Theatre grad heading to Columbia University to study creative writing
Cheyenne Bieber, 26, graduated from Inver Hills Community College with her Theatre Transfer Pathway Associate of Fine Arts (A.F.A.) in May 2022. Cheye loves the theatre. In fact, she has centered her career goals on becoming a playwright. She is following her dream by attending Columbia University in the City of New York, a private, Ivy League school with 7 percent acceptance and 96 percent graduation rates.
“Columbia was my top choice,” Cheye said. “I’m really excited about moving to New York. I literally have fantasized about living in New York since I was a little girl—and I’m finally able to do it!”
George Roesler, MFA, serves as theatre faculty at Inver Hills. George has taught theatre courses and directed student-produced plays at the college for more than three decades. He reported that he cast Cheye in a Zoom production of An Assembly of Phantasms, a two-act play featuring The Hitchhiker and Edgar Allen Poe’s “…And an Echo Murmured Back.”
“Cheye proved to be a most creative and dedicated actor,” George said. “She has a strong sense of character and responsibility. Her desire to learn is rooted in a desire for personal and professional improvement.”
George added that directing Cheye in the production was very enjoyable. “She worked hard on her character development, and her leadership skills motivated everyone involved in the project. She is very focused on her future, and I know she will take the skills she learned in theatre and apply them to whatever adventure life hands her.”
Fast fact: The Columbia University School of Arts founded the Undergraduate Creative Writing Program in 1911, becoming one of the first universities in the U.S. to offer creative writing classes.
Watch Cheye’s performance in An Assembly of Phantasms:
Cheye’s work on Sylvia
Cheye also worked behind the scenes on the spring 2022 production of Sylvia, directed by Lisa Weaver. She provided photos for an Inver Hills News story about the play. Also theatre faculty at Inver, Lisa was impressed by Cheye’s resourcefulness.
“Cheye was an essential part of the creative team that worked on Sylvia,” she said. “After scheduling issues made it too challenging for her to act in the production, we needed to figure out how she could fulfill the hours required for the THTR 1161 course. We landed on Marketing and Publicity, and she took the reins and ran with it!”
Lisa noted that Cheye created a wonderful poster, took headshots and production photos, put together the program content, and designed a creative and funny lobby display.
“I don’t think I can take much credit for her A.F.A. training (George gets the lion’s share for that!), but I will say that we are doing something right!” Lisa said. “Cheye is creative, versatile, hardworking, talented, and smart! I already told her I would hire her to work on marketing a show again in a minute so I am sorry to hear she will be so far away!”
Cheye’s path to Inver Hills
Cheye enlisted in the U.S. Army Reserve right after she graduated from Hartley-Melvin-Sanborn High School in May 2014. She shipped off to basic training in October of that year and completed her military training in April 2015. She served from 2014 to 2021 as a 68W, or medic, and reached the rank of sergeant (E-5).
When asked what inspired her to join the Army Reserve, Cheye responded, “When I was a senior is high school, I wanted to join the U.S. Navy. I talked to the recruiter on and off for about seven months and got nowhere. So out of spite, I walked across the hall to the Army office—and I signed my contract two weeks later. On a more honest note, I’m a small, 5-foot-even girl. I just wanted to prove that I’m not as fragile as I look.”
Cheye mentioned that the Army taught her a lot about leadership. “I’ve had lots of examples of good leaders, and a lot of examples of bad leaders, too,” she said. “I was able to learn from both. I also learned a lot about how to just power through things are aren’t enjoyable—all bad things come to an end, sometimes you just gotta wait it out for a bit.”
During her time in the Army Reserve, Cheye attended cosmetology school at PCI Academy in Ames, Iowa. Her schedule was crowded: she worked 40 hours a week as a shift leader at Dunkin Donuts while putting in 40 hours a week at the academy. She graduated at the top of her class in August 2016.
“The next month I started work as a hair-cutting specialist at Salon Spa W in Des Moines, Iowa, one of the top 200 salons in the United States,” she recalled. “I was gainfully employed at the spa until October 2017 when the Army Reserve mobilized me to be part of a year-long mission in Fort Bliss, Texas.”
While on mobilization in Texas, Cheye discovered she had little enthusiasm for going back to work as a hairstylist.
