Alayna McCarty ’22 marvels at how much she’s learned and achieved during her time at Albright College.
A music industry studies major, she’s learned about the ins and outs of the music business, including what it would be like to plan a tour for a rock star. She’s learned to compose and arrange music, promote performers, and edit sound. She became the first person in Albright’s history to participate in every single choral group, including the Roaring Lions, which until McCarty auditioned and joined was an all-male group known as the Mane Men.
She’s learned to manage her time while participating in a host of extra-curriculum activities, keeping up with academics and working two on-campus jobs. She’s acquired useful business skills as manager for the Center for Community Service and Engagement, and equally useful people skills as a Resident Assistant and member and former president of Alpha Phi Omega, a co-ed service fraternity. She also is choir president, a position she set her sights on when first arriving at Albright.
Most important to McCarty, however, is what she’s learned about herself.
“I have a much better sense of where I want to be and what I want to do with my life than I used to,” she said. “I feel like Albright is helping me work toward being a better person. It’s a lot of ups and downs, but I’ve made real progress in the three-and-a-half years I’ve been here.”
She credits much of her personal development to the experience of managing the Center for Community Service and Engagement, a student-run organization that matches the interests of Albright students to volunteer opportunities throughout Greater Reading. The center also sponsors an annual volunteer fair to introduce students to area nonprofits.
“I love that job almost more than anything else I’ve ever done,” McCarty said. “It’s made me consider the possibility of working for a nonprofit after I graduate.”
She is grateful for mentorship she’s received from Keith Walls, who advises the Center for Community Service and Engagement and encouraged McCarty to pursue her idea for a charity event to benefit the BoStrong Foundation, a Maryland-based nonprofit that provides resources – including music therapy – for young adults battling cancer.
With help from Walls, McCarty planned a relay event geared toward fundraising and recently pitched it to BoStrong representatives.
“The foundation loved it,” McCarty said. “They were super excited, and it looks like the event will take place sometime next spring.”
She also is appreciative of direction she’s received from her advisor, A.J. Merlino, D.M.A., who helped her navigate changing her major from education to music industry studies at the beginning of her junior year.
While she appreciates all she’s accomplished, McCarty acknowledges she’s experienced some difficulties along the way and sometimes struggles with her mental health. It took her a while to realize, she admitted, that constant business is not a substitute for self-care.
“For a long time, I told myself that as long as I kept busy everything would be okay,” she explained. “I finally realized that until you take care of yourself first, you really can’t be successful in anything else.”
Looking ahead to graduation, McCarty is weighing nonprofit work with a position within the music industry. Either way, she’s excited about the future. Taking on so many leadership roles at Albright presented many challenges, she reflected, but provided many rewards, as well.
“Albright offers so many opportunities for growth and leadership,” McCarty said. “It’s been difficult at times, but I’ve always felt supported. I’ve seen that staff and faculty members genuinely care about us and want the best for us, and that makes it all worth it.”