, a full-time teaching position, my studio business, serve on community committees, and still remain an active learner in a Doctoral program through Boston University. Don’t let anyone tell you, “you can’t.”