YAKIMA, Wash. -- Tanya Knickerbocker, 45, was born in Prairie Du Chien, a small town in Wisconsin. In 2002, she graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a degree in chemistry before going on to Harvard for graduate school.

Tanya came to Yakima about eight years ago. She teaches chemistry at Yakima Valley College and works as an agent with John L. Scott Real Estate.

These are a few of her favorite things:

1. Yakima Symphony Orchestra

“I remember the first time I saw an orchestra,” Tanya said. It was while she was living in the southwest corner of Wisconsin, in a town of only about 5,000 people. The biggest “cities” — none of them very large — were about an hour away in any direction, so Tanya was elated when the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra stopped by during its tour.

“They came out and played in the gym at one of the schools there,” Tanya said. “That was my first live symphony and I’ve just loved it ever since.”

Arriving in Yakima to find out the local symphony orchestra is a great one was something that made her very happy.

She sings with the symphony chorus, serves on the symphony’s board and says she does everything she can to support them.

Check out www.ysomusic.org for more information on the Yakima Symphony Orchestra.

2. Small cities, especially Yakima

“You get all the opportunities in Yakima that you can get in a large city except you get easy access to them,” Tanya explained. “I can go to the symphony and I can afford the tickets. I can be on the board and I can afford to donate.”

And for Tanya, there’s even more to love about living here.

“What I like about Yakima is the ability to do all the things,” she said. “There’s wine tasting, beer, art, music — anything you want to do is available here.”

3. Her classroom

When teaching at Harvard, Tanya said she couldn’t always tell when she was making a difference in the lives of students. Teaching at Yakima Valley College is different. She has a student who was an auto mechanic, now working toward a doctorate in material science. Another was an apple picker who now is an optometrist.

“I feel like some of those people wouldn’t do those things without really good teaching,” she said. “The quality of teaching at a school like YVC in a place like Yakima makes way more difference.”

Making material more accessible and showing students they can do anything they put their minds to is one of her favorite things. And she uses a variety of technologies to make that happen.

Check out www.yvcc.edu for more information on everything the school has to offer.

4. Her piano

Along with the Mid-Columbia Mastersingers, Tanya also sings with a Victorian Christmas quartet, and her piano comes in handy when making all that music.

“I need it to learn my parts and I play a little bit,” she said.

Tanya has a baby grand she purchased after seeing an ad on Craigslist.

“It was $750, but it was in Tri-Cities and it cost $800 to move, but I still got a baby grand for $1,500,” she laughed. “I love my piano.”

5. Her “sippy cup” from The Capitol Theatre

“I love my sippy cup from The Capitol Theatre,” she said. “It’s the one that lets me have wine in the middle of a concert.”

Over a period of time, Tanya’s accumulated several. And she notes all her friends have them as well, and most everyone calls the cups the same thing.

“That’s very Yakima,” she said.

Go to www.capitoltheatre.org for information on upcoming events.

Desk phone: (509) 759-7853