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MEISA Students Thrive as Mentors and Mentees

Nashville Trip, Rising Officers Highlight Organization’s Bright Future

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MEISA students on the Sony Music Nashville couch, from left, Morgan Mahoney, Regina Alongi, Nick Mariotti, Reuben Walton, LeAnne Piepiora, Graham Clancy and adviser Pete Lally.

By Julia Gavin

Spring break plans: sun and sand or networking in Nashville? Members of the Music and Entertainment Industry Student Association chose the latter, prepping for life after graduation even as freshmen.

Six students and adviser Pete Lally spent the week in “Music City, U.S.A.” touring studios, meeting industry professionals and connecting with mentors they met through email.

The mentor program, which paired 10 students with professionals working in their area of focus, is an opportunity for students to see what the working world is like and make vital connections before graduation. 

“We’ve talked with our mentors a lot online and have learned from them,” says Reuben Walton, a music business senior from Falmouth. “But being able to pick their brains in person was great.”

The mentors brought contacts from the local music industry to a dinner event, gathering more than 20 professionals from many fields to meet the students.

Throughout the trip, the MEISA students saw highlights of Nashville’s music history including two of the rarest microphones in the world, the mixing board behind many top 40 hits at Blackbird Studios and the Sony Music Nashville couch where countless artists have gotten news of their albums going platinum. They also made connections in the publishing, managing and songwriting worlds, visiting the Country Music Hall of Fame, William Morris Agency and the recording studio of former White Stripes frontman Jack White.

Regina Alongi, a freshman music business major from Braintree and MEISA officer, gained valuable experience on the trip.

“This early exposure to the business world has helped me learn so much already,” says Alongi. “I’ve been able to make professional connections as a freshman and if I keep them up I’ll be all set after graduation.”

Senior music business major and MEISA President LeAnne Piepiora has seen the change the organization can make for students.

“Almost all of my professional opportunities have come from being part of MEISA,” says Piepiora, who plans to work in tour, festival and event planning and has several opportunities to choose from following graduation.

Organization Overhaul

In past years, MEISA focused mainly on sending members to a national conference. Today, MEISA students have turned their attention to campus. They’ve planned trips such as Nashville, started the mentoring program, began a successful visiting speakers series, brought in members from other majors and expanded the Southfest festival, which brings bands and artists to South Campus for a day of artistic celebration. Piepiora sees students staying engaged throughout the school year and has witnessed interest from more young members, paving a stable path for semesters to come.

Among their successes, this year’s Mothers of Rock concert raised a record amount and drew a new audience of parents and community members, pushing the organization’s reach beyond campus. They hope to invite founding organizers and MEISA alumni back for next year’s 10th anniversary show.

“I’m really excited to be a part of MEISA,” says officer and sound recording technology major Nick Mariotti of Westford, who also traveled to Nashville. “Campus life is growing and we want to help create and expand more events.”

Off campus, members helped with the 2nd annual New England Music Awards and conference in April, connecting with local and regional music movers and shakers. Piepiora used the opportunity to bring in younger students, helping them get their feet in the door while she learned more about event coordination in her role as volunteer. 

“I can see how far ahead the involved freshmen are now. It’s like starting college as a junior,” says Piepiora. “They have a great three years ahead of them and the organization is going to keep growing.”

The officers, mostly early on in their college careers, are intent on keeping the growth Piepiora, Walton and other upperclassmen have built in the last few years. Alongi says experiences like the Nashville trip have been extremely beneficial and she and the other officers want to give other students the same opportunities.

“We have big shoes to fill,” says Mariotti, “but even bigger aspirations.”