*Note: This playlist is endless, I will keep adding songs to it that I’ve come to love over the years, so stay tuned!*
If you’re reading this, it’s never too late to look back at the last 4 years of your undergraduate career.
After having my last two organization meetings, my last classes, my last projects, my last exams, my first and last undergraduate ceremony, I came to the realization that graduation happened. Though many fear the impending nature of what being an “adult” means, I see it as an opportunity to finally do something morewith the activities and the experiences that I put myself through and exposed myself to in these past four years. I look back with a more mature outlook as to what graduating means – adventure.
This is not goodbye. This is a thank you.
I feared this year more so in the past than I do now. Sophomore year, I already thought about how I only had 3 years left and that I still had no idea who I was or who I am supposed to be. Junior year, I feared that I needed to hurry up and become the person I finally figured out that I wanted to be. And now, as a senior, I am as I am. I am a person who cared and worked so hard to follow a passion that seemed at first so far from reach. I am a person who met so many faces and made so many relationships along the way. I am a person of many, many decisions made. I am a person 4 years older than I was when I first came to college. I am a person that couldn’t be who she was today without the people, the mentors, and the opportunities she was given. I am a person liberated by her knowing of self.
So to spell out “Neelu” today, I’m going to take us back through a soundtrack of songs and episodes that was and is Neelu Mohaghegh, a person who hopes to continue to live her greatest passions, continue to surround herself with the people she loves most, and grow as she pursues more adventures the world each day. So press “play” on the playlist above now.
Freshman Year 2014-2015:
This was and had to be one of the hardest semesters I had. This semester I learned self-identification; however, if there was anything that I gained the most out of this, it was to never let anyone define you but you. It’s never easy making decisions for yourself, especially when you don’t even know what you want. I had always had a love for music, media, and current events. My older brother even pegged that first before I could, but I was unsure and unknowing of what was out there in that particular world, and so I went on, having this heaviness in my heart, pursuing something else, and letting others command me my path. The only organization I joined that semester was the college radio station, and that was the one thing that kept me sane that semester. Thank you to my first radio family who showed me that I was meant to pursue the music industry. To top that off, I made some incredible friendships with the ladies (and the few men) of my freshman dorm floor. 18B, this is a thank you to you. Thank you for making my time at BU that first year one to never forget. Though some of us have gone our ways, our crew will still remains a special memory in my heart– it still amazes me how they placed us all on a floor together. Some of us still are friends, and I couldn’t be more thankful for that. By the end of this year, I realized I couldn’t keep pretending to enjoy the classes I was in, and so I took a chance, and after much arguing, was finally able to change my course.
THIS was a semester. This was the one that really started it all for me. I couldn’t believe I finally had a chance to make something out of my love for the music industry, but regardless, it was hard. It was difficult because I went to a school that of course didn’t provide a foundation for me. Yet it was liberating because the endless possibilities of fabricating a new community on campus was thrilling and possible for me. There was no Music Business Club before, and I was in a city that didn’t have a bustling music industry scene. I did all of the research I could about the industry and opportunities in it. I stalked LinkedIn (a skill everyone should have). I still had the radio show as home base. One of my first business professors really understood my struggle and happened to be a person who supported me in this journey. I went to her after class and spoke with her about the possibility of starting my own Music Business Club on campus, to which she wholeheartedly encouraged. Later, I would meet up with one of her TAs to officially plan out the organization. After that, I did more digging because I needed more. I didn’t want to waste a single second. I had seen a flyer for Verge Campus (yes, thisVerge Campus) needing to start a chapter at BU. Completely frightful of starting another organization on my own (theme?), I went to my RA who encouraged me and told me I had the ability to be an Editor-In-Chief. Skeptical but so hungry, I went for it, and to my surprise, I was hired. These two organizations would be the biggest impacts of my college career.
The rest of sophomore year sped by. I had my first real heartbreak, I went through an illness from being too stressed out and overworking myself, I went to the gym constantly and consistently to relieve that stress, and that summer I traveled with my family. It was a very introspective summer where I traveled to some incredible places, saw and spent time with family, listened to some great music, and really focused my energy on myself and my passions rather than the limitations. That summer, I had the chance to cover my first festival as VIP press! It was for the Billboard Hot 100 and that’s where I re-discovered my love for photography. My mentors from Verge Campus included two incredible women that are unfortunately no longer with the team, but seriously without them, I would have never built the power to find my voice via media and writing in music.
