By Amy A. Ross
Thirteen students completed their year-long journey as the inaugural class of Northwestern University’s Masters of Science in Leadership for Creative Enterprises (MSLCE). The students received their degree in a ceremony at the Alice Millar Chapel in Evanston, Illinois, last Thursday, August 27th.
In an overview of the program’s achievements during its first year, MSLCE Director Pablo Boczkowski, highlighted the launch of 13 new classes, visits to more than 30 organizations in different parts of the country, the hosting of eight prominent industry professionals in the Speaker Series and interactions with over two dozen other key professionals in classes.”Each quarter students increasingly talked about the ways in which their courses connected and complemented each other, deepening their understanding of the creative enterprises,” said Boczkowski at the beginning of the ceremony.
The MSLCE is one of three professional degree programs launched last year by Northwestern’s School of Communication (SoC). The School’s Dean, Annenberg University Professor Barbara O’Keefe, applauded the students for their efforts in pioneering the launch of such a unique program. “This is a very unique program because of that synthesis and as a result this program is able to build in its students both a deep understanding of leadership and a toolkit that can be used to meet the very difficult challenge involved in assembling and directing creative teams.” said O’Keefe. The Dean also spoke about the work that went into creating the program and the length of time it had taken to develop the program – five years, praising the students for being pioneers. “I am particularly honored to be here today to recognize the first class of students who have completed this new program. Over the past year, the faculty and I have come to know them and appreciate their many strengths – their hard work, dedication, creativity, and commitment to find new ways of reshaping our common culture,” she said.
Prior to the receiving their diplomas, the students had the opportunity to listen to the advice of Senior programming executive and MSLCE professor, Laverne McKinnon. In a moving and heartfelt keynote speech, McKinnon shared with the students some of the lessons she learned on her professional journey, after working as Senior Vice-President of Drama Development at CBS Entertainment. While holding that position, she oversaw the development of series such as Shark, Criminal Minds, Without A Trace, The Unit, Numb3rs, Cold Case, NCIS and the CSI franchise.
“I was so busy doing, being proactive and trying to succeed, I was disconnected from my purpose…Over time I learned to hear the voice inside my head, my true essence and who I was before I was told who to be” said McKinnon. McKinnon urged students to learn to listen to their intuition and be faithful to their true purpose in life. “Honor your life purpose and if you don’t know what it is yet, go figure it out. Ignorance is not an excuse. You are so capable, so smart. Go find your life purpose!” she said. “Match what you say with your actions. How you spend your day tells you everything you need to know about your values. If you don’t like what you see, change it.” Internships Before successfully completing their degrees, MSLCE students interned at diverse organizations across the creative industries.
Zachary Silva’s internship took him to the Digital Marketing team at Legacy Recordings, the catalog division of Sony Music Entertainment in charge of the estates of Michael Paul Simon and Bob Dillon, among others. “It was a really great experience. A lot of the courses that I took in the program had things that applied to my experience and the employers there and all my coworkers were thrilled to hear that a program like this exists to help us develop these creative business skills and the wherewithal to know what to do with them and how to apply them in what can be really daunting industries,” said Silva.
Holli Gilvaie carried out her internship at a local public access station in Long Beach, called Padnet. “I got to learn how to do production and post-production and had an amazing experience getting to know the very small staff — it is only four people — and got to create some amazing relationships. It was hard to leave, to be honest! I got to figure out what I want to do with my career and it was amazing,” said Gilvaie. Danielle Pierre and Hannah Aubry both agreed that their time in the program equipped them the skills and confidence they needed to pursue careers in the creative industries.
Pierre worked for five months at Pitchfork Media’s Chicago office as their business operations intern. “It was great getting to work in such a small intimate office and it was great getting to know people on such a personal level and with access to every department from sales, to design and development,” said Pierre.
“I’ve learned so many skills, so many things that I never thought I would know in terms of business like how to fill out a proforma sheet, how to do all sorts of finance things, a lot about contract law, etc.” said Aubry. “Even more than all of that, it was such an incredible experience just to be working with such intelligent, passionate, creative people in terms of the professors and professionals we met on the treks, which were phenomenal experiences. I would not trade the past year for anything.”