Pros help Abington students explore flexible, creative Integrative Arts careers

Penn State Abington students gathered to hear about the myriad of career options available to Integrative Arts majors. The panel discussion and networking event, Creative Careers in Integrative Arts, featured John Pachence, two-award winning producers, an entertainment management executive, an art educator and a music therapist.

“I am living proof that a career in the arts can provide a roof over your head and food on the table.”

Pachence, music lecturer at Penn State Abington and songwriter for musicians such as Rascal Flatts and The Band Perry, beamed as the roomful of students smiled and sighed with relief when he answered the question that looms for many of them, especially in difficult economic times.

“It all comes down to self-management, and I battle it every day. You need incredible drive to create your own career path,” Pachence said. He also owns a music production house with clientele such as BMW and The History Channel and serves as keyboardist /guitarist for the Beach Boys touring band.

Abington alumna Tom McDonnell, director of event services and group sales at Philadelphia’s Wells Fargo Center, told the students, “Penn State Abington was great for me, it helped me grow, and I was able to stay in the Philadelphia area. It helped me find my path.”

Pachence and McDonnell were joined by:
• Penn State alumna Jodi Goren-Rode, producer of the Food Network’s top-rated show “Restaurant: Impossible.” Goren-Rode, who boasts more than 20 years’ experience in the television and advertising industries, urged the students, “Be your own best advocate. Never say no, and always show effort.”
• “How badly do you want it?” Emmy-award winning producer and alumna Joan Robbins challenged the students.  Robbins is president of talent relations for Entertainment Studios, the largest syndication and production house in the nation. “Remember: If you can’t get in the front door, go in through the window, the side door or the back door,” she said.
• Cheryl Kripke Cohen is a hospital certified master of harp therapy. Cohen was a nurse for many years but found a new sense of fulfillment bringing the healing power of music to patients in hospitals, nursing homes and variety of other settings.
• Marge Horner, education director at the Abington Art Center, shared her journey, which began as a fine artist. She is now an arts educator and administrator.

Carol DeBunda, coordinator of the Career Development Center (CDC) at Abington, reminded the students about the assistance and options that are available to them.

“The word is: Networking. Career Development will get you started,” she said. “Do you need an internship? Career Development is the place to go. We are here to help launch your career.”

Creative Careers in Integrative Arts is the newest in a series of events that the CDC at Abington organizes throughout the academic year to help students network with and learn from professionals in various fields. Other events focus on corporate communications, administration of justice and business.

The bachelor’s degree in Integrative Arts allows students to design their own multidisciplinary major using the spectrum of courses offered at Abington.  The major appeals to students who want to deepen their appreciation of the arts while developing an expertise in other disciplines so that art can remain an active component of their professional lives.

For more information on the Integrative Arts major go to

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Last Updated March 25, 2013