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Zach DeNike ’20 Turned His Classroom into a Recording Studio—Here’s How He Did It

11/15/2018

He plays six instruments, sings, writes songs, acts, dances, and succeeds on the football field. For Zach DeNike ’20, coming to Endicott meant crafting his own experience specifically around his passion for both music and football. Endicott prides itself on being a place where students are able to truly make their degree their own—DeNike took full advantage of that and through his liberal studies major, he was able to create an individually designed major in music performance and songwriting.

The fact that I designed this specific major and was able to fulfill everything that I’ve had in mind with both my internship and my coursework is incredible.

DeNike describes himself as an alternative singer songwriter and is currently working on an album. He says, “It’s going pretty well. It’s tough to balance it with football and school right now. Whenever I have free time I’m always coming up with ideas and playing music and collaborating with people.”

For him, choosing Endicott came easy. He says, “When I came here, something kept bringing me back. It felt like a family atmosphere and I loved the campus—everything about it. I went to a few classes and I pictured myself coming here more than any other school. I love everyone on my team, the coaching staff, and the school. I live on the beach this year. I wake up and look out my window, and see the ocean. Hearing the ocean before I go to bed is incredible, not many kids can say that.”

DeNike recently completed his internship with Premier Studios, a top New York City recording studio, whose client list is littered with high-profile names like DJ Khaled, Justin Bieber, and Rihanna. Here are five ways DeNike catered his degree to his personal passions and goals—and how you can, too.

Five ways to make your degree yours.

Internships, internships, internships.

I did my first internship at Premier Studios and was able to work with DJ Khaled, Steve Aoki, Young Thug, and Nick Cannon. I recorded and wrote a song with Kesha’s producer. Making a name for yourself in the music industry is all about who you know and the connections that you make. And that’s exactly what internships allow you to do—create connections.

Direct your study.

The fact that I designed this specific major and was able to fulfill everything that I’ve had in mind with both my internship and my coursework is incredible. I’ve designed and altered a few courses and the faculty have been so supportive. Right now, in my studio production class, instead of following the traditional assignments of the course, I’m writing an entire album.

Zach DeNike wearing a #16 jersey carrying the football Balance your passions.

Football has to come first because I’m committed to a collegiate sport and all my teammates. I have 80 something brothers on my team that I can’t let down. Football has given me the drive I need as a musician. Every other weekend I travel to Premier to record. Most kids would want to stay on campus on the weekends, but for me, I’m perfectly fine going home to make three or so songs. It’s where I can focus on my music the best and sometimes I need to do it to balance both.

Be a go-getter.

Football plays a huge role in my success because you have to have a crazy drive to be a student-athlete and an insane work ethic if you want to be successful. The same is true for music. Not very many people make it in the music industry. You have to be sure of what you want, have a set goal, and be confident that you’re going to stick with it. The music industry is a tough industry to be in and it’s not very forgiving. You have to be motivated and have a go-getter mentality.

Work hard. Period.

To balance a sport and a passion for music, you just have to have heart. That’s really what it comes down to. Endicott’s motto for our football team is, ‘you got to find a way or make one.’ At Premier the hours were sometimes from 9am to 7:30pm, then a day off, then 7:30pm to 9am again. Certain artists prefer to record at different times. It was tough, but I adjusted to it and managed my time really well. I’d leave work and go to the high school field nearby to train in preparation for the football season.

Interested in learning more about how you can cater your own education to your passions? Explore the Endicott Liberal Studies: Individually Designed Major and see the opportunity for yourself.

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