Make It Millikin: Sophia Zinger
Theatre Major / Gender Studies Minor
Internship gives Millikin student opportunity to form connections with LGBTQ theatre artists
Developing skills and finding the right career niche is all part of the internship experience, but so is the people you meet and the connections that are made. Sophia Zinger's internship experience has given her the opportunity to make connections that will shape her career path in many ways.
Zinger, a junior theatre major with a gender studies minor at Millikin University, has been spending her summer serving as the artistic administrative intern for the Youth Empowerment Performance Project (YEPP) in Chicago. The Youth Empowerment Performance Project is a unique theatre initiative that creates a safe environment for LGBTQ youth experiencing homelessness to explore their history, investigate new ways to address their struggles, and to celebrate their strengths through the process of developing a theatrical performance piece.
"In working with YEPP, I have gotten the opportunity to form connections with LGBTQ theatre artists throughout Chicago and have gotten to participate in a lot of critical conversations about gender," said Zinger.
Zinger says her internship experiences through YEPP will play a major role in her future profession. "In any way that I can, as a future professional, I want to continue using the arts as a means to empower LGBTQ folx," she said. "After this internship, I hope to come to a clearer understanding of my options along this path. I have already begun to see that working with YEPP will give me some much needed experience to back up my ideas and set me forth into the future."
No stranger to the stage, the Oak Park, Ill., native recently made her Millikin Mainstage debut performing in the production of "Julius Caesar" in October 2018. She also appeared in Chicago Youth Shakespeare's productions of "Macbeth" (Lady Macduff), "Hamlet" (Gertrude) and "Comedy of Errors" (Luciana). Zinger recently portrayed Heather Chandler in Encore Academy's production of "Heathers." She is also a member of Millikin's improv troupe, Math Club.
When it comes to working with YEPP, Zinger says it's important to remember that not everyone is going to start from the same place and to lead with positivity.
"Number one; meet people where they are. People come from all sorts of backgrounds and have all sorts of experiences they are bringing to the table," she said. "If you want to further someone's understanding or potential, you have to meet them where they are first and without judgment. Things at YEPP can get a little heavy sometimes, but people are always playing music and hugging each other and being conscious about having a positive attitude. I don't think the work could get done without that. Also, if something doesn't exist yet, create it."
Zinger added, "Just this summer, I've been witness to a lot of changes going on in YEPP. The program is constantly evolving and working to better itself. If they need something new, they don't wait for it to magically appear, they bring it to fruition."
As a student at Millikin, Zinger has been involved with the Shakespeare Corrected program – a signature curricular program that brings undergraduate students together with incarcerated and disadvantaged populations to collaborate and create a theatrical experience intended to inspire transformation and redemption in students, participants and their families.
Beginning with building skills through monologues and discussion, the nine-month program culminates in a series of performances of a full scale Shakespeare play for audiences of friends, family and other inmates.
"I have definitely applied things I've learned from Millikin to my internship," said Zinger. "Namely, I apply the confidence that I developed through Millikin's Shakespeare Corrected program to working with new people and the ever-changing programs in YEPP."