Yana Nafysa Dombrowsky-M'Baye

Yana Nafysa Dombrowsky-M'Baye

Indigenous Program Intern, Sundance Institute, Los Angeles
Bachelor of Design in Spatial Design

She was looking for a degree that would challenge her and open up new ways to grow her creativity, says spatial design alumna Yana Nafysa Dombrowsky-M'Baye.

“I had never heard of a spatial design degree and I wasn’t sure what to expect, but it ended up being one of my best decisions. There was a moment in my final year when my lecturer said, ‘Spatial design is the design that fits in between all creative disciplines; it’s flexible, malleable and adaptable’. Since they said that, I’ve had the confidence that no matter where I go there will always be a place for my practice.”

The people she met throughout her studies were among the highpoints of Yana’s time at AUT.

“Between the lecturers, technicians, tutors and friends I made at AUT I have an entire family that I wouldn’t change for the world. The lecturers always kept my interest in the degree at a peak throughout the years. We were constantly taught new theories and ways to experiment with our practices, which made engaging with critics from both the workforce and the university much smoother.”

Strengthening indigenous voices
When she was in her final year at AUT, Yana was tossing up between taking on postgraduate study or getting a taste of the real world. Then, she came across the AUT Internz programme and the opportunity to work for the Sundance Institute in Los Angeles.

“Before I could even finish reading the name ‘Sundance’ it was all happening. As an intern for our Indigenous Program, I now take care of all the small yet necessary jobs that allow fellowships, programmes, events and the festival to run smoothly. I spend a lot of time interacting with people in the industry, keeping in touch with our alumni and fellows, as well as contributing to the planning of the festival’s monumental events.”

Sundance truly is a magical place for creatives, Yana says.

“There’s always something going on and a fun opportunity is always waiting around the corner, just waiting to be sparked. Being part of a team that upholds such a small yet mighty programme in an industry like Hollywood, and in the political climate we are in right now, is what I find most fulfilling.

“No matter what I do, I know that it’s going toward uplifting and strengthening the voices of indigenous people in modern media and today's global conversations.”

Advice for other students
Having graduated from AUT at the end of 2019, Yana has some great advice for other students.

“No matter how challenging and overwhelming it may seem at the start, we all take time to settle into new environments.”

Never be afraid to put your hand up to ask a question, she adds.

“There’s always someone there to help, and everyone at AUT is here to see you succeed. We’re all rooting for you!”

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