Farewell Letters From Graduating Groovers Lisa Occhino and Alyssa McCord

Lisa and Alyssa at the Blue Man Group show (where those cool handprint stickers came from!)Lisa and Alyssa at the Blue Man Group show (where those cool handprint stickers came from!)
Lisa Occhino, left, and Alyssa McCord, right, at The Groove's spring 2013 thank you party.

Lisa Occhino, left, and Alyssa McCord, right, at The Groove’s spring 2013 thank you party.

A farewell letter from Lisa Occhino, Editor-in-Chief, September 2011 – December 2013:

A couple of weeks ago, our staff writer (and soon-to-be editor) Caleb asked me if there was any artist I still wanted to see live that I haven’t gotten to see yet. I had to think about it for long enough that he finally said, “That’s the best answer you could have given.”

To put that into perspective, this is what working for The Groove has looked like for me, just in this last year alone:

Don't worry, that handprint is just a sticker from the Blue Man Group!

Don’t worry, that handprint is just a sticker from the Blue Man Group!

And to put that into perspective, I’ve worked for The Groove for three years.

There are so many fond memories packed into each and every one of those ticket stubs, and I feel like the absolute luckiest music college student in the world every time I look at them. Whenever I think back on my college experience, I realize that it is utterly inseparable from The Groove; it’s made up such a significant part of my life from my second semester all the way through to my last semester. And when I think about the most rewarding experiences of not only college, but of my entire life, The Groove has been directly responsible for the overwhelming majority. I could be wrong, but I’m not sure if you could say the same for many other Student Employment jobs.

If it weren’t for my older sister Christine (Berklee grad, former Promotional Director of The Groove, and now owner of The Pop Music Academy) nagging me to apply for the staff writer position when I was looking for an on-campus job at the end of my first semester, I never would have even given it a second thought. I thought I would have been perfectly content getting paid to do my homework and occasionally answer phones at a work-study job – and I would have been content, but that would have been the extent of it. I’ll never know what course my life would have taken if I hadn’t applied to be a staff writer for The Groove, but I do know with absolute certainty that I would never, ever take back that decision in a billion years.

“I’ll never know what course my life would have taken if I hadn’t applied to be a staff writer for The Groove, but I do know that I would never, ever take back that decision in a billion years.”

I became so genuinely passionate about my work and found the opportunities to be so gratifying that I would spend countless nights racking my brain, trying to figure out how I could continue even a fraction of what I’ve been doing for The Groove after I graduate. But it wasn’t until the president of Sonicbids contacted me out of the blue in November with an offer to be the company’s first managing editor (which I obviously accepted!) that I realized that was my dream job. It embodies everything that I could possibly be excited to do on a daily basis, and it’s the culmination of everything that I have been studying, learning, and working towards for the last three and a half years: music, business, digital marketing, social media, and a passion for writing and editing that I never would have discovered or cultivated if I didn’t work for The Groove.

I don’t want to sell myself short by saying that The Groove itself was the only reason I was offered the position with Sonicbids – I also did three internships, I’m very entrepreneurial, I try to take in as much knowledge as I can possibly retain, I work insanely hard, and I put every ounce of that into taking The Groove to the next level. But I do know that the company wouldn’t have even reached out to me if I didn’t have that “editor” title on my LinkedIn page, along with the accomplishments that I was able to cite because of it.

I think I’m always going to feel like there’s so much more I could do for The Groove if I just had one more month, or one more semester, or one more year. But as I write this, what I’m finally beginning to realize is that as much as I’ve grown attached to The Groove after fully immersing myself in it for the last three years, I think I’m ready to move on to the next chapter of my life. Not because I’m “over it” or love it any less, but for the exact opposite reason: because more than anything, I want new, enthusiastic students to be able to experience just how rewarding The Groove can be if you’re dedicated to it, and I know that in order to make room for that to happen, I need to get out of the way.

The Groove team and the Berklee community have become my second families, and Boston has become my second home. I will forever love this school and this city and all of the wonderful people who fill it.

Lisa and Alyssa at the Blue Man Group show (where those cool handprint stickers came from!)

Lisa and Alyssa at the Blue Man Group show (where that handprint sticker in the above photo came from!)

I hope you have the most wonderful holiday season, and I wish you all the best in 2014.

Love,
Lisa

—–—–

A farewell letter from Alyssa McCord, Promotional Director, January 2012 – December 2013:

To sum it up… Berklee changed my life. Coming from a small, rural town in southern Maryland, I never would have thought that I would be graduating from the best music school in the world. More so, I never thought that I would have been able to accomplish some of the incredible things I’ve come to do during my time here. From interviewing some of my biggest musical inspirations (like Imagine Dragons and Bastille), attending hundreds of shows, planning countless events like Berklee’s first ever glow-in-the-dark dance party and our “In the Groove” songwriting competitions, and promoting some of today’s most influential artists, The Groove and this school have given me more than just cool things to put on my résumé and musical memories to last a lifetime – they’ve given me courage.

“I now have the courage to say goodbye and start the life that Berklee and The Groove helped me realize that I am capable of living.”

When I transferred to Berklee, I was a nervous wreck about 24/7. After all, being surrounded by 4,000+ super confident musical prodigies everyday is enough to make your head spin. Nevertheless, with constant encouragement from my teachers, love and support from my newfound Berklee friends, and lots of long hours spent in Berklee’s tiny little practice rooms, Berklee taught me to pick my chin up and channel all of my energy into what we’re all so passionate about at Berklee: music. From then on, it was nothing but drive. Through my position with The Groove, lots of internships, studying my butt off, building some of the most amazing friendships I could have ever hoped for, and surviving one of the toughest and scariest years Boston has ever seen, I now have the courage to say goodbye, head to Nashville, and start the life that Berklee and The Groove helped me realize that I am capable of living.

While life after Berklee is really only just beginning, words will never be able to express how much my experience as a Berklee student has meant to me. Complete with some of the most heartbreaking, rewarding, and mind-blowing experiences of my entire life, I owe my heart to this school, The Groove and its passionate team, Boston, and the Berklee community. Leaving this city will undoubtedly be hard, but I take comfort in knowing that I’m leaving here Boston Strong, a far better musician, and much braver than I ever knew I could be.

To those of you left with time here at Berklee, I’ll leave you with this: Never be afraid to dream bigger. Fearlessness is a choice, and it’s the best decision you’ll ever make.

To the staff at The Groove that I am honored to call my second family, this beautiful city that I’ll always call home, and to the incredible community here at Berklee – thank you for everything.

Love,
Alyssa