My name is Aja Armstrong and I am a junior music industry major. I have always loved music, so naturally I gravitated towards Monmouth’s esteemed music industry program. Throughout my time at Monmouth, I have been involved with the student-run record label Blue Hawk Records (BHR), and was recently voted Co-President. I am currently planning shows for the label to produce this fall with acts from both Monmouth and the local scene, as well as all the way from my hometown of Los Angeles, CA.
Last year, I was able to plan BHR’s first ever trip to LA, where we made lasting connections with entertainment companies like NBC Universal, Capitol Records, and The Grammy Museum. This huge opportunity would never have been possible without the help and encouragement of Professor Rapolla, whose guidance has enabled me to truly make a name for myself at the University.
A staple of the Jersey Shore music scene, Zack Sandler ’20 is an instrumentalist, producer, promoter, manager, and booking agent. Sandler plays saxophone and guitar for the bands Bobby Mahoney and the Seventh Son and the Psychotic Submarines, and has rocked notorious New Jersey venues such as the Stone Pony, Starland Ballroom, the House of Independents, and the Stone Pony Summer Stage. Sandler has also produced concerts under his own name, most notably his annual “Set for Vets” benefit concert series that made its debut in January 2017. All of the proceeds from this show were donated to the Wounded Warrior Project.
As a former intern at the Stone Pony, Sandler has worked professionally alongside artists like Jason Mraz, Carly Rae Jepsen, the Bouncing Souls, Mariana’s Trench, and the Struts. Sandler currently books and manages the band Glenn Alexander and Shadowland, which features members of Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes. He has also met and shared the stage with various prominent musicians such as Bruce Springsteen, Jon Bon Jovi, Little Steven Van Zandt, Southside Johnny Lyon, Joan Jett, Paul Shaffer, Rob Trujillo various members of the E Street Band, and many others.
“All of the professors in the music department at Monmouth University are truly special and unique because when they’re not focused on teaching in the classroom, they are heavily involved in their personal endeavors within the music industry. The music courses at Monmouth aren’t just textbook studies; they’re the real scenarios and situations that musicians are put into during their everyday work life out in the music world.”
Monmouth’s music industry program was a perfect fit for me. The curriculum includes both music and business classes, which prepares students for all aspects of the music industry. My professors provide a hands-on approach to learning by guiding students through the process of producing a record. With Blue Hawk Records, Monmouth’s student-run record label, students are responsible for selecting talent, as well as recording, releasing, promoting, and distributing music through physical copies and streaming platforms. The faculty is committed to enhancing the program and providing opportunities for us to expand our knowledge, apply our skills, and make connections within the industry.
At Monmouth, my education has extended far beyond the classroom. As the Secretary of Blue Hawk Records and member of The Music Alliance, I am an active part of the music scene on campus. And by working with the Music and Theatre department, I have secured an internship for booking and promoting acoustic concerts at a local venue to expand upon my industry knowledge.
Thanks to the education I’m receiving in Monmouth’s music industry program, I have the knowledge and the confidence to apply my skills in real-world situations.
I have always believed that an internship is a chance to leave my comfort zone and learn something new. When I began to search for the right Ex Ed placement, I knew I wanted to be challenged by a new opportunity outside my usual surroundings, as well as pursue a field that related to my goals in life. I want to be an attorney, so I searched every type of internship that could possibly involve the legal field and ultimately settled on Senator Jennifer Beck’s office in Red Bank. Although the political world is not my cup of tea, I was very excited to be given this opportunity to face something that challenges me head on. I was invited to intern for my fall semester (2016) three days per week. My enthusiasm for being in a Senator’s office and understanding the behind-the-scenes of politics was outweighing the nervous part of me.
As an intern, I was able to take part in multiple events outside of the office and broaden my political horizon greatly. The second day at my internship, I attended a dinner where Senator Beck honored Rape Crisis Advocates. The testimonies were very powerful, and I was able to hear many advocates share their stories; I would not have been able meet such wonderful, strong women if I had not interned at the Senator’s office. I also had the opportunity to attend a luncheon at the Shadowbrook in Shrewsbury for the Affordable Housing Alliance that honored Senator Beck’s work with the organization. It was amazing to consistently see how a woman could be so important and effective in a world mainly dominated by men.
Inside the office, I attended meetings and was introduced to the Senator’s constituents. At one of these gatherings, I met five rabbis from Long Branch who were concerned about the assisted suicide bill and whether it would be passed in New Jersey. Meeting the voices of the Jewish communities of Long Branch was enlightening, and I was fortunate to have the opportunity to begin to understand their perspective and their faith. I also met a brilliant attorney who wanted to make a difference in her community and ultimately be nominated to become a judge. Much like Senator Beck, this attorney was incredibly inspiring, and it was exciting to meet a woman who was capable of achieving what I want to do and more. Being introduced to powerful men and women at the Senator’s office has encouraged me to follow in the footsteps of people like Senator Beck.
This internship definitely allowed me to step out of my comfort zone by encouraging me to immerse myself in a new environment and grow as a student. I loved meeting new people, taking part in events, and learning what it meant to be a representative for a community. I will carry these lessons with me as I continue on to law school next year. As a student at Monmouth University, I have learned how to speak to not only my peers, but also professors and Senators. I am able to discuss multiple subjects with professionals and not feel intimidated because Monmouth has allowed me to flourish in all my classes. This internship has provided the opportunity to use all the skills I have learned at Monmouth and transform them into real-life experience.
During his time at Monmouth University, Hunter Farman, ’17, was very active with The X. He was a national finalist for a Best On-Air Personality Award, and got to interview some of the biggest names in the business.
Since graduating, Farman went on to work with 107.1 The Boss in Neptune, NJ. He was able to seamlessly continue his college radio career directly into the professional arena upon graduation.
“I would not be there today had it not been for everything that I did during my time here at The X. People thought I was crazy for waking up two or three times a week at 5:30 a.m. to go live for X and breakfast at 6 a.m. People thought I was crazy for being on-air three, four, five, six times a week. But I did it because I love it, and I did it because I’m serious about pursuing it. I don’t know what the future holds, but for now, my experiences with The X have paid off,” he added.
Farman’s advice to current Monmouth students is to make the most of their time in the program.
“If you really want to do this, you need to put in the time, and you need to put in the effort,” Farman added.
HUNTER FARMAN, ’17
Degree: B.A. Communication/Radio/TV