Bringing the Beat to Boston
Boston University students from warmer climes are often in for a harsh surprise when they return from winter break their freshman year. Julie Hirsch, a born-and-bred Angelino, had an itch to use college as an opportunity to broaden her academic—and meteorological—experience. “I went to BU because it’s the farthest major city from L.A. still in the country, and I wanted to experience the seasons. Winter in Boston looks very quaint in pictures while you’re sitting in sunny Southern California,” she says. No undergraduate’s tenure at BU would be complete without a few bone-chilling morning dashes from the dorm to the classroom, but Julie has also found much to love outside of her first experience of falling snow. “Boston is a very cool city, especially for English majors,” she says. Long afternoons in the Boston Public Library, the nation’s first municipal lending library and a landmark instance of American Classical architecture, are a studying staple. She has also ventured to the Boston Athenaeum at 10 ½ Beacon Street in the Back Bay, which holds an extensive collection of literary and historical texts as well as art. The collection even includes a book bound in human skin that Julie absolutely refuses to see. (Even the most intrepid adventurers have to draw the line somewhere.)
A rising junior and an English major, Julie has a passion for music that rivals her passion for books. Rhythm got under her skin through childhood dance lessons and led to a career in drums. Now Julie offers private lessons as a part-time job. “It’s a very convenient job to have, and you get to hit things and call it music; that’s definitely a plus.” Living in L.A., she was able to transform her hobby into a valuable internship in the music industry. The skills and connections she gained there unexpectedly afforded her a way to give back to the BU community. Julie and her friend Sony started BU’s first record label, Reputation’s Records, their freshman year. The label represents up-and-coming Boston-area artists under the motto “With enough courage, you don’t need a reputation.” Handling everything from marketing and promotion to contract drafting and negotiation, the label unites talent and experience to build careers in music. “Our goal is to be the stepping stone for bands from their garage to a label. Next year, we’re working on planning a full day music conference with speakers who work in the industry, musicians, professors, panel discussions, and workshops.” Julie’s future plans may include a career in advertising or public relations, fields that will utilize her love of language and her knack for organizing people and generating excitement.
Community formation is important to Julie—it’s a major goal at her label and one of her favorite aspects of studying English at BU. “The community [of English majors] extends to the professors. The classes are small enough that your professor will always know your name and stop to chat with you in the hallway.” She also values the love for the discipline that students and professors share within the department and the passion they bring to their studies. According to Julie, one of the major obstacles facing her generation is apathy. “Our generation has seen a lot,” she says. “We’ve seen terrorism; we’ve seen hurricanes, tsunamis, and earthquakes; we’ve seen war in Afghanistan and Iraq. People think we’re apathetic, and why not? After seeing all of that, I don’t think anyone can blame our generation for not thinking we can change anything. But that’s our problem. Nothing will change if our generation chooses apathy, but the possibility of change is always there. We just have to make it happen.”