Caldwell, N.J., April 9, 2015 – Caldwell University alumni joined music faculty and current students for an evening of performance and networking in the Alumni Theatre on March 31. Organized by Professor Rebecca Vega, the event provided an opportunity for current students to hear about alumni experiences after college in the professional fields of music, education, and business. The event opened with a reception followed by a performance by Professor Nan Childress-Orchard and Conner Romanowsky ’09 of a piano four hands arrangement of Malagueña by Ernesto Lecuona and En Bateau by Claude Debussy .
The alumni then participated in a panel discussion in which they were asked to tell students about themselves, what they are doing now, and what advice they would like to share with the students.
“Don’t be afraid to take advantage of the opportunities that come to you,” Brian Singer ’13 told the students. “You never know when those opportunities are going to lead to your next job or give you a skill you’ll need down the road.” Currently employed at Sam Ash Music, Brian uses what he learned at Caldwell to help him guide customers to appropriate purchases while he hones his skills fixing instruments. While still seeking work as a music teacher, his current position has allowed him to make connections he is sure will lead him to a job in the future.
Cara Pernas ’10, a music teacher in Jersey City, told the students that Caldwell helped her find a passion for music. “Without Caldwell and Dr. Greenwald, I wouldn’t have the strength I have as a musician and a teacher.”
Alumni also offered practical advice for students going into education. “Get to know the administration in your district,” Pernas told them. “There are many obstacles out there.”
Singer told students to keep all of their course materials. “You’ll go back to it,” he said, with nods of agreement from other educators on the panel.
Vincent Peri ‘11, who attended Caldwell for a second bachelor’s degree after being laid off from a high level position, described how Caldwell helped him become an elementary music teacher, his true passion. Following a “bittersweet” and lucrative career in the music industry, Peri returned to school to study music education. “[The faculty] rebuilt me as a professional,” he said. In terms of advice for students, he told them to “start building work experience now…. Humble yourself and take what you can get. It’s competitive out there, so with any opportunity you have, always treat it like you might get a full time job there. And music ed [sic] majors, practice your piano!”
Christopher Logan ’12, was a music and business major at Caldwell. Now a wealth management specialist at Merrill Lynch, Logan told the students, “Music is my life, but it wasn’t meant to be my job.” He then went on to explain how his degree in music helps him daily. “I approach every presentation like a composition,” he says. “I learned that from the faculty here, so take what they have to say and run with it.”