Written by Martha Murphy
When I entered Skidmore College as a freshman, I declared a Geology major and Music minor. I spent the fall semester developing quick-witted retorts to teasing about going into “Rock Music.” I spent the spring semester coming to terms with the fact that, as hard as I tried, I couldn’t read and interpret topographical maps—a huge disadvantage when you’re majoring in Geology.
That same spring, I enrolled in a creative writing course to meet a core requirement. A simple assignment—and support from a perceptive and thoughtful professor—altered the direction of my life.
Mid-way through the semester-long writing class, English Professor Alan Brody gave us a prompt: to write about “something that’s within something else.” In an instant, I knew my subject was going to be a piece of classical music I had fallen in love with as a young girl: a symphonic poem by Czech composer Bedřich Smetana called The Moldau, which is the second movement of the six-movement patriotic piece, Má vlast (My Country).
Without effort, I used words to describe what I heard reflected in the music: the flow of a river from the mountains, through the Czech countryside and into the city of Prague, including the evocation of a thunderstorm followed by the majestic re-emergence of the sun from behind storm clouds.
Professor Brody called me into his office the day after I submitted this assignment to let me know how impressed he was with it. He counseled me to change my major to a new program the college was introducing the following year—Musicology, the history of music. He explained that this major would allow me to write about music, a skill for which he said I had a natural affinity. I completed all necessary paperwork that afternoon.
The meeting in Professor Brody’s office that spring day was pivotal. When I entered college, I had dreams of becoming a scientist. By the time I graduated, I had discovered a love for writing—and storytelling— through Musicology, even though I didn’t want to pursue a career in music; I wanted a career in the communications field.
Following graduation, I worked in radio and film before being accepted into a corporate training program at one of the world’s leading public relations firms headquartered in New York City. That’s where I discovered a passion for using my communication skills to build relationships with stakeholders around a company, organization, government or brand.
I am fortunate to still be doing what I love as Director of Public Relations at Reuben Rink: identifying stories with a particular point of view that will engage audiences in a journey of discovery, and communicating those stories authentically and in the most compelling way possible.
And to think it all started with a river.