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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
For Kristen Barry, working in Hollywood is not just a day at the beach. Sometimes it’s a morning on the mountain or a night at the skate park. No matter where she is, she’s always in on the action.
As a sports broadcast producer at Transition, Kristen creates webcasts and broadcasts of surf events, working on location and behind the scenes to produce short features. When she’s not on the beach, Kristen is working as ESPN’s Winter and Summer X Games talent coordinator. “I work with agents and publicists and sometimes go right to the athletes to try to get them to come on X Center,” Kristen says.
For Kristen, making her way in broadcasting was all about finding the right path and the right people. She found both as an undergraduate at Ithaca College, where she got the opportunity to intern at E! and Style Network. “There was this huge database of internships that IC already had contact with, so it cut through a lot of red tape.”
Kristen’s internship experiences made two things clear to her: she belonged in broadcasting, and she wanted to move to L.A. after graduation. Hollywood is a tough place for a recent grad to start a career, but Kristen faced it with confidence. “I left New York with a good deal of knowledge in editing, writing, and advertising—all areas that helped me build a great foundation. Within about a month of graduating, I had lined up my first production assistant position.”
From there, Kristen built a successful freelance career, doing production work on reality television, documentaries, and live events. Now, she has found her creative home in sports broadcasting, working action-packed events every day. “I was very lucky to combine my passion for action sports with my background in live television.”
>> More on this story: Park School of Communications internships
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