Kansas City woman’s experience on “Survivor” leads to adventures in auctioneering

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (April 23, 2013) — How did Yve Rojas, homemaker and mother of two, cope with turning the big 4-0? She embarked on an adventure, creating a minute-long audition tape for the hit reality TV show, “Survivor: Nicaragua.” Incredibly, Rojas was chosen as one of 20 to brave the conditions — and contestants — of the competitive reality series.

When the “tribe had spoken” and “Survivor” ended for Rojas in 2010, an unexpected door opened in the Kansas City woman’s life: auctioneering. On June 1, she will be the auctioneer for the live auction portion of the Kansas City Art Institute’s 2013 Art and Design Auction, a fundraiser for scholarships to the college.

Rojas broke into the world of auctioneering two years ago when she was invited to judge at a live cake exposition, benefiting a Kansas City women’s shelter.

“When local news anchor Keith King started auctioning off cupcakes at the event I had the mic in hand and I asked him if I could give it a try. It felt like I was performing, and it was fun! It was me,” Rojas said.

Though Rojas admits she never dreamed of becoming an auctioneer before that day, this experience was all she needed. The tenacious spirit that made her a sure-fit for “Survivor” sent her on a new endeavor¬ — to the World Wide College of Auctioneering, which is based in Mason City, Iowa.

“I learned to stop hesitating. I hesitated on ‘Survivor,’ but now I just go for it,” Rojas said. “I learned to be more fearless. That’s why I went to auctioneer college. I thought, ‘If I’m going to pursue this, I’m going to do it right.’”

She graduated in the fall of 2011, armed with a diploma in auctioneering and a secondary diploma in bilingual auctioneering, and has since been pursuing a Benefit Auctioneer Specialist designation.

Rojas auction-chants, or “cattle rattles,” with the best of them, but she often surprises spectators.

“Most people think I’m the clerk when I show up at an auction,” Rojas said. “It’s such an untraditional job for a woman, No. 1, and a Latina, No. 2. Everybody has such a preconceived notion of what an auctioneer looks like: western, fast-talker, with a handlebar moustache. I’m definitely not that! It’s a traditional industry, but very welcoming and incredibly supportive.”

–more– Rojas grew up with a strong mother who taught her the power of adaptability and going for what you want, even if that means taking on a male-dominated profession.

“My mother was the second female official court reporter in the state of Minnesota,” Rojas said. “She taught me resilience as a girl: When you fail, you’ve got to get up. When you trip, don’t sit there and wait for someone to reach their hand out.”

Auctioneering has allowed Rojas to follow her passion for charity work and appreciation of art. On June 1, she will combine these interests at the KCAI auction.

"We are excited for Yve to help us auction the incredible art of the KCAI faculty and staff,” said Mary Wetzel, auction co-chair. “Her fun, unique style and vivacious energy are sure to help us raise much-needed funds for Kansas City Art Institute student scholarships. The event is shaping up to be a memorable night!"

KCAI auction festivities begin at 6 p.m., and the live auction, where Rojas will take center stage, runs from 9:05 p.m. to 10:05 p.m. Auction proceeds benefit the school’s scholarship fund.

“I’m excited and proud to be a part of the Kansas City Art Institute auction,” Rojas said. “It’s great to be put in the position of helping celebrate these students and artists who have such talent.”

Later this month, Rojas will take her skills to wine country, serving as the auctioneer for the Orange County Wine Society on April 27 in Costa Mesa, Calif.

About Kansas City Art Institute

The Kansas City Art Institute is a private, independent four-year college of art and design awarding the Bachelor of Fine Arts degree with majors in animation, art history, ceramics, digital filmmaking, digital media, fiber, graphic design, illustration, painting, photography, printmaking, sculpture and studio art with an emphasis on creative writing. The college also offers certificate programs in Community Arts and Service Learning and in Asian Studies for students enrolled in the B.F.A. program. KCAI hosts “Current Perspectives,” a free public lecture series; free exhibitions at the H&R Block Artspace gallery; and evening, weekend and summer classes in art, design and multimedia studies for children, youth and adults through the School for Continuing and Professional Studies. Founded in 1885, KCAI is Kansas City’s oldest arts organization. For more information, visit KCAI on the Web at www.kcai.edu.

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