Ciara Borg is 5-foot, 3-inches tall, but at Ball State University she is the tallest student on campus.
The Ball State junior dance major’s image graces a 60-foot-long statement banner hung on the side of 10-story Teachers College, one of the University’s iconic buildings, as part of a new marketing campaign, “We Fly.” Ciara — one of several students featured in Ball State’s new branding efforts — also appears on two billboards in Indianapolis.
“The first time I saw the banner, I was shocked because it was so big,” said the 21-year-old, who grew up near the small, northern Indiana town of Shipshewana. “I was out of town when it went up in November, but all my friends on campus texted me photos.
“For a small town girl like me, being one of the faces of a major marketing campaign is a big honor. But, more importantly, it says a great deal about how a dancer can influence others and have a major impact.”
“We Fly” is part of a new brand strategy launched in November 2017. The theme, developed after months of research and focus group sessions, is a nod to Ball State’s promise to challenge each other to excel. The new University branding campaign includes television, radio, print, and digital advertisements.
“A tremendous combination”
The emergence of the young dancer as a cornerstone of the University’s branding campaign has invigorated students across campus and particularly within the major, said Susan Koper, an assistant professor of dance at Ball State.
“When I saw the image attached to the side of Teachers College, I felt so fulfilled,” said Professor Koper, now in her ninth year at Ball State. “It is a tremendous feeling to see one of our students, who is so passionate about her field, held up an example to the campus community and the state of Indiana.”
The veteran educator also believes her student has many positive labels in addition to “passionate,” including “compassionate” and “curious.”
“Ciara wants to learn. She wants to be pushed. She wants to grow. That’s a tremendous combination for any dancer.”
Now in her junior year studying dance, Ciara is enjoying college life but is preparing for her future.
“It is going to be nothing but auditions, auditions, and more auditions when I graduate,” said the aspiring dance professor, who also is a Presidential Scholar at Ball State. “I want to get into a professional dance company and right now I am trying to get my name out there. Last summer, I gained a great deal of experience at the American Dance Festival at Duke University. I’m looking forward to the next step.
“But, every time I see that image, I hope it will inspire students who want to go into the more artistic and creative route in college. I am so passionate about the arts. So many kids dance in high school and never have an idea that they can do this in college.”
In a recent interview, Ciara shared more highlights of her Ball State experience:
On choosing Ball State: “Coming from a small town with a high school class of 68 people, I was itching to attend a larger university where I would be exposed to such a vast, diverse community of people. Even from a young age I was surrounded with the wonderful success Ball State fosters, as several of my dance teachers I trained with before college were Ball State alumni. They painted a wonderful picture of Ball State as they always spoke so highly of their experience and the education they received from the Theatre and Dance Department, thus leaving me intrigued.
“Ironically, Ball State was the only in-state school that I applied to. I always had my mind set on attending an out-of-state university — however, after my trip to Ball State’s campus and auditioning for the dance major, I knew that this is where I wanted to call home for the next four years of my life.”
Favorite Ball State memory: “It is so hard to pick a favorite memory — there have been so many that I hold dear to my heart. A couple include: staying up freshman year within the Theatre and Dance Living-Learning Community, singing songs from Hairspray, A Chorus Line, and many others…; the sheer joy that came with performing in several mainstage productions within University Theatre; and the laughs and relationships that came with working within Ball State Dining.”
On what makes Ball State special: “The atmosphere of Ball State is enough to set it apart. The combination of caring and involved professors in tandem with the friendly and fun-loving community of people, in my eyes, makes Ball State extremely special. In addition, Ball State is constantly seeking to better itself and be inclusive to so many students.”