Listen to the interview (approx. 1 hr 21 min) or download it.
Graduated in 2008 with majors in Film Composition and Electronic Production & Design (then called Music Synthesis). Principal Instrument: voice.
Position: Registered Nurse at UCLA Health, Santa Monica, a large teaching hospital. Stephanie works on a geriatric (elderly) floor. She started in 2016, so as of the interview is in her first year, which is a “residency.” However, unlike medical residencies for doctors who are expected to leave when they end, nurses are welcome to stay.
UPDATE Feb. 2018: Stephanie has been working at UCLA Health for close to two years. “In the past 6 months, I’ve noticed a huge shift. The work is no longer about mastering skills – they have become second nature now – and nursing feels more like an art. I am constantly inspired and filled with confidence and passion for what I do for a living.” She also reports, “Despite California’s high cost of living, I’m financially comfortable and have already paid off over $20,000 of nursing school debt.”
In addition to her regular nursing tasks in the geriatric ward, Stephanie is presenting her research at nursing conferences and is taking on more leadership roles among the nurses on her floor. “When leaving music and deciding on a new career, I always imagined what my ideal future would look like. And looking around at my life right now, I can honestly say it is all that and more!”
Overview: Upon graduating Berklee, Stephanie moved to L.A. and sought work as a composer. The chair of the Film Composition dept. connected her to a Berklee alum who composed for television and needed an assistant. For six years, she worked for him, doing many different tasks in their two-person outfit: composition, recording, orchestrating sessions, administrative tasks. However, within a couple of years Stephanie realized that she was unhappy with the work. An extrovert, she missed working with other people and the extremely long hours meant she had little life outside of work. Her mother had been a nurse, Stephanie realized that nursing had what she wanted in a career: working with others, helping other people, opportunities for career growth and to learn new things, and decent hours. She volunteered in hospitals and confirmed that she loved it.
For her last three years assisting the composer, Stephanie took required prerequisite classes at night, and also volunteered at hospitals! Finally, with those done, she applied to and was accepted at Johns Hopkins University “where they are as passionate about medicine as Berklee is about music.” She got a half-scholarship, was president of their Geriatric Society, and earned a Bachelors of Science degree in Nursing. She wanted to go back to California and work in geriatrics, so she applied to work on a geriatric floor of the prestigious, extremely competitive UCLA hospital and was hired!
Music played a key role in Stephanie getting her job! In California, the process for certification as a nurse, which in other states is a 1-2 week processing time, can take a full year, forcing newly-graduated nurses to sit idle and not work–awful! Stephanie did a music video, a parody of “Hello” by Adele, which went viral! It got her on the news, drew attention to the problem, and also got her the assistance of a state senator who ensured that she got her certification in time (It still took a good 6 months.) to start her job. Here’s the video:
You can see Stephanie’s LinkedIn Profile here.
Choice quotes: “However fried I’m feeling after 14 hours I feel really accomplished and fulfilled about what I did that day. It’s also awesome to just work 3 days per week and have 4 days off!”
“It really hits you when you’re at your first job and you’re not working on mannequins anymore. When I did music for TV people acted like things were life or death, but giving my patients the care and medicine they need really IS life or death!”
“I don’t regret for a second going to Berklee. I’m so proud, and people I meet are really impressed by my background. My friends and I look back on our time at Berklee as among the most special years of our lives”
Stephanie as a Berklee student, behind the console. She gives credit to her EPD major for her current success. “Software changes; but the EPD classes taught us how to tackle anything–how to pick things apart, look at them in a modular way, handle any situation. That really helped as I approached nursing school and gave me the confidence that I could learn the science and learn to be a pro at something new.”
Stephanie as a nursing student at Johns Hopkins. Even after her overloaded schedule, she found nursing school extremely intense, but more surprises were in her future, “Your first year as a nurse is the most intense learning curve you’ll ever experience. More intense even than nursing school and I didn’t think anything could be more intense than that! But I’m lucky to be on such a great floor and get such good support from my coworkers.”
Stephanie as a nursing student, volunteering with children in Guatemala. Her schooling let her try out many different roles, but she found that “I really resonated with the geriatric population. They have some amazing stories, and I felt a lot of compassion for these people.”
Stephanie today, happier than she has ever been–doing what she loves, and having a good work/life balance. “While working as a composer’s assistant, every day I fought with myself and wondered why is this not making me happy. I grew up being a musician…if I’m not that what am I going to do? I felt lost. Then one day I volunteered at a camp for children who had lost parents, as I had lost my mother, and I felt better than I had in a long time. The path I had to take became clear.”