Skip to main content


"I chose NKU because the second I stepped on campus, I immediately felt I was a part of something greater than myself. There is such a strong sense of camaraderie that echoes through the campus, and it is so unbelievably refreshing."

By Jayna Morris | Photography by Scott Beseler | Published June 2020
Makenzie Ruff

HOMETOWN: Cincinnati, Ohio
MAJORS: Musical Theatre & Biological Sciences

Tell me about life pre-NKU. Where did you grow up?
I grew up In Cincinnati, Ohio, on the West Side. I went to Catholic School for 12 years and attended Seton High School.

Why did you choose NKU? What kept you here?

I chose NKU because the second I stepped on campus, I immediately felt I was a part of something greater than myself. There is such a strong sense of camaraderie that echoes through the campus and it is so unbelievably refreshing. The supportive environment is what kept me at NKU. No one wants to see you fail, and students and faculty will go to the utmost extent to ensure that you succeed in whatever your career choice is. 

Can you tell me a little about what you're studying?
I am studying Musical Theatre and Biology because my dream is to become a vocal speech pathologist and attend graduate school for communication disorders. I have always been extremely passionate about the performance aspect of the arts as well as helping people. This career path provided the best of both of these worlds for me. Since starting off my freshman year at NKU, my timeline for my career path has definitely shifted. NKU ignited an even greater flame for the performer in me, and I am planning to start off my career in the performance aspect of musical theatre before coming back to school for my graduate program.

Describe NKU in one word.

What’s your favorite class?
I would have to say that my favorite class is Senior Seminar. The class is designed to create a showcase for all the senior Musical Theatre majors utilizing each of our individual strengths in a performance setting. The reason I enjoy the class so much is it has given me an opportunity to perform once again with the entirety of my class. The last time we all performed together was our first semester of freshman year, so it is an incredible experience to see how far each one of us have developed over the course of four years and celebrating those successes.

Where is your favorite spot on campus? What makes that spot so special?
My favorite spot on campus has to be the balcony outside on the top floor of the Health Innovation Center. It has the absolute greatest view of the entire campus, and it is a wonderful place to gather with friends or simply think and reflect.

Where’s the best place to study on campus?
My favorite place to study on campus is the second floor of the Steely Library back where the larger tables are. It is a perfect place for group studying, projects or studying on your own because you’re able to fully spread out all of your materials.

What is your greatest passion?
Inspiring others.

What’s a favorite NKU memory you’ll never forget?
My favorite NKU memory thus far has to be when my sorority, Delta Zeta, won the Greek Airbands competition with the fraternity Sigma Phi Epsilon. It was life changing for me because the theme was centered around musicals, and I felt that I was able to contribute to the success of the group. Everyone was so supportive of any and all ideas and having the opportunity to be onstage with all of my greatest friends is easily the best feeling in the world.

What is your favorite way to spend your free time?
My favorite way to spend my free time is to hang out with my family and friends. I particularly love showing off my impeccable cornhole skills, as I am an unbeatable champion.

Who’s your favorite professor (or staff member)? Why?

This is a really difficult question for me to answer because there have been so many professors who have made a lasting impact on me. Although, if I had to choose one, I would choose the professor who pushed me to do something I never thought I was even capable of doing: dancing. Tracey Bonner, the head of the dance department, has an intuitive element about her that allows her to accept and understand every type of individual. She truly cares about not only the success of the artist but also the development of the human. She relays her performance experiences and obstacles to her students to allow insight and understanding regarding the field. She pushes each and every one of her students to force them to reach their absolute full potential. Without Tracey, I would not be nearly as determined to dive headfirst into each and every project I am a part of. She has ignited a flame inside of me, and for that I am eternally grateful.

What advice would you give to a first-year student?
Just do it. Whatever you are questioning about, whether this relates to your major or getting involved on campus, simply do it. I promise you will not regret it.

Have you had any memorable internships or co-op experiences?
I recently received a scholarship through the theatre department at NKU for the upcoming fall and spring semester. I will be a teacher’s assistant at Uptown Arts aiding in subjects related to the arts: creative writing, dance, acting, painting, etc. I am extremely excited to have the opportunity to teach and develop our future artists.

What are you most looking forward to after graduation?
I am most looking forward to truly “spreading my wings” and delving into the real-world setting. I think the best way to learn about life experiences is to experience them yourself.

What kind of job would you like to have after you graduate?
My dream job is to be performing on Broadway. After graduation, I would love to land a touring production or even a cruise ship to have the opportunity to not only perform but to experience and learn about different cultures and environments and how they vary from city to city.

What does getting your degree mean to you?
Getting my degree instills a sense of achievement and success in me due to achieving a degree from a highly competitive program. I also believe getting my degree gives me an understanding of what it truly means to fully commit yourself to something that will not only better you as an individual but will aid in improving the world around us no matter what you are pursuing.

Tell me anything else about yourself and/or NKU that you want folks to know.
I think every NKU student needs to attend either a sporting event or a performance. NKU is overflowing with talent, and there are numerous opportunities to celebrate that talent.