“When I look back at my time at NEC, I didn’t just sing. Seeds were already being planted for me to form my career around my Renaissance-person identity.”
Whether in music, science or business, the desire to make a meaningful impact is at the core of every decision for Kathleen Stetson ’06 MM. NEC helped her develop skills that would prepare her for a diverse career path. “You arrive thinking that you’re on top, and then you realize how many skills you’re missing,” she said. “NEC gave me the personal attention I needed to improve and progress.”
Encouraging students to embrace a broad range of disciplines is one of NEC’s core values. When Kathleen applied to an acoustical engineering program after NEC, she found that having an NEC education was more valuable than just a science background would have been. “NEC was wildly influential in my acoustical engineering career. I believe I was able to pursue that program only because of my musical training,” she said. “The expertise I developed at NEC—to listen deeply and collaborate with others with openness and an attitude of experimentation—helped me as I worked with a team designing the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center for the Greek National Opera in Athens.”
Although her acoustical work will enhance the experiences of future concertgoers, Kathleen wanted to make an even more direct and immediate impact. As she was completing her MBA at MIT, she launched Hacking Arts, an annual conference where artists, technologists and entrepreneurs could come together to collaborate, design and turn ideas into reality. Her connection to NEC enabled students from the Entrepreneurial Musicianship department to participate, bringing their musical inspiration into the hub of innovation. In the seven years of Hacking Arts conferences, Kathleen watched proudly as connections were made and startups took off, enriching surrounding communities.
Kathleen is now a coach who helps entrepreneurs and creatives thrive in their business and personal lives. She has found that her NEC experience prepared her for this work, too: “Being a teaching assistant at NEC and tutoring while I got my degree gave me valuable teaching experience, which certainly formed the foundation of the methodology I use with clients today. The people I work with now are just like the wonderful people I went to NEC with: people who want to chart their own path.”