“Although I was good at my job and made good money, I wasn’t passionate about doing hair,” she said. “I realized I was settling. I knew I was passionate about theater—I have been since middle school. I’ve always dreamed of being part of a creative team and watching a Broadway show come to life. Live stage theater is what makes me feel most alive and most connected to humanity. When I go to see a show, I marvel at how people from all walks of life come together and become part of a collective mind. It is beautiful what a room full of strangers can share.”
In August 2018, Cheye started taking online classes at Inver Hills, working toward earning her Theatre Transfer Pathway A.F.A. She wasn’t ready to take on a full course load while working full-time at the spa. After completing her Army Reserve active-duty orders that fall, she landed a job at Delta Airlines. She continued taking classes at Inver Hills part-time while transitioning back to her one-weekend-a-month obligation to the Army.
The COVID-19 pandemic ended her employment at Delta in March 2020. That summer she signed a three-year contract to join the Army’s Individual Ready Reserve (IRR). She then took on the role of manager at a David’s Bridal in Rochester, Minnesota. She recently accepted a new job as a paraprofessional at a nature-based preschool.
Cheye’s work experiences taught her a multitude of skills—the importance of empathy, the value of honesty and integrity, attention to detail, clear and effective communication, and many other valuable lessons. She strives to implement these skills into all areas of her life, work, school, personal, and otherwise.
“However, what impacted me most was not a skill I acquired, but the realization that I have all the qualities needed to be successful,” she related. “In short, I didn’t apply to college sooner than 2018 because I feared failure. I knew I was passionate about theater, but I thought it was too risky of a career, so I settled. I know my worth now. I don’t have to settle. That is part of the reason I applied to Columbia University.”
You can follow Cheye on Instagram @thelifeofcheye.
More about Cheye…
Cheye is originally from Hartley, Iowa, a city in O’Brien County with just over 1,600 residents. She’s married and her husband, Jake, works as a nurse. Jake also served in the U.S. Army Reserve—they met at Fort Bliss while taking part in the same mission. Jake is 28 and hails from Byron, Minnesota.
Cheye comes from a very large family; she has four brothers and three sisters:
- Jonathan, 28, her big brother, works as a postmaster
- David 25, lives in Arizona and his job involves dispatching
- Dan, 23, works as a cook
- James, 21, is a insurance agent
- Cher, 19, is a dance teacher; she’s attending Northwest Iowa Community College for her generals
- Cherryl, 16, is super artsy and an amazing painter
- Char, 13, is the coolest teen you’ll ever meet; she has Down Syndrome and loves videogames and a Korean boy band called TXT
Cheye’s mom and dad, Bill and Josie, continue to reside in Hartley, Iowa, which happens to be the birthplace of Vicki Myron, author of Dewey: The Small-Town Library Cat Who Touched the World, and Maurice Pate, co-founder of UNICEF. Josie is from the island of Bohol in the Philippines, an archipelagic republic in Southeast Asia.
Cheye is a first-generation-born American on her mom’s side, third-generation on her dad’s. She has visited the Philippines four times to visit her mom’s family. She even completed an Inver online summer course from the Philippines.
“I’m so grateful I’ve been able to visit my mom’s home country both as a child and as an adult,” she said. “That experience gave me a unique and valuable perspective, making me appreciate being raised in middle-class America. My favorite thing about going to the Philippines is seeing family. It’s amazing how close people can stay with one another despite living so far away.”
The Bieber family has two pets, one cat and one dog.
“Our dog’s name is Elder Kevin Charlie Price (we just call him Price),” Cheye said. “He’s named after the main characters from the musicals The Book of Mormon and Kinky Boots. He was a street dog in the Philippines when we met. We just fell in love with each other, and I brought him home. We think he’s about 4 years old. It’s his third year being an American dog. 😊
“Kimbe is our cat. She’s a sweetie. She was also a stray. When I met her, she climbed right up onto my shoulder, and I thought, Well, this is my cat now.”
Cheye revealed that Kimbe was quite angry when Price showed up in her household. “She’s over it now. They have an ‘annoyed big sister/annoying little brother’ relationship. But you can tell they do actually care about each other.”
Cheye loves to travel—she’s been to about half of the United States. “I recently traveled to Australia to run a half-marathon, my first half since COVID started,” she said. “I missed my graduation at Inver Hills because of it, which was a bummer, yet worth it. I have run four half- marathons, but I don’t think I actually like to run. I think I just like the feeling of pride that comes with accomplishing things.”
In her free time, Cheye also enjoys singing. She developed a fondness for singing after she fell in love with musicals in middle school when her mom signed her up for voice lessons and her instructor made her sing songs from Wicked.
