STUDENT SPOTLIGHT: Aislyn Hensley
MUSKOGEE – Cherokee Nation citizen Aislyn Hensley was accepted to New York University in the fall and plans to pursue two degrees while attempting the performing arts on Broadway.
Hensley, a Hilldale High School senior, said NYU has been her dream school for the past three years.
“The liberal arts core program I got accepted to is basically just a push study that has more of an emphasis on liberal arts,” she said. “I’m double-majoring in creative writing and political science. I’m minoring in musical theater.”
She added that she is most likely spending her first year studying abroad in London for creative writing and classical literature after getting accepted into a program that allows her to do so.
“I’ve been writing since I was 13, just little short stories that were sort of stereotypical pre-teen, angsty poetry, and I just fell in love with the art that goes into creating a story that is worth reading,” Hensley said. “I have at this point written an entire novel, and I’ve written another long-form story that is about 200,000 words long, and it’s what I plan on doing with the rest of my life. I love it.”
She said she loves performing equally as writing and wants to find a way to do both in New York.
“Part of the reason why I want to go to New York is I plan on doing theater workshops during weekends and on breaks and things and trying Broadway, making a run at it,” she said.
Hensley is five-year student of noted mezzo-soprano opera singer and CN citizen Barbara McAlister, who Hensley says helped her “immensely” in obtaining more roles in musicals.
“I do a lot of school musicals. She’s been immensely helpful in that,” she said. “There’s no way I would have gotten the roles that I have gotten without her help. I was cast as Golda in ‘The Fiddler on the Roof’ this past year and that was largely due to how much time and effort Miss McAlister has put into helping me become the vocalist I am now.”
She has also performed in “Into the Woods” at school and sang Handel’s “Messiah” with the Muskogee Community Chorus. “There’s no way I could have had the range or the skillset to do that without Miss McAlister,” she added.
Hensley is also a recipient of the Timothy Long Prize, a CN award that goes to a Native American voice student “who exhibits an intense passion and intuitive ability in the musical arts,” the award states.
“She (McAlister) is an amazing woman with an amazing story, and I am blessed and honored to have got to spend the last five years of my life under her tutelage,” Hensley said.