For me, William and Mary has been especially rewarding not because of the things I have accomplished in the classroom, but rather the activities I’ve pursued outside of the classroom. I never would have imagined that a college could offer so many opportunities for students to pursue, get involved, and gain real live experience with what they’re interested in. With over 400 student clubs and organizations, I think W&M excels at providing these opportunities for their students. And because of one organization in particular, I am about to fulfill a dream.
Before I continue I must say that I love music. I am always listening to music. It is my coffee in the morning and my lullaby at night. It is an integral part of my well-balanced diet. It is one of my best friends. It is the aural wallpaper to my bedroom. My favorite band of all time is the Roots. I’ve seen them ten times in concert and used to write for their website. I think their use of live instrumentation was one of the pioneering moves that is currently bringing rock and hip-hop closer and closer together today. I think they do a great job of emphasizing the element of jazz that are inherent to hip-hop music (but are often lost in the mass produced, formulaic, hip-hop inflected pop music you hear today). I admire their showmanship and believe that every other band should look up to them when it comes to live performance. I think you get the point…
My story starts at Freshman Orientation. I asked my Orientation Aide, “so, who decides what artists come to play concerts here?” He replied, “that would be UCAB, they have a specific committee for all different sorts of events. For example, there’s a Comedy committee that brings comedians to campus, a Films one for movies, and there’s a Music committee that takes care of concerts.” At that moment I knew that I had to get involved with UCAB’s Music committee.
Spring of my Freshman year I joined the Music committee and worked my first concert. Gym Class Heroes came to perform at our Lake Matoaka Amphitheatre. The day of the show work started early. We loaded in sound and lights equipment off the trucks and moved them to the stage and helped set them up. We carried the band’s instruments, set up their dressing rooms, and a table for their merchandise. I had no idea that so much work went into making a concert happen, but at the same time it didn’t feel like work. I may have been on my feet, running around, pushing and lifting heavy equipment for 16 hours straight that day, but my excitement and passion for the music kept my energy high. I had this a-ha moment when doors opened that evening. Students started pouring in, smiling-wide and excited for the show that night. Seeing their excitement gave me a sense of fulfillment that I was giving something to my peers and my community.
The organization is now called AMP, but since then I’ve worked all types of shows from big amphitheatre concerts to auditorium shows to small afternoon gigs on our terrace. I’ve had the chance to work with GirlTalk, Wale, K’Naan, the Ting Tings, the Cool Kids, Eric Hutchinson, and Guster just to name a few. I grew as a member of the committee learning valuable lessons in time management, communication, budgeting, negotiation, leadership, and business etiquette. I’ve gained a better grasp of how to work with others in small groups and within a larger organization. All of these lessons and the experience I’ve gained brought me to become the chair of the committee by my senior year.
Now it is the Spring semester of my senior year and I am about to face something entirely unprecedented. Throughout this year I’ve been working with a couple other students to turn our College’s birthday, Charter Day, into a larger, more festive, more student-oriented celebration. One of the ways we are doing that is by holding a large concert that weekend. After working with the Student Assembly for the funds, and spending months researching for available artists to play (not that many bands tour during the winter), we managed to book the Roots for our Charter Day concert. This February 5th my favorite band of all time will be coming to my school to perform for my friends and my community. I get to share my favorite thing in the world with my entire school. I get to meet and work with my heroes. If you would like a sense of what this means to me, try and imagine an 8-year-old boy getting to meet his favorite comic book superhero.
It is a paralyzing feeling knowing that your dreams are about to come true. It can leave you speechless and your mind frozen with pure joy and excitement. Part of me is still in disbelief. It may be weeks before I come down from the high I’m on right now (I’m sure I’ll be talking about this for the rest of my life). Though paralyzed, I feel extremely thankful. I’m thankful for AMP, thankful for student activities in general, and thankful that my school is giving me this opportunity. I have had such rewarding time planning concerts for my school and I firmly believe now it is because of times like these that the college years are truly wondrous.
Now if only I can re-create this success after I graduate…