“I love to sing!” she said. “Wednesday is my favorite day because my local bar has karaoke. I’m a really crafty person as well. I love making things. I love to sew. I made my own wedding dress because I couldn’t find one I liked.”
Cheye resides with Jake, Price, and Kimbe in Rochester, Minnesota. Everyone will be heading for New York City in the near future.
Cheye life and family gallery
One word that best describes your experience at Inver Hills:
I know that’s not really a creative answer to that question. But I truly had a great experience at Inver Hills. I am extremely impressed with how supportive everyone is. Seriously, every single professor, counselor, administrator, and everyone in between cares about the students and wants them to succeed. It is a positive and encouraging environment. — Cheye Bieber, 2022 Alumna, Inver Hills Community College
Cheye Bieber • Q & A
What did you like best about homeschooling?
I’ll be honest, I didn’t like being home-schooled. I was a super-social kid growing up. I was happy to start taking classes at the public high school.
Why did you choose Theatre as your major at Inver Hills?
I chose theater because I love theater! I’m a big Broadway nerd. I always try to stay up to date on what new shows are opening up on the Great White Way. I knew I wanted to get a bachelor’s in writing, and I thought it would be a good idea to get a good foundation in theater before I started to really delve into writing.
What did you like best about the Theatre program?
I enjoyed being involved in the productions. I learned a lot in my classes, but I learned even more just from being involved in the plays.
What do you enjoy most about creative writing?
I enjoy exploring how other people feel, and I like telling the stories of those people in a way that is beautiful.
Three words that describe you as a college student:
OVER-ACHIEVING. DETAILED. STRESSED.
Why did you choose becoming a playwright as your career path?
Because I am not wise enough to choose a career path that will guarantee me money. 🤭 😅 However, I am wise enough to know that I will have so much regret if I don’t try.
Theater teaches empathy. And empathy is one of the most valuable skills a person can have. There is a lot of fear and anger in the world that is caused by a lack of understanding. If we could all learn to see things from other peoples’ point of view, we’d all have a lot more peace.
Who is your favorite playwright and why?
Stephen Sondheim! He’s so creative. But at the same time, he’s so smart and he thinks so critically. Every song in his musicals is perfectly and intentionally written to show the audience who the character really is in that moment.
What is your favorite play and why?
The Book of Mormon. I love it because it’s a funny, upbeat, show-tune-y show that discusses a serious topic. Without outright saying it, the message is that too strict of religion can end up being the detriment of religion. And that good things happen when you are a little more open-minded. I can’t think of another show that tackles a complex, controversial topic like that that maintains it’s comedy the whole time.
What person has influenced your life the most and why?
My dad, probably. I don’t think he ever really tried to be influential. He was just such a hard worker, and he never complained about anything. He led by example. He is also extremely creative, not in a crafty way, but in a problem-solving way. He definitely taught me how to be open-minded when looking for ways to fix things.
Where do you hope to find yourself in 20 years?
On a beach drinking a piña colada out of a coconut with one of those little drink umbrellas.
Oh goodness, I’ll be 46. I’d love to be living in Des Moines, Iowa, in a renovated, old church. I imagine that my husband and I will have a few preteens by then. I’d love to be living off royalties so my husband and I can be super-involved with our kids’ lives and each other.
And I’d love to have a name for myself in the theater community and work on passion projects. And I hope that my husband gets to go fishing a lot, and that my kids are involved in extracurriculars that they enjoy.
Oh! And my best friend and I have a fantasy of having houses right next to each other with a tunnel that connects them, and we can hide from our families and eat chocolate and drink wine together when we’re stressed.
Cheye Bieber: Creative writing
By Cheye Bieber
For My Jake
Blond haired boy and funny named girl were as in love as lovers could be.
He asked for her hand under the stars by a fire next to the sea.
They found a church, they chose the verse, planned a ceremony with the purpose
To honor their God and to be bestowed with the Sacrament of Service.
He found a ring. She sewed a dress. Preparations were underway.
But time crept in, and life got busy as they dealt with the mundane.
Funny named girl could not handle too well the stacks of problems on her plates.
Blond haired boy had his plate full too, still he tried to ease her weights.
Funny named girl did not look away from the plates that she had spinning,
And blond haired boy did not tell her of the battles he was not winning.
