It is impossible to confine Nina M. Yancy to a single label. Perhaps this is because she came from a small community outside Dallas, Texas, and a high school class of only 21. Or, more likely, it is because Yancy does it all.
Friends and distant admirers know her as “Nina the Dancer,” and “Nina the Rhodes Scholar,” and, due to a foot surgery the summer before her freshman year, “Nina the Girl with the Boot.”
She is one of 32 Rhodes Scholars, a dancer for Expressions and for The Harvard Ballet Company, First Senior Class Marshal, a volunteer for CityStep, a Peer Advising Fellow, a member of the Signet and the Crimson Key Society, and a former intern for both the CNN news anchor Candy Crowley and British Parliament. The only thing Yancy doesn’t do is get a decent night’s sleep.
But her sacrifice of REM time is not enough to explain her success. Yancy’s remarkable work ethic and grateful attitude are grounded in her upbringing and reinforced through her public service on campus.
Yancy comes from a family that she describes as hardworking and humble. Her great-grandparents were sharecroppers in Louisiana, her mother grew up in a large family with eight siblings, and a single mother raised her father. She appreciates everything that her father achieved through his hard work and determination, a fact that inspires her to act likewise but remain modest and grounded in all that she does.
Her participation in CityStep, a program that teaches dance to students in Cambridge schools, also helps her maintain an appreciation for all the opportunities that Harvard has given her. She joined the group her freshmen year and by her junior year was in charge of overseeing not only a class of 26 sixth graders, many of whom learned English as their second language, but also a team of college-aged teachers. This challenge, Yancy says, taught her how to lead, and perhaps more importantly, how to seek outside support.
Yancy expresses a strong interest in communication. She is interested in the challenges that arise from a lack of communication, from silence, and from the difficulties of authenticity. She hopes to continue exploring this interest after college. At Oxford, she plans to study Comparative Social Policy with a focus on public health, and hopes to work to help communicate effective health care policy between the government and hospitals.
Yancy’s plans are by no means set in stone, but while there is reason to doubt that she will be getting eight hours of sleep a night, it is guaranteed that Yancy will be building upon her reputation at Oxford.