Ithaca College Will Make You Ready
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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
Meghan Swope understands the importance of a quality education. As an account assistant in the education division of strategic communications firm GMMB, Meghan works with a number of nonprofits to help kids get a great education, regardless of their background or zip code.
“The issues facing education today have a ripple effect on some of society’s other issues,” Meghan says. “The foundations we work for are trying to ensure that everyone graduates from high school with the skills that they need for college or a career.”
Meghan’s education led her to the Roy H. Park School of Communications at Ithaca College, where she majored in communication management and design. As a Park scholar, Meghan got not only a full scholarship but also an open door to a world of opportunity in communications and community service. She chatted one-on-one with Christiane Amanpour when the CNN anchor visited IC as part of the Park Distinguished Visitor Series. She studied abroad in Australia. She used IC’s industry connections to land multiple internships—as part of IC’s Los Angeles program she interned in the publicity department of Fox Broadcasting and the production department of the Ellen DeGeneres Show, and during her senior year she interned at PR firm Fleishman-Hillard. All this gave Meghan a powerful edge over the competition when she moved to D.C. after graduation.
“In a city like D.C., there are so many young people vying for one job. I had almost a full year of internship experience at graduation. I think that put me ahead of the game for sure,” Meghan recalls. “At GMMB, I’ve been told that my skills are beyond what they’re used to. When you [are hired at] a public relations agency, there’s an expectation that they’ll have to teach you how to write a press release and use industry tools. Because of IC, I came in already prepared for that.”
The IC experience also ignited Meghan’s passion for supporting important issues and causes. She participated in Relay for Life, Colleges Against Cancer, and Students Taking Action Now: Darfur (STAND). At GMMB, she combines her drive to help others with her communication skills by planning events and developing messaging to grow public awareness of her clients’ missions.
“I want to keep making a difference for my clients and in my own life. I think that’s how the world changes—with optimistic people who are passionate about the work they do, who are motivated and feel like they have the support they need to achieve change.”
>> More on this story: Park Scholar Program
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