There is no questioning Christine Yerkes' devotion to William Shakespeare. A framed poster of a recent Hamlet production hangs prominently on the wall in her office, while a miniature model of the Globe Theatre—built by Yerkes—sits on a shelf.
"I've been to London five times, and I just love the history of Shakespeare," says Yerkes, pointing out the details of the Globe. "When I saw that the Hamlet production was happening in London with Jude Law this year, I immediately bought tickets."
But just five minutes later, the College registrar and associate director of institutional research speaks with the same passion about quite another genre of entertainment.
"I love Metallica, love them, love them, love them. I got into them back when they were in their big-hair band days. I went to see them twice this past winter."
Working at a liberal arts college might be the perfect job for Yerkes, a woman of diverse passions and interests. When she's not jetting to London's theatre district or the latest Metallica tour stop, she might be practicing tae kwon do or serving as an advocate for the Domestic Violence Services of Lancaster County.
But Yerkes spends most of her time in Diagnothian Hall, working closely with students and faculty in her multifaceted professional role. She was recently selected as a fellow for the 2009 Association of Institutional Research and the National Center for Education Statistics Fellowship program in Institutional Research.
"I'm the luckiest person in the world," she says. "The people I work with are fantastic. I love being the hub of the wheel. Working for something you believe in is really special."
Education is so important to Yerkes that she gained her M.A. in English from Millersville University while working full time at Franklin & Marshall, first in the Office of Admission and then the registrar's office. "Looking back, I have no idea how I did it," she says. "Graduation day was very meaningful."
Tae kwon do helps to keep Yerkes grounded during stressful times. Her interest in the martial arts began after she watched the Karate Kid movies in the 1980s. She is now a third-degree black belt.
"It's my greatest accomplishment, something I never imagined," she says. "It is about 70 percent mental and 30 percent in your body. Tae kwon do is a defensive art, and teaches you to be restrained yet confident. So whenever something goes wrong, I'm able to look at it calmly."
Yerkes uses her calming influence to comfort people at the domestic violence shelter, where she helped author Women of Courage: Profiles of Domestic Violence Survivors along with Kerry Sherin Wright, director of the Philadelphia Alumni Writers House, and Judy Pehrson, director of the Alice Drum Women's Center. "You often can't solve a person's problem, but you can let them know they have options and choices," she says. "They are valuable people with amazing strength. It is so rewarding."
Several times each year, Yerkes also feels rewarded when she receives notes from students about how much she helped them.
"One particular student had some normal beginning-of-the-semester problems with classes a few years ago," Yerkes recalls. "I see her often, and when I think of the things she's done since then, it makes me proud. It's that kind of thing that makes me feel good, and it's what keeps me going."
But for now, the next Metallica show keeps Yerkes going. She will see the group in Madison Square Garden in November, then fly to Las Vegas for a show in December with fellow Metallica fan Tammy Moyer, administrative assistant in facilities and operations.
What about seeing Metallica in London, then heading to a Shakespeare production across the street?
"That," she says, "would be perfect."