Senior Standouts: Dayna Svoboda '15
It all started when Dayna Svoboda ’15 was cut from the volleyball team as a high school sophomore.
After that she didn’t know what to do with her life. Her sister was good at sports, so she “always thought that was what she was supposed to do.” Then her friends convinced her to try out for the school play.
She auditioned and was cast in an ensemble.
“I had five lines that consisted of, ‘Oh yeah, I don’t know,' really simple things,’” she said, “and the rest of the time I was just in the background."
But she loved every second, and eventually graduated to better roles.
Svoboda, of Seward, is a theatre major with sociology and English minors. Her college journey, much like how she got into theatre, has been unexpected.
She didn’t want to come to Doane. She wanted to go outside of Nebraska, far away from home. It was her mom who made her visit.
“I ended up really liking it from the second I stepped on campus. The campus is really beautiful, which helps, but also I just really got along with the professors that I talked to,” Svoboda said. “(Theatre director) Rob McKercher, I met with him, and I was pretty much sold, and he really made me feel like I would be doing work that mattered, theatre that mattered and that I would be getting a really full artistic experience if I came here.”
As a freshman, she was cast alongside seniors in “39 Steps,” a melodrama that calls for a cast of four. Svoboda was the only female and had to play three separate women with whom the lead actor had romantic entanglements.
Svoboda was amazed that she got the role, she said, and that was a changing point for her, making her realize that she could maybe pursue a career in theatre. It also helped her come out of her shell.
Svoboda described herself as “painfully shy” when she came to college.
“I couldn’t really talk to anyone and never really said anything in class,” she said. “I have definitely grown as a person. There have been a lot of people here who have encouraged me and told me that I could do this. I wouldn’t have done a lot of things if there weren’t people here telling me that I could do them.”
The support she received included encouragement to apply for internships this past summer. Svoboda got her top two choices.
She worked in New York City for the Planet Connection Theater, an organization that donates all money earned from its productions towards charity. In addition to raising money and helping run the box office, Svoboda had the opportunity to help stage manage a show. She also worked at the Fulton Theater in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, where she was an education intern. The theater runs an academy where they do work with constructive creativity, which was the thing Svoboda found most interesting.
“A lot of times we think creativity is this messy process,” she said. “But we tried to work on giving (kids) a constructive environment where they could be creative. People don’t realize that creativity actually takes a lot of discipline.”
Both internships gave Svoboda the opportunity to explore the intersection between art and humanities, which is the path she recently discovered she wanted to take.
Her interest was initially sparked after taking a sociology class. Svoboda felt like theatre was the study of people anyways, so deciding to add the sociology as a minor was an easy transition.
“It was just a natural thing that I would enjoy that as well,” she said. “Now I can at least put a term to what I was already exploring in theatre. When we’re doing theatre I’ll think, ‘Oh this character is like this sociological,’ and I’ll apply some term or I’ll think about something that I learned in psychology that will apply to this. It’s very interwoven for me.”
And her career goals have shifted because of the connection she found. Svoboda wants to enter art therapy, which uses the creative process of art to improve and enhance the physical, mental and emotional well-being of people, when she graduates.
She plans to study for the Graduate Record Examination over the summer and apply by Christmas to graduate school at the University of Chicago, which has one of the top sociology programs in the country.
“I think that’s another reason why liberal arts is a really good choice,” she said. “I wouldn’t have taken those classes if I hadn’t had to fulfill that requirement and now I’ve learned that that’s part of what I want to do with my life.”