News & Features, October 2017

A heart for the stage, a head for business

For many students, it’s a challenge choosing a college that meets their academic and personal needs and fits their personality. Cheyanne Yala, a sophomore theater major from Charlotte, N.C., found that it took two tries to get it right.

Yala didn’t realize what she needed until she transferred to Saint Augustine’s University.

“I was going to a local community college (in Charlotte, NC) straight out of high school, then I dropped out,” Yala said. “I began to work and my cousin [an SAU student at the time] told me about SAU. She told me to apply because attending college brings more opportunities. I applied, got accepted and now I am here.”

Ironically, the cousin transferred to the University of North Carolina at Charlotte (UNCC). But Yala ended up liking SAU and not having a family member on campus for support has not stopped her drive and determination to succeed. “You know seeing during the last convocation, my friends making the Dean’s List makes me want to be on the list too,” she said.

The liberal arts focus, smaller class sizes and easily accessible instructors at SAU have led Yala to conclude that she is in the right place. “It is better here for me being that at community college I was taking online classes – actually being in class is better for me,” Yala said.

Yala particularly likes the experience she has ben able to get as a theater major. “I was one of the stage directors in the play “A Song for Coretta”.  With that on my resume it shows that whenever I go to try for a scene I have some of the learning and skillsets it takes.”

For those who may not know or remember, the play was staged March 10-12t of this year.

Yala gives credit to her instructors for teaching her the skills she needs to know so far when it comes to theater – not only acting entity but the technical aspects of theater as well.

“Dr. [Celeste Kaye] Evans and Mr. [George] Jack are teaching me as a theatre team; they are getting me together,” Yala said.

Yala did not always aspire to life in the theater. “When I was younger, I wanted to be a boxer,” she said. “I was really into watching Mike Tyson. That did not turn into something solid. That was when I started looking at acting.”

She has sicne developed a strong appreciation for theater and acting. “Denzel Washington is one of my favorite actors and Spike Lee is one of my favorite directors,” Yala said. “One of my all-time favorite movie is “Gia”. The movie is about Gia Carangi a supermodel’s career who died due to HIV/AIDS. One of my favorite actresses, Angelina Jolie, played Carangi in the movie.”

It takes more than just having a love of watching movies and liking actors and actresses to decide to major in theatre. For Yala it was Instagram that really put fuel to fire that theatre was for her. “I started off making short Instagram videos and then I found out SAU had theatre and acting,” said Yala.

But being a theatre major is only one facet of Yala. She also has a strong affinity for entrepreneurship. Yala is known around campus to some of her friends for her shoe cleaning services, which she promotes through social media.

“I have been a sneaker head since probably the 10th grade,” she said. “That was like 8-9 years ago. You know I have always had an interest in shoes and I also like fashion”

In the future, her love for entrepreneurship may win out.

“One day, even though I am a theatre major, I want to go back to school for business and open up a shoe store and or a clothing boutique. I want my store to house a variety of brands mostly local interest brands.”

She also has her fashion blog on Instagram (@goldenzCritique).

Whatever she ends up doing, Yala says it is important for her to support her friends and local community. “I am more into supporting black-owned businesses and any locally owned businesses,” she said. “I always supporting my friends and their music on Sound cloud by listening and sharing.”

To her friends, Yala is unique. “You know Cheyanne is just a once in a lifetime student,” said her friend Elyscia Vaughn Brown, a junior communications major. “She has great ambition and is one of the nicest most fashionable students on campus.”

— Jazmin Powell