By Cheye Bieber
Claire sat upright in her chair in the library at her university. Her crystal blue eyes gazed dreamily on her boyfriend, Josh, who sat at the table next to her. Her full lips parted as she mouthed the words “I love you.”
The corners of Josh’s mouth rose as he gave her a slow wink. Josh ripped a piece of paper out of his notebook and started writing. He folded the paper twice and slid it onto Claire’s desk.
Claire blushed as she read the words written in Josh’s finest cursive. “My darling Claire, you have a special place in my heart. You will always be the most beautiful girl I have ever laid eyes on. I can’t believe I can call you my girlfriend. Happy anniversary! I have a surprise for you that should be arriving soon. I hope you like it.”
Just as Claire flashed an excited smile, there was a knock at the door. A short woman with gray curly hair came in carrying a big bouquet of a dozen or more red roses. “I have a delivery for, uh…” she paused to read the tag on the flowers. “Claire Gee-ovary?” This got the whole library’s attention. People started to look around to see who the flowers were for.
“Geoffrey,” Claire corrected politely as she rose from her desk and made her way toward the woman. She thanked her as she gingerly took the bouquet in her arms. She heard a few girls “awe” at the sight of the huge set of flowers. Claire and Josh beamed at each other as she made her way back to her seat. “Josh! Thank you! They’re lovely.” Claire’s eyes were shining.
“I have another surprise for you.” Josh took out a small envelope from his pocket.
Claire looked at the wrinkled paper of the envelope and could tell there was a small metal object in it. A flash of heat enveloped her, and her cheeks turned pink. “Josh,” she breathed as she took the envelope.
Josh noticed a tiny flash of disappointment on Claire’s face when she felt that it wasn’t a ring. He watched eagerly as she ripped the envelope open and pulled out a shiny, copper key. Josh grinned.
“Oh, my goodness. Are we moving in together?!” Claire hopped out of her seat and kissed Josh hard on the mouth.
Josh took Claire’s hand, kissed it, and whispered, “Look at the notes on the roses.”
By Cheye Bieber
“Vincent, a critic by the name of Joseph Isaacson has contacted me in regard to your paintings.”
“I already know the quality of my work, Theo. I do not need a critic to inform me of my shortcomings.”
“No, Vincent. He rather enjoys your paintings. He asked me to let him have certain pictures to keep in his home for a while, including the mountains and the wheat field.”
“Why would he want such a thing?”
“He says that he admires your use of form and color and that your paintings exude immense life.”
“Nonsense. My paintings are nothing of the sort.”
“You mustn’t regard your work so poorly, Vincent.”
“I believe they are poor quality, as do the critics.”
“But Vincent, you must listen to me. Joseph wants to write about your paintings in the Dutch papers. He is publishing a series of articles about young artists and would like to feature you. He truly thinks you are magnificent. Here, look at the letter he wrote me.”
He allows us to perceive, once again, that tangible, wildly rushing, pulsing life that shakes us down to our bones. He is a unique pioneer. He stands alone to struggle in the great night. His name, Vincent, is for posterity.
“Why, Vincent, this is a very good review.”
My paintings will never amount to anything. They are not actually good. Terrible. I painted them. I do not create good paintings. They will never be good enough. Revolting. I will never be good enough. I am going to live the rest of my life being a failure. Discontent. I’m never going to be happy. Even if I do make something of myself, I still will not be happy. I will never feel pride. Failure. No one will ever feel pride for me. My family is embarrassed of me. Die. I am a burden to them. Wretched. Their lives would be better if I did not exist. I hate my life. I hate myself.
“Vincent, what are you thinking?”
By Cheye Bieber, nee Hibbing
January 25, 2021
Survivor’s guilt. Learning to walk again.
By Cheye Bieber
His nose does not twitch
To smell the flowers laid next to him.
His long ears do not perk
At the sound of my sobs.
His coat, like silk, is in the ground –
Black fur melting into black earth.
His eyes, that once held the constellations in their depth,
Are now glazed over.
While mine blur from tears.
Resting, are his sprinter’s legs
In his final burrow,
That took all my strength to dig.
There he lays,
In the cold dirt –
A mismatched home for the warmth of his curiosity.
My retired Easter bunny –
In the ground to live,
Giving life to tree roots,
Like he has given life to me.