*Never let anyone define you but you.
*Liberate yourself because endless possibilities of fabricating your own world is possible if you try.
Sophomore Year 2015- 2016:
This semester I knew who I was now. Not all existentially, I just knew the direction I needed to take. The Music Business Club started and I was excited to officially have my Verge Campus team well formed and ready to go. In the first Music Business Club meeting I met my soul mate, and re-found love at a time I wasn’t looking for it or even was sure it existed. I made some incredible new friendships and one with an older colleague from freshman year that re-blossomed and transformed into my best friendship.
Though all was well this semester, I also had the hardships of overloading in courses I wasn’t crazy about so I could catch up to the business school requirements to graduate on time. I also got INSANELY SICK! It was a battle that really tested my headspace and my ability to fight back. If there’s ever a time to believe in love and passion and self-power, it was then. That’s also when I realized that my dreams and abilities were my priority over the obstacles set in my way. As long as I was able to believe in myself, and push, I was going to make it. (That’s the mindset I put myself in at least).
Second semester came, I joined a business fraternity to have a family of people in the large university that I could depend on and lean on, and through them I learned professionalism and did build a family of friends I adored.
Summer rolled around, and I decided that though I was stuck in Massachusetts, I wasn’t going to slow down. Sophia Chang, the former manager of Wu-Tang Clan who spoke to MBC, told us once that she didn’t want us to just think outside of the box, she wanted us to crush it. So, that summer, I commuted weekly to Verge Campus to keep writing, and boy, did I write. I wrote 15 articles a day! I went to concerts, I interviewed artists, I networked, and I developed my craft. Off to junior year I went, ready for my next adventure with a new set of tools, a forceful energy, and a fiery focus.
*Good things come to those who stay focused, stay productive, and stay patiently enthusiastic.
Junior Year 2016-2017:
Fall of Junior year was interesting. I took on more leadership roles, and learned about delegating work for the first time, because it turns out you really can’t do it all alone. I created Boston Breakthrough, which would be Verge Campus’ first big annual event in Boston since the tour, that allowed our interns and emerging artists to work together in promotion and creativity to then put on a local indoor showcase. It was a success! It was also a semester that we did a flagship event with MBC and Berklee College of Music collaborating on a networking concert event and the semester I took my first visual journalism class that inspired me and drove me through the drowning of my business schoolwork, led by an extraordinary professor. So all in all, a hardworking but productive semester, only to be hit by what was to come next semester.
CORE. not the abdominal type of core, but the business program that was the gateway to your concentration. This was a course that took over your entire life. Your team project and the 4-upper level courses would be the only things you saw and talked about. It was the first time since freshman year that I felt an identity crisis because I was separated from my music world. (Also my boyfriend went abroad and I moved pretty far off campus, so loneliness was real.
So what got me through? Creating playlists on Spotify weekly, balancing the work, focusing on my goals, maintaining an entrepreneurial and creative spirit, having a professor I had from the past semester who became more of a second father figure in my life (supportive, understanding, and cool person all around), and surrounding myself with friends and family. I also knew that getting through this led me to a light at the end of the tunnel and a silver lining somewhere. I applied for the BULA abroad program, and when I got in, that was all I needed. I knew that in the summer, I would be free to dive into all of my musical pastimes and dreams, and I didn’t have anything to hold me back. Knowing those things put me at ease and having those lists to soundtrack each day also helped carry me through the days.
SUMMER 2017 – LA Abroad
SO HERE’S TO RE-DISCOVERING MYSELF AFTER LAST SEMESTER. Coming to LA was the biggest culture change after living in Massachusetts all of my life, but it was good change. It was the escape and transformation I needed. I was finally around people who understood the industry, I was in good weather, I was working at an internship that taught me so much more than I thought I could ever learn in such a short period of time, and I had my best friend and my boyfriend with me through it all. What amazing memories I made there. This thank you goes to the many mentors at Red Light Management who became my friends and people I looked up to. For every praise you gave me, I was inspired to keep working harder. You guys made me believe in me, and your support and belief in me and my abilities was more than I could have ever dreamed for. I gave my final presentation to Red Light Management with everything that I had to offer, and that was a day I would never forget. You all gave me so much to look forward to and to do, and for that I am grateful. Also, thank you to my co-interns, co-workers, new friends, and the artists I met/interviewed there who also were special people to me through those 3 months and let me be me.
