Quintessential Kenyon: Student Life, Uncut

What I Didn't Expect About Kenyon

Natalie Kane
January 9, 2017

During my sophomore year, I worked as an overnight host for prospective students visiting Kenyon, and one of the questions I was asked most frequently was some variation of “What made you choose Kenyon?” For me, the most concise – but probably least helpful – answer is that it was a combination of many factors. As we close in on the application deadline once again, I’ve been thinking back on what I expected when I applied to Kenyon, and the ways those expectations have been exceeded since I’ve arrived in Gambier.

I applied to Kenyon because I wanted to pursue my passion for drama while also having the opportunity to explore a strong liberal arts curriculum, but what I didn’t know was that I’d end up minoring in classics and participating in a theatre program in Greece. I knew I was interested in double majoring, and the combination I ended up with – drama and history – wouldn’t have surprised me. But when I was putting together my class schedule for my freshman year I stumbled across Ancient Greek in the searchable online course catalog. Having long been interested in classical mythology and drama, I was intrigued and ended up registering for the course. Although my amazing professor did not succeed in convincing me to become a classics major (though she certainly tried!), I took two challenging but wonderful years of Greek, declared a minor, and last summer fulfilled my dream of traveling to Greece. Through the Classics Department, I learned about a two-week study abroad program based in Athens with a dual focus on history and drama – a perfect combination that I likely would not have heard about had I not happened upon that section of the course catalog. 

Performing as part of my study abroad program in Greece.

I applied to Kenyon because I loved the close-knit and vibrant campus community and there seemed to be many extracurricular offerings, but what I didn’t know was that I’d become a competitive ballroom dancer. It’s true that Gambier can seem pretty quiet at first glance – which means our energies are focused on Kenyon’s abundant on-campus clubs and organizations. When I visited as a prospective student, I was intrigued by the Ballroom Dance Club. I was excited to check out the club if I came to Kenyon, but I never would have guessed it would become such a special, central part of my college experience. Between attending, and now teaching, lessons, practicing for intercollegiate competitions, and choreographing showcase routines, ballroom has proved a wonderful way to socialize, exercise, and take a much-needed break from studying.     

Dancing in a ballroom routine I choreographed for Dancing With the Kenyon Stars 2016.

I applied to Kenyon because I liked the small class sizes and accessible faculty, but what I didn’t know was that I’d be stage managing a faculty-directed production by my sophomore year. Kenyon has relatively small departments and classes, so you can start making connections with faculty right away. This means that some opportunities faculty might limit to upperclassmen at a larger school – such as research positions, or, in my world of the Drama Department, stage management and assistant directing of department productions – can be offered to underclassmen. At the end of freshman year, one of my professors asked if I’d be interested in stage managing his production of “Our Town” the following winter, which proved to be one the most challenging and work-intensive things I’ve ever done, but also one of the most rewarding. While stage management isn’t my first-choice career path, the opportunity gave me invaluable management and personnel experience and helped me feel much better prepared to start directing my own student productions and to take on my senior thesis project next year. 

Calling light and sound cues during a performance of "Our Town."