Shifting in the face of immediate shutdown
Friday the 13th was a really crappy day for Aaron Dimatulac. He was leaving L.A. in a hurry. Aaron was in such a rush, he found himself at the wrong airport for his flight back to Missouri. It had been a whirlwind 24 hours.
Like so many people whose lives were interrupted at the start of the Coronavirus pandemic, Aaron suddenly found himself scrambling as his industry closed for the foreseeable future. Since 2015, Aaron has worked worked his way up the ranks as a touring professional, working with live concerts in the US, Canada, UK, and Europe. He has managed tours in the US, UK, and Europe. Just the day before, he had been rehearsing with his team ahead of a three-week music tour throughout Canada, ending in Chicago. Then, news came that major music festivals and tours all announced their respective cancellations. Rehearsal halted. By the next day, the tour had been cancelled and Aaron was on his way back home.
Networking led to a new direction
Aaron started at MSU as a cell and molecular biology major. He quickly decided that wasn’t for him. An accomplished musician, he next considered becoming a music teacher. After seeing a sidewalk-chalked advertisement for an Entertainment Management Association meeting, he went to his first EMA meeting. There, he met entertainment management professor, Dr. Rothschild.
“The department head was really nice, the people were really nice, and I was hooked.” He switched his major to entertainment management. Soon, he was networking and building professional connections. He was hired as an intern for an artist management company. The internship led to a job opportunity, working with a band on the Vans Warped Tour. Presented with an amazing job opportunity, Aaron decided to leave school. He managed merch for a Canadian acoustic artist as a part of the major US touring festival. Over the course of that summer he toured for 8 weeks to cities including Los Angeles, Chicago, New York, and Dallas, to name a few.
“Networking and connecting with people led to more and more jobs.” He worked for the Warped Tour again in 2017 and 2018, moving up each time. Since then, he’s managed tours across the U.S., the U.K. and Europe. He was preparing for his next U.S. tour when COVID-19 suddenly shut down the entertainment industry, and he found himself on a plane home.
Committing to leveling up
“I played video games for a month straight.”
After a series of entertainment industry town halls, he kept hearing a prevailing sentiment: use the time while the industry is closed to learn.
After a solid month of gaming, the thought struck him “Let’s level up.” So Aaron, who left Missouri State before completing his degree, decided to return to MSU online classes to finish.
A former college roommate sent him an email advertising the Return to Finish Scholarship. The Return to Finish Scholarship is designed to support the re-entry of students, ready to finish the last requirements of their degree.
Aaron was surprised to discover he was almost 90% of the way to earning his degree. With no work on the horizon, it seemed like the perfect time to resume his degree. He started in the summer semester and has a few more classes in the fall. He’s on track to graduate in December. While he’s been home, he’s gotten into Esports and taught himself how to use a drone. Not content to just take on new hobbies, Aaron is keen to the industry. ESports and drone racing are strongly emerging entertainment markets. He’s laser-focused on honing his skills so that when the entertainment industry reopens, he’s poised to rise to the next level. He’s set his sights on managing tours at the amphitheater and arena level.
The scholarship has allowed him a sense of security as he finishes his degree. Knowing that some of the financial burden has been lifted, he’s more confident in his ability to cross the finish line.
“Its given me more drive to finish.”
Spring 2021 Update — Graduation leads to another “level up”
You can find Aaron on LinkedIn at Aaron Dimatulac.
The Return to Finish scholarship offers $200 for students enrolling in 3-5 credits and $500 for those enrolling in 6 or more credits in fall 2020 or spring 2021. Students can receive the scholarship for multiple semesters, but the maximum award for the academic year is $500.
Are you eligible for the Return to Finish Scholarship?
- 90+ hours of undergraduate credit
- 2.0 or higher GPA
- Owe less than $1000 to the university
- Have been out of school at least one year (most recent enrollment, Spring 2019 or earlier)
Comply with residence requirements. 20 out of the last 30 hours in courses must be administered by the Springfield campus.
Your credits may be from another institution before, during, or after leaving MSU.
We’re here to support you
- Receive one-on-one advisement in your academic field. Adult Student Services is available to answer your questions.
- Take advantage of tutoring/writing services provided by Bear CLAW (Center for Learning and Writing).
- Utilize MSU’s Career Center where you will gain access to Handshake, an online career management system.
- Graduate and network with over 110,000 Bears as part of the Alumni Association.
For questions regarding RTF and returning to Missouri State, contact:
Adult Student Services
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