At this time, I realized I had a momentum in the industry and that Senior year in Boston would bring me back to square one if I didn’t start looking for something else that would keep me sane. That’s when I applied for Sony Music U. After a long 4 part interview process and marketing assignment, I was given the position, and I honestly had never felt more pride than in that moment. It made me feel like everything I had done was worth it and brought me to this point.
It’s hard to follow a dream, because it always seems so far away, but if we don’t, we’ll never know what it’s like to live a passion. I have always loved music, and I have always been intrigued by media and current events and helping emerging artists. Working in the music industry was all I wanted, and after all that I did to give myself the necessary tools and experience to work in it, I have the chance to work at Sony Music– I now know that hard work does in fact pay off. Thank you to the mentors of Sony Music U, for giving me a chance, for believing in me. I only hope to keep making you proud!
*Keep dreaming out loud so you can make your dream happen.
*No matter how alone or how lost we feel at any given moment, remember what it is all for, what you live and dream for. Give yourself time to re-discover yourself. Once you’re there, there’s no stopping you.
Senior Year 2017-2018:
So, this is the final year. It honestly didn’t feel like it. The only difference was that everything I had worked hard for was moving more smoothly now. I was taking my concentration classes, I was still writing for Verge Campus, still running MBC, and now had the extra activity of being a part of the Sony Music U team. I got to attend the annual conference for SMU that not only opened my eyes and energized me for my dream job, but it also offered me some of the greatest connections and friendships I could have ever asked for. I finally was in my element, and I found a family I fit in with.
2018 – Semester 8 Spring:“Better With You” by Michl / “Bleach” by Brockhampton / “OTW” by Khalid, 6lack, & Ty Dolla $ign
Second semester also rolled through, and with careful planning, I was a part-time student, graduating still on time, but allowing myself more hours of the day to spend working with all of the organizations I was a part of. I developed incredible friendships in this year, both fall and spring semesters that made me sad to be graduating because I had to leave them as soon as I met them. However, I am thankful that at least I did meet them at all. I went to some of the most captivating, insane concerts and spoke with some extraordinary artists. I got to see the potential of my creativity with work, and I really got to make this semester about helping others follow their passions and spending time with my best friends.
During this process, I wrestled with the concept of grad school, but after some thought and research, I found a program that I think would improve my learning and my abilities. I applied and got in. So, now I know the next adventure to come.
Senior week took place, and it was fantastic. Graduation itself was a 3 day experience, filled with pictures, flowers, and hugging. I felt so proud and excited to be able to walk across that stage reflecting on ALL of this that you read. ALL OF THIS suddenly handed to me on just a sheet of paper. Was I nervous, nostalgic, & possibly sad? Sure. But I put myself through 4 years of growth and 4 years of doing what I could to get to where I could say, “I’m excited to be doing what I love”. I am excited to finally be given the opportunity to go into this world and make things happen.
I don’t regret anything. Everything happened for a reason, and for every decision I made, I made it because I believed in it. Don’t let doubt or fear stop you, you’ll regret that forever. Nothing’s permanent, so the question will always be “Why not?”
Exactly 2 weeks ago, I graduated from Boston University as part of the Class of 2018. It’s weird to think that this year finally came when it always seemed so far away-not anymore. We all talk about the things we learned in these past 4 years, and here’s my ultimate Lesson Learned: *Every adventure counts.
This is not goodbye. This is a thank you.
I learned I had an undeniable passion for music and the creative industry around it, I learned what values I believed in and wanted to carry on, I learned from mentors forever cherished, I learned to appreciate and love my culture, my family, I made incredible friendships, I found love, and I learned to believe in myself no matter how hard things seemed. It’s been 4 years of fighting and working really hard, but I finally come out of these past 8 semesters feeling like I know who I am, I know what I’m doing, and I know where I need to be. I will always have the skills I gained from all of my experiences. No one can take those from me. Life might take me a bunch of different ways post-grad, but right now, I’m going to stop stressing for once, going to enjoy this moment, and get ready for the next adventure.
Now, press “shuffle”.
*Another Note: THE BIGGEST THANK YOU goes to all of you who helped me find myself, helped me be here, and helped me find my shine. (And thanks for helping me finally step on a cursed BU seal without fear!)*
Of course, I would decorate my graduation cap to be a Spotify playlist. I titled it “To Be Continued” because the story will always have more to say and will always have more songs to add, no matter the journey. Now, go on yours.