Study Abroad Experience Builds Versatility, Confidence in Music Alumnus

Katie O'Connor in London with the marching band

As an audio technician at the Xcite Center concert venue at Parx Casino near Philadelphia, Katie O’Connor ’20 showcases numerous skills she developed at LVC and during her semester studying abroad at Queens University in Belfast, Northern Ireland.

O’Connor sets up and oversees the sound for concerts and events and helps maintain the audio-visual system on the casino floor. She describes her job as creative problem-solving and has worked sound for The Beach Boys, Jay Leno, Foreigner, Styx, and The Jacksons, just to name a few.

“I love that every show and every day is different,” she said. “I’ve also learned more about lighting and video production. Like my time at LVC, this job has made me a more well-rounded and versatile tech. I’m also very fortunate to work with a crew that celebrates what I bring to the table and makes me eager to improve constantly.”

O’Connor developed her confidence, adaptive nature, and problem-solving skills while studying as an audio & music production major. She credits her classes, time with the student group Valley Audio, work as a tutor, performances with the music ensembles, and an off-campus internship for preparing her for her career.

“My time studying abroad probably had the most profound impact on who I am today, both in my career and life,” said O’Connor. “LVC is the place that allowed me to make the most of my opportunities, and I was so glad to have had such a varied, well-rounded, and jam-packed college experience.”

O’Connor encourages everyone to explore study abroad opportunities for a semester or short-term summer program.

“Being far from the safety nets of home made me more adaptable and confident,” she said. “Navigating a new, unfamiliar city tests your ability to solve problems, think on your feet, and stay calm under pressure. All of those skills are quintessential to my career.

“I’m not naturally the most confident and decisive person, so having an environment that fostered self-reliance was huge for me. After pushing myself out of my comfort zone, I returned from Belfast as a different, more self-assured person,” she said.

Given her life-changing experience, when O’Connor heard about The Pride of The Valley Marching Band’s invitation to perform in the London New Year’s Day Parade, she jumped at the chance to travel abroad again. Along with marching in the parade, O’Connor traveled to Windsor, visited the Royal Observatory and Prime Meridian, shopped at Christmas markets, and enjoyed New Year’s Eve fireworks on the River Thames.

“To see my alma mater lead the New Year’s Day Parade in London was unreal and very illustrative of one of LVC’s greatest assets,” she said. “LVC offers this unique dichotomy of a small college that exists on a global scale. I loved that I could individualize my experience on a tight-knit campus while still having access to global opportunities.”

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