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Modern Living in the Old South

Modern Living in the Old South

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Becoming Beth

Determined to make a difference, Beth Rucker is a positive force in the Lowcountry and beyond.

Behind every famous person, there are people who walk the same path with them, often hidden in
the shadows. It takes a strong individual to remain shadowed alongside fame, attempting to quietly live their lives through the often whirlwind experiences that come with the territory. It takes an even stronger one to rise up and carve a place out for themselves, standing tall and proud on their own right. Beth Rucker falls firmly in the latter category. An introspective, compassionate, enlightened woman, Beth is a powerhouse of authenticity. Often quiet, Beth is the type of person whom people lean in to listen to, as her voice contains the wisdom of someone who has spent decades yearning and seeking for understanding of both herself and others. In recent years, Beth has channeled that transformative energy into projects and people close to her heart, including her beloved children and their peers through her nonprofit, Just Be You. Guided by a mantra to “trust the process,” Beth’s path is one that reflects a woman led by her heart and inner strength.

Growing up on the Jersey Shore as the youngest of eight children, Beth always had a creative mind. She spent hours working on unique creations, including dollhouses made of shoeboxes and tape, losing herself in the little worlds she created. As she got older, she developed an eye for fashion, rethinking handed down clothing into wearable works of art. Driven, she went on to acquire an associates degree in Liberal Arts, and then a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Fashion Merchandising from Montclair State University in New Jersey. Later, she would graduate with a Masters Degree in Clinical Counseling from the Citadel.

In her early twenties, Beth moved to New York City, making ends meet through substitute teaching, working in a department store, and occasionally helping a friend who worked on health fairs for
large companies. It was during that gig that she walked into Viacom, the network that produced MTV and VH1. On the seventh floor overlooking Times Square, the space was filled with a creative,
progressive energy. Beth immediately took charge, finding the exact woman she needed to speak with to try to get a job at the network. Three days later, she had a job in human resources. A month later,
she moved to production at VH1. Shortly after that, she took a job in music and talent for VH1. Moving ahead with bold, confident choices and excelling at every job she held, Beth made a life for herself of which she was proud.

During her time at VH1, Beth met Darius Rucker, a musician from Charleston, South Carolina known at the time for being a founder and frontman of the band, “Hootie and the Blowfish.” They fell in love, got married, and split their time living between New York City and Charleston. They had a daughter, Daniela, in 2001. Four months later, the terrorist attacks of September 11th severely impacted their city. With a lease on their home ending that very same month, the family opted to move to Charleston full time, settling in near Sullivan’s Island. They had a son, Jack, in 2004, rounding out the family that included Darius’ daughter and Beth’s stepdaughter, Carolyn.

Anyone who knows Beth Rucker can attest to the fact that she adores her children, and works hard to connect with them, even—or especially—as they navigate the often treacherous waters of being a teenager. Between raising her children, sitting on the Board of the MUSC Children’s Hospital, and getting to know other young people in the community, Beth became increasingly aware of the struggles so many pre-teens and teens are facing regarding anxiety and depression. “Originally I thought I’d become a therapist and offer sessions for free,” Beth recalls. “I got my Masters Degree in Clinical Psychology with that in mind. Once I started talking with kids and listening to their stories, I realized that it is not just a handful of kids in our area who need therapy sessions. I kept hearing stories that included anxiety and depression, feelings of not fitting in, not feeling worthy or confident in themselves. I also found out that suicide is the second leading cause of death among adolescents. I thought, “I’ve got to start something where I can reach these kids on a larger scale. So, in 2017, I founded Just Be You.”

With a mission “to build teen’s confidence through self-compassion and self-love,” Just Be You works with schools to create assemblies, workshops, and other gatherings to connect with young people at their level, encouraging them to share and connect with one another and themselves as the Just Be You team helps to equip them with the tools they need to take charge of their mental and emotional health. With Austin Nelson at the helm as Executive Director, Just Be You is reaching thousands of Lowcountry students, and set to go on tour this year to reach thousands more. Last September, the organization had their largest gathering to date, filling the seats at the Gaillard Center. Working with the Gaillard Center’s Education and Community Program and local schools to offer the program free of cost, Just Be You welcomed former NFL

linebacker and television sports anchor Corey Miller, Emmy- award winning dancer and choreographer Angel Roberts, and musician extraordinaire Darius Rucker to the stage. The speakers engaged students, shared their stories of teenage angst, and helped shed light on common feelings and shared experiences between the teens. Motivational speaking events such as this one are followed up with in-school workshops, allowing the Just Be You team to talk more in depth about self-love, mindfulness, and common humanity.

For Beth Rucker, the central message she hopes to impart is one that will help the teens throughout their entire lives.

“It all really starts with self-compassion; you can’t be good to others if you can’t be good to yourself first,” says Beth. “As adults, we should be there for our teens as models and guides, but we have to appreciate who they are and who they are becoming rather than try to define them.This is all about teaching them to embrace who they are.”

When a teenager embraces who they are, Beth explains, the anxiety of trying to fit in lessens. When they develop self-compassion, they are able to extend that understanding of oneself onto others, allowing them to deflect potentially harmful bullying by leading with love. Empowered, they can take ownership of their feelings, and learn to work through them in a healthy way. All of this adds up to a resilience that becomes extremely useful as teens work through the highs and lows of middle school, high school, and beyond.

In 2020, Just Be You will go on tour to surrounding states, while also working with more teens in the Lowcountry. The team is also working on a podcast, in hopes to reach teens and their parents at home, opening the door to further conversation. Additionally, they are working on creating packets so teens can start “Just Be You” clubs at their own school, encouraging them to cultivate kindness and confidence in themselves and their peers.

Three years after deciding to form her nonprofit, Beth Rucker can recall so many Just Be You experiences that touched her heart. All of them share a common thread: that in the end, a young person was walking a little taller, feeling a little better about themselves, and realizing that they matter. Had Beth Rucker chosen to, she could have lived her life in the shadows, finding contentment in living her own life in peace and quiet, never impacting anyone else. Wonderfully for the teens of the Lowcountry and beyond, she’s stepped into the light, and just like the people her nonprofit reaches, she stands tall and proud. AM

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