Carve Your Own Path at K

Ynika Yuag Talks About Carving Her Own Path at K
Sophomore Ynika Yuag acts as John in Fun Home. The theatre department is where Ynika learned to carve her own path at K. Photo by: Katherine Nofs.

As a tour guide at K, I tell all my tours that my favorite students to interact with are the ones who have no idea what they want to do once they get to college. For someone who has always considered herself a forward-thinking and detailed-oriented planner, it may prove surprising to find out that when I was a high school senior, I had absolutely no clue what I wanted to study in college, either. In the middle of my senior year of high school, I was newly admitted into K and felt ecstatic about the prospect of starting a new chapter of my life, despite not knowing what I would do once I got there. Luckily, K is the perfect place to carve your own path.

Of course, as a high school senior I knew what subjects I was interested in. I loved writing, acting, and trying to understand human beings and their relationships with each other. I can probably guess what you’re thinking, because it’s also what I initially thought: those interests sound kind of random and unrelated. When I got to K, I soon found out that those interests were more connected that I ever thought, and they were appreciated and welcomed by our theatre department. My first year, I auditioned for the fall main stage musical Fun Home and had an incredible experience playing John Bechdel. K’s theatre department strikes a wonderful balance of welcoming students of all experience levels and teaching them that theatre is not just flashy costumes and sustained belting into eternity. The faculty and staff of the department are committed to helping students explore aspects of the craft outside of their comfort zones, as well as helping students excel in whatever field of theatre they may eventually focus on. While I entered our theatre department with a comfort zone of only acting experience, performing in my first show has propelled me into a career of other theatre roles that have never felt slow or dull.

Carve Your Own Path at K
Ynika Yuag shows what it means to carve your own path at K. She performed as Natalie in the Festival Playhouse production of Student Body. Photo by: Katherine Nofs.

Since my first-year fall show, I have participated in several roles that have pushed me beyond my interest in performance; besides an actor, I have been an assistant stage manager, usher, wardrobe crew hand, scenic shop helper, playwright, dramaturg, teaching assistant, and properties master. I quickly learned that K’s theatre department valued my interest in acting and performance, as well as my interests in writing and trying to understand the human condition—I was curious about how peoples’ personalities develop, as well as the motivations behind their interactions with others. I eventually incorporated these interests into dramaturgical work for Student Body, a show about sexual violence on a college campus for which I was both an actor and the dramaturg. As a dramaturg for this production, I was tasked with conducting background research for the play and discussing with the cast and other crew members how this research may inform the production. For our production of Student Body, I conducted research about sexual violence, focusing on college/university campuses. As a high school senior, I had no idea what a dramaturg was. This year, as a sophomore, I was awarded a Certificate of Merit for Dramaturgy from the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival.

Two years ago, I didn’t see myself pursuing a degree in theatre arts. Now, I see myself pursuing a career in it. Thanks to the guidance of the faculty and staff within the theatre department, I discovered that my interests are not only valuable, they are inherently interconnected in ways that prove beneficial to my current work in theatre. As a student who previously had no idea what I wanted to study, I remain incredibly grateful to the opportunities provided to me from the faculty as they guided me and encouraged me to try various disciplines and carve out my own path.

Ynika Yuag, a sophomore, enjoys performing in Festival Playhouse productions at Kalamazoo College.