Campus Celebrity: Ríoghnach Robinson '16

Name: Ciara Ríoghnach “Rio” Robinson

Year: Senior, 2016

Hometown: Winston-Salem, NC

Major: Economics

Activities: The Owl Creeks, Colla Voce, Chamber Singers, and Motown

Hi Rio! I’ve just arrived on campus, but from what I’ve heard, you’re well-known for your work with Kenyon’s various a capella groups. How did you first get involved in the music scene?

I actually did a capella in high school for three years. When I arrived on campus, I just did the usual Freshman thing where I kinda auditioned for everyone. I still remember that callbacks were super scary. Before college, singing was never as much a part of my life as it is now, but I’m not displeased with the development. That sounds lukewarm, but it’s also a big time commitment on my part.


If you didn’t picture yourself as a musician, in what did you intend to get involved as a high school student coming into Kenyon?

I thought I might write for The Collegian or The Thrill but that just didn’t happen because  I spent a lot of time writing my own stuff.


What’s the most embarrassing moment you’ve had on stage?

I had a really scarring moment when I was six years old. We were doing a very serious, dramatic musical about a man named Herb the Gardener, whose garden was being torn between warring factions of weeds and flowers. I played Herb, and in front of my entire elementary school, I forgot the second half of my rhyme. It started with: “My name is Herb the Gardener, the “H” is silent ya know,” and then it was, “something something something, and help the garden grow.” I forgot the second half and will never forget that moment. The end. What a disaster.


If you could choose three characters from Pitch Perfect to form a team with and compete with you at the ICCA, who would you choose and why?

I remember the quiet, stereotypical, Asian, kick-ass beat boxer and that’s about it. Anna Kendrick is super cool too. I can’t remember a third so I’m just gonna say an Owl Creek alumna, Ally Schmaling. And that would be the team!


If you were in charge of the Riff-Off, what category would you pick for other groups to sing?

Opera. It would be impossible and they would all fail and it would be hilarious! Not trying to be an asshole, but it would be super funny.


If you had to compete in that category, which of your a cappella groups would you pick to back you up and why?

The Creeks because we practice a lot so we’re pretty used to each other’s voices.


What’s one thing you’ve always wanted to incorporate into a performance that you’ve never had the opportunity to try?

We do a pretty broad variety of different styles of music. For example, there have been rap sections in the Owl Creeks. The only thing really missing is choreography, but I’m not a huge fan of that, so I could either take it or leave it. I guess dudes because all my groups are women. Having bass voices would be fun.


Along the topic of externalizing your own ideas, the Kenyon community is eagerly awaiting details of “Seven Ways We Lie,” your recently published novel. Could you provide an overview of the plot?

It’s actually been written for a while, and I have a copy in my bag but it won’t be officially released until March. It’s the story of seven high school juniors, one for each of the seven deadly sins. It’s narrated from each of their perspectives. It’s a novel about how each is forced to confront their central flaw due to one of the narrator’s elicit relationships.


What were some of your inspirations, both in terms of people you know and literary works, while you were writing this book?

There was definitely not one thing that was a particular source of inspiration, but I liked the idea of the seven sins as a framing narrative and how each flaw offers the opportunity for morally grey characters. I’m not interested in hard-core good people.


What is the worst mispronunciation you have ever received for your name?

Oh, this is great! In the fourth grade, a lady from elementary school called me into the office and said over the intercom, “Hello, can I please call Rozhnozh into the office”? Also, a little known fact is that my first name is Ciara; I got a letter in the mail last year addressed to Ciara Riog Robinson, just those four letters of Ríoghnach and that was all. F for effort.


What are some strange nicknames you’ve acquired over your Kenyon career?

They tend to carry over, so they are mostly ones I’ve had in high school. Some people still call me Rozhnozh from the story I just told you, or Rognagog. I also get Ragnarok, which is the Viking version of Armageddon, the end of the world. Most people just stick with Rio. At this point people could just point and grunt and I’d probably respond.


What are your plans for after graduation?

Ideally, I would like to write fiction full time, which is basically the equivalent of saying that I want to ride a unicorn into space and find a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow. All I really want to do is write books. I’ve considered moving to a city, any city, and working in a book store. I could keep my finger on the publishing world and hopefully, if my book does well, I’ll have a career.


How does it feel graduating as a senior and knowing that you are not starting again somewhere else as a Freshman?

But I am.


Oh, are you going to grad school?

No, but I’ll be a Freshman in the real world. The learning curve is steep. There are no cushy CA meetings and no giant dining halls full of people who want to be friends with you, but I get to make my own meal plan and pick my own housing, so there are a lot of options.


And there you have it! Thanks Ríoghnach “Rozhnozh” Robinson for the wonderful interview. Her Campus Kenyon wishes you good luck out there in the real world, and we can’t wait to read “Seven Ways We Lie,” when it comes out in March!