Kent State Senior Finishes School While Managing Her Full-Time Business

Bethany Westphal playing ukulele with Mayor of Akron Dan HorriganBethany Westphal is a very busy person.
Like most seniors, Ms. Westphal spends her time doing school work and preparing for graduation in May. But, at the same time, she also runs the full-time business she started herself.
Ms. Westphal founded Rising Center for the Arts, which aims to provide positive experiences in the arts for members of the Akron community.
“I wanted to create a safe space based on positivity and encouragement to practice the arts,” Ms. Westphal said. “That’s how Rising Star Center for the Arts was born.”
Ms. Westphal, who is completing an integrative studies degree at Kent State, has been heavily involved in the arts since childhood. The majority of Ms. Westphal’s own coursework is in music and theatre, which she uses as inspiration. She said she believes everyone should have a positive experience while learning. 
“Our model for teaching is 60% play and 40% learning,” Ms. Westphal said. “Above all else, we want students who come in to our center to leave better and happier than when they came in.”
Rising Center of the Arts offers a variety of music, art, theatre, dance and yoga classes for people of all ages. The center, which is open Monday through Saturday, has 46 students ranging in age from 3 years old to 67 years old.
Ms. Westphal teaches all of the private music classes at the center, including piano, violin, saxophone, clarinet, flute, trumpet, trombone, percussion, guitar, ukulele and voice lessons.
“I love meeting new people and just sharing my love for the arts,” Ms. Westphal said. “It’s just something really great that can bring people together and connect them. My students are so funny, and their families are great. I love both teaching and just interacting with them.”
The center also currently offers three theatre classes: a production of “The Jungle Book Kids” for elementary school-age students, a production of “Willy Wonka Jr.” for middle school-age students and an improv acting class.
Ms. Westphal said her business has grown significantly since its inception seven months ago. She recently hired seven new employees to help teach lessons and relocated to a new space with 4,300 square feet. Ms. Westphal credits her boyfriend for helping her run the business and even building a stage for the center.
Rising Star Center for the Arts hopes to provide greater access to the arts in the future.
“We provide scholarships to those in need when we can,” Ms. Westphal said. “We’re trying to start an outreach program and would like to have programs for everyone, even if they can’t afford a class.”
In addition to attending school and running her business, Ms. Westphal also is writing a book about starting a business at a young age.
“Being 22 years old, people always underestimate me,” Ms. Westphal said. “It’s very busy, but I definitely love every single minute of every day.”
For more information about Rising Center for the Arts, visit:

Photo Caption: Bethany Westphal playing ukulele with Mayor of Akron Dan Horrigan.

POSTED: Thursday, May 9, 2019 10:51 PM
Updated: Friday, December 9, 2022 07:31 AM
Erica Fowler