Ashayla Byrd ’21 chose Shenandoah out of a love for its community and its commitment to giving students freedom in their education. Starting as a math major, and later graduating with a degree in both dance and english, Byrd’s connection with the Shenandoah community helped her discover a whole new world.
“The campus is so small that you could probably yell across the quad and be heard by the friend you saw strolling on the sidewalk,” said Byrd. “That’s the beauty of Shenandoah; everyone knows everyone, and no one’s afraid to say hello!”
One of Byrd’s fondest memories at Shenandoah was at the Midnight Finals Week Breakfast, where she had the opportunity to bond with her friends and professors in a casual, enjoyable setting. During her time at Shenandoah, Byrd received the Dance Division’s Sigma Rho Delta and Terpsichore award, as well as the Conservatory Dean’s Undergraduate Award.
Today, Byrd works at Dance Place in Washington D.C., as the presentation administration assistant. In this role, she helps book, plan and execute Dance Place’s presentations. Byrd also manages relationships with both local and international artists and stakeholders.
One of the most rewarding experiences in Byrd’s career was in January 2023, when she attended a conference for the Association for Performing Arts Professionals in New York, New York. At the conference, she formed new connections with performers from all around the world, as well as experienced new and impactful performances.
Byrd’s time at Shenandoah prepared her for life by teaching her how to form strong, meaningful connections with others. “My time at Shenandoah showed me the importance of cultivating intentional connections with people and centering the relationships I can build rather than the transactions I can complete.”
Her advice to current and future students is: “Don’t be afraid to shake hands and converse with anyone who seems interesting to you! If they have cool glasses, tell them your name, a little bit about you and chat. You never know how that connection could impact your life!”