Danyoung ’12 arrived at Middlesex as a freshman a long way from home in Las Vegas, Nevada. Although, as Danyoung puts it, she didn’t really know what a home was until she came to Middlesex: “I admit that throughout my childhood I did not know what home was for me. I never felt I had a place I could call ‘my place.’”
Danyoung had never felt at home in Las Vegas, and she recalls that her middle school years were very unhappy. She sought an escape, and a New England boarding school seemed like the perfect antithesis to the desert of Las Vegas. Danyoung admits, “I confess I came to Middlesex not because I wanted to come to Middlesex, but because I wanted to come to a place that wasn’t Las Vegas.” The transition wasn’t easy for her. Danyoung recalls her difficulties freshman year, especially in English class: “I thought I was an outstanding writer when I first came in. I was not. Developing a logically coherent argument was challenging for me. But over the years, by engaging in the reading, in actively participating in class discussions, and pursuing on my own anything I was curious about, I have improved as an English student, which surely must be inevitable because you can only go up from the bottom. The successes I have found by embracing challenges are not only gratifying, but have illustrated to me how the intellect and the mind can grow at Middlesex. The classroom can be a magical place for each and every one of us, and by waking up every now and then and immersing yourself in knowledge and thought, you can surprise even yourself by how far you can go.”
In her time at Middlesex, Danyoung has come to call it home. “It is a place that I have come to love, not because it is the alternative to Las Vegas, but for the institution and the community it truly is. I feel at home here. I feel that Middlesex is the first home I have ever had. A home is where the heart lies and where one can find true happiness, where one can wake up with wonder for the new day -- in my case, that is if I can wake up, with no help from my six alarm clocks.”
Not only did Danyoung find her home at Middlesex, but she also found her voice -- literally. “Before I came to Middlesex,” she recalls, “I believed that there were two types of people in this world: those who could not sing, and those who thought they could sing. I was proud to call myself a member of the former. But coming to Middlesex my freshman year, swept away by the energy of stepping outside of comfort zones and seizing the day, I decided to live up to this perpetual chant of conquering your fears, and boldly joined Chapel Chorus.” When Middlesex Music Director Dr. Wetzel first heard Danyoung sing, he was “struck by the power and the purity of her voice. She opened her mouth, and out came a huge sound. When she sings, it is more than just a series of notes – there is emotion and a story being told. Her tone is rich, tight, and vibrant.”
For Danyoung, Chapel Chorus was the beginning of the rest of her life. “ I hope to pursue a music career for the rest of my life,” she says. “My focus in music is on classical, mainly opera. I find classical music simply exhilarating, and for me, opera creates emotion out of nothing, out of what is otherwise silence, and creates life.”
Danyoung will matriculate to Cornell University in the fall.