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Growing up in the Virgin Islands, Luben Daniel listened to his parents’ CDs of calypso, reggae, soul, gospel, and rhythm and blues. “Early on,” he said, “I knew what good music sounded like.”
Turns out he also knew how to make good music. Taking up the clarinet in fourth grade, he became first chair and section leader in his high school band. He also joined a steel band—a group of musicians who play steel pans tuned to various pitches.
“Steel band is our thing,” Luben said. “It represents all things Caribbean.”
His clarinet and steel-band gigs took him on melodious journeys to venues as far away as Argentina and the United States. Though performing resonated with him, Luben decided his musical future lay in teaching.
“It wasn’t a popular decision,” he said. “People told me, ‘With your talent, you could play in a big-time orchestra for big-time money.’ But without a school music program, I wouldn’t have discovered the fulfillment music brings. As a teacher, I could introduce that joy to others.” Luben set his sights on the music education program at IC. “A friend went there, and his musicianship skyrocketed. I wanted that.”
Luben traveled 1,600 miles to IC to focus on the clarinet but was surprised to find a slice of home on campus in the School of Music’s steel band. “I never expected to find one in Ithaca,” he said. “For my senior recital, I composed a work for the ensemble. The rehearsals were a joy for us all.
Something else unexpected happened his senior year. A teacher from his high school called. The band director was retiring. Would Luben be interested in the position?
“Going back home and teaching was all I’d ever wanted,” Luben said. “I never thought it would happen that quickly, because it’s rare for new graduates to find teaching positions at their high school alma maters.”
But Luben wasn’t scheduled to graduate in time to take the offer.
“Luben told me that spring that he’d just been offered his dream job and wondered what we could do to help him complete his degree earlier than he’d planned,” said Keith Kaiser, chair of music education. “A lot of people worked hard to make that happen—including Luben. He’s now back home, improving music education in the Virgin Islands.”
“Ithaca College redefined my comfort zone,” Luben said. “I discovered my strengths and weaknesses and how to confront them. Now I’ll be sharing how that growth process works with my students.”
>> More on this story: IC Steel Band
As the saying goes, it’s not just what you know, but who you know that matters. Matt Palmaccio leveraged the marketing skills and professional connections he made at Ithaca College to get his career off to a flying start.
As a student, Matt built his confidence and real-world marketing knowledge through his coursework, group projects involving local businesses, and as a recruiter for the College’s chapter of the American Marketing Association.
“Those experiences gave me a professional demeanor, as well as the working knowledge of marketing and advertising that I needed to successfully interview for jobs,” he says.
The path to his current position at Details began when he attended a career fair as a senior in the School of Business. He stayed in touch with a recruiter he met from a media planning company in New York City and was called for an interview when he was about to graduate.
Matt got the job and worked for a pharmaceutical company on media planning, which included choosing the magazines the company advertised in. Marketing was his real passion, and he found himself drawn to the magazine industry, especially when a coworker went to work at publisher Conde Nast, which produces Details.
“We got together for lunch because I wanted to find out what he was doing there,” Matt says, and the lunch conversation piqued his interest even more. “That’s how I ended up switching over to the marketing side of magazines.”
Matt was hired at Conde Nast, transitioned to Hearst, and was then drawn back to Conde. “The interesting thing about magazines is that, in New York, it’s kind of a small world once you’ve worked in it,” he notes. “So when a job opened back up at Conde Nast, the human resources person called and said, ‘There’s an opening at Details I think you would be really good for.’”
Matt credits the networking skills he learned and relationships he made through the School of Business with kick-starting his career. “Obviously, Ithaca is kind of far from New York City, but they have established great connections to different places.”
>> More on this story: Business Administration: Marketing Concentration
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