Meet Mikayla! She joined First Year and ADHT this year as our Program Administrator – we hope you’ll just us in welcoming Mikayla and get to know a little bit about her and her work!
First off, tell us a little bit about yourself! What were you up to before coming to Parsons? What led you to working in the First Year program at Parsons?
Before moving to New York and working at Parsons, I was finishing my Undergraduate degree in English with a Minor in Studio Art at Washington State University. After I graduated, I moved back home to Maryland to be a full time caretaker of my grandfather, while he was battling stage 4 cancer. I knew that I had always wanted to move to New York, that was the goal I was aiming for in college, however, the original plan was to attend Law School in New York. Unfortunately, I figured out a little late into my Senior year of Undergrad that Law School was a huge commitment that I wasn’t fully passionate about anymore. I realized that my involvement in Art and Literature meant more to me but in the space of program development, resource allocation and advocacy for underserved communities. I had put my life on hold for a while to take care of my grandfather but my mom continually encouraged me to better myself and find a career that would suit me best. I applied to the Parsons First Year Program for the Program Administrator position in ADHT because I worked in Administrative roles at my University. I saw a lot of growth for myself there and I felt that I could not only begin my career at Parsons but also learn from those around me and provide a sense of nuance to my role. Upon getting hired, I unfortunately also lost my grandfather prior to moving here. It was difficult emotionally, but I ultimately look at this opportunity to work in First Year as a new beginning that will ultimately create new experiences.
As the Program Administrator for First Year, what kinds of things do you work on?
As a Program Administrator, I work closely with Faculty and Staff on daily Operations that make the First Year experience run smoother. A large part of my job is making sure that I maintain effective communication with Faculty and Students about any events, program updates, and opportunities. Many of which are found in our weekly Newsletter, while also working alongside our amazing social and communications team on social media and Parsons Notes updates.
I also have various projects that I work on throughout the semester, whether that be in Faculty & Staff engagement events, First Year Workshops, organizing our streams of communication or being a part of working groups to assist in certain areas of our program.
What kind of creative work do you do? Is there anything in particular that inspires your work?
Creatively, I like to indulge in different artistic mediums and incorporate my own style as I learn new skills. Mostly, I would say that I am a painter but I haven’t done it in a while *yikes. In Undergrad, I thoroughly enjoyed printmaking, fashion rendering and creative direction in an editorial space. The editorial space introduced me to photography, styling, and magazine development, which I am finding to be a big passion of mine.
What typically inspires me are the communities that I am a part of and advocate for. While I tend to wear and surround myself with a lot of Black, my work tends to be inherently colorful and avant garde. However, my pieces tend to have a more serious or “darker” storyline that is associated with them. I am inspired by the sorie that do not get told or the ones that are difficult to discuss. Many of my pieces, whether painted, drawn or photographed tend to center around People of Color, Queer people, and folks with alternative lifestyles. Representation of these communities isn’t always seen and when they are, they tend to be stereotypical or there may be the inspiration of a community, without said community being present. I always try to centralize those who could tell the story I am portraying from their own experience, but in doing so, I try to make the piece as attention grabbing and surreal as possible.
What have been the biggest adjustments / enjoyments / surprises of living in New York?
The biggest adjustment for me is definitely figuring out public transportation. I have taken public transit before, but in smaller areas. I haven’t ventured out too far quite yet because I generally have a poor sense of direction already and trying to figure out the subway or the buses pose a slight challenge at times. And I am trying my best not to get hit by a delivery bike.
I genuinely enjoy the sense of community that New York has. Growing up on the East coast, you tend to have different experiences and there are always stereotypes about people being rude or in a rush. Since I have been here, I would absolutely say that the experience I have had with New Yorkers has been a good one. People are always willing to help and there are always new opportunities available to hang out and meet new people, create and enjoy the community.
Do you have a favorite spot for coffee/tea or food near campus?
KYURAMEN in Union Square or Little Italy Pizza are my typical go-to’s
Any advice you’d share with a First Year student at Parsons or an incoming First Year student?
As you begin and continue your educational journey, know that there is always something or someone that you can learn from. Community is just as important as self indulgence. We all come from somewhere and we are all trying to achieve great things, however, don’t let a bad day/year, surrounding competitiveness and the burning desire to be the best, take away your passion. These are all factors that are a part of your life but they do not define it.
P.S. Use ALL of the money on your meal plan, I didn’t get that money back and I wish I would’ve at least benefited by eating. Buying groceries in this economy makes me question my existence.
What were your favorite classes in college? Was there a particular class that had a major impact on you and your work?
My favorite classes were English 360: Rhetoric of Racism, Apparel Merchandising Design & Textiles 268: 2D Fashion Drawing, and Fine Art 300 level Printmaking.
My Rhetoric of Racism class invited a new outlook of approaching concepts of racist ideologies, political argumentation, and personal interactions as a Black person in America. This class contributed to my incessant means of advocating for people, but it also helped me figure out how to properly translate my ideas about our multiracial society into my creative work.
The fashion drawing class not only taught me how to render fashion and use Adobe creative suite, but the work I did in this class brought forth the opportunity to design an outfit for rapper Rico Nasty when she performed a virtual concert for our school. This allowed me to have a space in the fashion industry, which pushed me to become more involved with the Magazine club in our fashion department.
To see more of Mikayla’s work and to learn more, be sure to visit her website!
All images courtesy of Mikayla Makle.