There is an old joke that goes, “How do you get to Carnegie Hall? Practice, practice, practice.”
In the case of Kaylee Vance Wise ’13, the decision to apply landed her the chance of a lifetime to serve as the Manager, Email Marketing and Strategy for the world-renowned Carnegie Hall.
While she isn’t acting in her new role, this opportunity did not come without years of experience under the stage lights. Kaylee, a Texarkana native, is no stranger to performing, as a dancer since age 4. When she arrived at Southern Arkansas University to study theater in 2010, little did she know where her passion would lead her – starting with love.
Wise attended a freshmen Baptist Collegiate Ministry (BCM) event and met Matthew Wise ’13. The pair continued to cross paths and were officially introduced weeks later. Matthew recounts, “I first fell in love with Kaylee while acting in Royal Gambit. I was Henry the VIII and she was Anne Boleyn.” A photograph of the couple from the performance still adorns the Overstreet hallway that connects the historic building to Harton Theatre.
The couple shared many special moments in Mulerider Country. Matthew recaps arguably the most impactful event for the lovebirds, “I woke up knowing that I was going to propose to Kaylee that night, and it was going to be a very long day. We had our Fall Preview Day at SAU so I was giving tours to potential students most of the day.” Meanwhile, Kaylee was competing in the Miss SAU Pageant that same evening. Between tours and helping Kaylee prepare for the pageant, Matthew snuck away to decorate the spot he would soon propose.
After the pageant, Kaylee went on a scavenger hunt, taking her to many meaningful places across campus. Friends and family awaited each spot with jewelry and the next clue. The hunt ended with tears of joy and one big “yes” at SAU’s Greek Theater.
Matthew and Kaylee graduated from SAU in 2013 and married in November 2014. In May 2021, the couple packed their belongings and started a new adventure in New York City after Matthew began a new job as Pastor of Families and Assimilation at The Journey Church NYC. Shortly after, Kaylee began her new role at Carnegie Hall. “For so much of my life, I was unsure where my passions
would lead me. I knew I loved the arts, but I didn’t want to pursue a career in the spotlight. My time at SAU helped me find my sweet spot in marketing for the arts. To have found a path that allows me to further the careers of talented artists and help share their gifts with the world is deeply rewarding for me,” Kaylee remarks.
In the coming year, more Muleriders will visit Carnegie Hall. Dr. Justin Nelson, director of choral activities, was invited to conduct a choir of 100 singers, a professional orchestra, and soloists at Carnegie Hall in spring 2023. The SAU Chamber Singers will join this group made up of high school and university choirs from across the country. Kaylee says she would love the opportunity to speak with them while they’re visiting. “We have several incredibly talented musicians on staff, as you can imagine. I’d love to talk with them about the business side of the arts.”
Many might imagine this would be a tough act to follow for the Wises, but Kaylee and Matthew welcomed another exciting adventure in February 2022 – a future Mulerider! The dynamic duo looks forward to navigating their new, exciting journey in Manhattan as a family of three. Kaylee and Matthew, from your Mulerider Family, “break a leg!”