Cheye Bieber • 12 Answers
- Favorite sport or physical activity: Dancing
- Place you would most like to visit: Rome to see the Vatican, Paris to see the Louvre, or Sydney again
- Most exciting thing you’ve ever done: Get married ♥️
- Three things you would do if you won a $1 billion lottery: 1) Shed many tears of joy and disbelief 2) Buy a home 3) Hire a finance person to make sure I don’t go bankrupt
- Best book or movie you’ve read or seen lately: I just fished the Harry Potter books—J. K. Rowling is such an intelligent writer; I think it so genius how the plots, concepts, and Harry got to grow up with the reader 🤯; also How to Write a Script in 30 Days by Ken Davenport; there’s a lot of valuable stuff in that book
- Time period you would explore if you could time travel: Probably the 1950s—I like the fashion
- One thing you most want to accomplish in life: Win a Tony Award
- Your national bird if you were your own country: A pigeon—those street-chickens are cute!
- What you listen to while driving, e.g., music, news, talk shows: I have a really big Broadway musicals playlist; I like to listen to books (just finished Harry Potter, that took up a lot of time (it was definitely worth it though); I also really like the podcast, Beach Too Sandy, Water Too Wet; it’s a podcast where these two siblings read hilariously bad reviews on the internet
- Person you would most like to meet: Tim Minchin or Jesus—or both at the same time; I would love to hear their conversation
- Skill you would most like to learn and master: Playing the piano
- Most important issue or problem facing humankind: People are too extreme, and they identify more with what they are against, as opposed to identifying what they are for; instead of being pro-something, their anti-something; we need to switch our passions to things we love instead of things we hate
Learn more about the Theatre Transfer Pathway A.F.A. at Inver Hills by contacting:
George M. Roesler
Theatre and Communication Studies Faculty
Inver Hills Community College
Inver Hills Community College
More about the Theatre department at Inver Hills…
The Theatre department at Inver Hills is on a mission. As a student in our program, you will learn we are driven to instill in you a lifelong appreciation for the theatre arts and film studies. Our curriculum will encourage you to develop your performance skills and capabilities.
Stella Adler, the renowned acting teacher, once said: “The theatre is a spiritual and social X-ray of its time. The theatre was created to tell people the truth about life and the social situation.”
Why Study Theatre at Inver Hills?
Take your theatrical skills to the next stage.
The Transfer Pathway A.F.A. in Theatre offers you the powerful opportunity to complete your associate degree and then transfer with junior-year status to a Minnesota State university to pursue a baccalaureate degree in the theatre arts.
Confirm theory through practice.
Our Theatre department offers a wide variety of courses, both practical and theoretical, that will give you the experience and knowledge you need to harness your talent. You can begin by taking introductory film, cinema, and theatre courses that teach you how to view and analyze performances. You can follow through by taking practicum courses that provide hands-on learning in essential theatrical areas.
Spark your magic by acting in college plays.
Inver Hills features two venues ideally suited for live theatrical performances, the 300-seat Inver Hills Theatre and the more intimate Black Box Theatre. The former features three plays a year, including a children’s play in April for elementary school students. Our theatre students have worked on and performed in numerous college productions from Dracula to Jesus Christ Superstar to Aladdin to Dorothy and the Wizard of Oz to Sylvia.
Our faculty live and breathe theatre.
The instructors in our Theatre department bring strong academic credentials and professional experience to their curriculums. Many work on Twin Cities theatrical productions, directing and performing live. The theatrical world is the engine of their lives.
Join a community that lasts a lifetime.
Theatre at Inver Hills provides opportunities for both beginners and old hands, including the chance to participate in student-directed productions through Theatre Club. The sense of a shared purpose gives our department an exciting, interconnected atmosphere. Former students have gone on to become respected professional actors, designers, and theatrical managers in the Twin Cities metro area theatre community.
Theatre tells you how it is.
Indeed Career Guide offers this advice: “If you love the stage and majored in theatre, there are many jobs in the theatre industry you can pursue. Understanding where you can work and what you can do with your theatre degree can help you determine the best career path for your interests.”
Theatre arts date back more than 2,500 years to the city-state of Athens in ancient Greece.
Modern theatre in the English-speaking world is exemplified by Broadway, which features 40 professional theatres with 500 seats or more. Dozens and dozens of theatre companies across the U.S. produce plays of all kinds, including dramas, tragedies, musicals, comedies, and improv.
Theatre majors obtain a remarkable range of communication, organizational, people, problem-solving, and critical-thinking skills that apply to numerous careers beyond the performing arts.
Some occupations you could consider are attorney, program officer, researcher, policy analyst, advocate, and social services professional.