Yana is a music therapist at Snohomish County Music Project. Yana works to amplify the lived experience of the identities of the people they meet in the music therapy space, with an emphasis on neurodivergent and disabled identities. After earning an English degree from the University of Hawaii, Yana moved to Oregon to study music therapy at Marylhurst University, and later transferred to Pacific University. Yana supports individuals, families, and groups at the Music Project, including families in changing situations, LGBTQ+ teens, autistic children and young people, and elders; in addition, Yana enjoys collaborating on marketing and communications initiatives with Greta, Yana’s guide dog.
How did you first become involved with the Music Project? It was honestly magical the way I ended up here. I didn’t even know SCMP existed until I attended a workshop Vee lead at the Western Region Music Therapy Conference that was held in Portland, and I surprised myself by striking up a conversation with them afterward. That lead to, “I have an internship”, which lead to, “You do?”, which lead to taking the train for the first time, which lead to moving even further north, which lead to being challenged in so many ways, which lead to growing into my own skin, which lead to getting to stay in the place that grew us. Long story short, I got to intern at such a special place that aligns with all the things that keep my flame going, and had I not found SCMP, I don’t know that I would have kept going in the field. But I did, and I am, and I have grown so much into myself since being here. I couldn’t have dreamed of anything better.
What do you find most rewarding about your job? I find pretty much everything about working here rewarding, but I think the biggest thing is those moments of connection where I’m being authentically me and the person I’m existing within the space feels safe to be authentically them, and we just exist together. This could look like music, or talking, or lying on the floor just being. It is my favorite thing. I am still learning all the ways my intersecting identities make me me, and I really enjoy getting to hold space while others do the same. I am so fortunate that I get to be in relation with people that share some of my identities and those that do not.
Where is your hometown? My hometown is Makakilo, HI.
Who inspires you? My community inspires me. Those who speak out against the systems that keep us from thriving as our authentic selves, and those that fight to keep going while they must hide who they really are — those who hold space for others and those who are still learning to take up their own space. I am inspired by the communities I belong to because I am stronger because of them.
What did you want to be when growing up? When I was growing up, I wanted to be a teacher, an advocate, a writer, and a performer. In many ways, I get to do aspects of all of this today, which is very cool.
If you could plan a vacation anywhere in the world, where would you go? If I could plan a vacation, it would be somewhere where I could go on a long train ride.
What gives you joy? Hugs, laughter, music, doggies, babies – small ones and tall ones, books, and things I find cute – which could literally be anything.
If you were stuck on an island, what three (3) things would you bring? If I was stuck on an island… I grew up on an island, so if there was a way to care for my doggies, a way to nourish me, and a way to get off the island, I’d be good.
Share a fun fact about you. I didn’t experience snow until I was 26 years old, at which time the Snowpocalypse hit Portland – hard. Thanks, Elsa.