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Grad nurtures passions for music AND marketing in Hawaii

As the director of marketing at Hawaii Symphony Orchestra, Martha Seroogy is continuing to nurture the AND she discovered during her years on UW-Eau Claire's campus — she is a marketer AND musician.

Martha, who graduated in 2009 with a communications degree and a minor in music, says the varied and meaningful experiences she found at UW-Eau Claire provided her with a strong foundation that has allowed her to build a successful career and happy life. Her work as a student intern for the Eau Claire Jazz Festival was especially meaningful since it was through that experience that she learned to combine her communications talents and her passion for music. 

Martha took a few minutes this spring to reflect on her professional journey, as well as how her journey has been shaped by being a Blugold.  

What have you been up to since graduating from UW-Eau Claire?

My first job out of college was as communications director of Eau Claire Jazz Inc. It was a part-time contract so I also worked for the Chippewa Valley Youth Symphony, Chippewa Valley Symphony and I had a short stint with Bon Iver and Amble Down Records. I really did anything I could do to stay involved with the arts and marketing. After a few years, my husband and I moved to St. Louis, where I took a completely different route when I got a job making websites for Anheuser-Busch. I play viola so I joined the St. Louis Philharmonic to stay involved with music. We stayed in St. Louis for two years. In January 2014, we moved to Hawaii. We currently live in Honolulu, where I work as the director of marketing for the Hawaii Symphony Orchestra. It's the perfect fit for me — and I still play viola in other orchestras on Maui.

What did you do as a Jazz Fest intern?

My junior and senior year I served as the student festival director. This was before Eau Claire Jazz Inc. formed and before 52nd Street, so it was just the three-day educational festival. I managed a 15-member staff of other student interns to coordinate the whole event. I helped to recruit and schedule the 100 regional bands that participated, managed the marketing, coordinated the production team and arranged travel logistics for the guest artists and adjudicators. There was more to it than that, but if I went into every detail we would be here for days! 

How did those experiences help prepare you for your current position? 

My experiences in the jazz program set me up for success. It was perfect timing, too. My junior year, I was learning in class how to write a press release and create a marketing campaign, and then I actually got to apply those skills in real life. By the time I graduated, I had a portfolio that didn't just include my classwork and capstone project, but also press releases that were actually distributed to real people in the media and articles that were written as a result. I got to write copy for print ads, create direct mail pieces, and I even did a few TV and radio interviews. I can't urge students enough to get involved with Jazz Fest or other activities. Don't just do it so you can add it to your resume or get the college credit —do it for the experience. Dig in and do as much as you can because when you graduate, it's competitive. The more experience and references you have the better. I would not have the job I have today if I didn't get involved with the jazz program.

What's your most memorable experience from your time at UWEC?  

I have so many memorable experiences with friends, but speaking professionally, the most impactful experience I had was absolutely with the Eau Claire Jazz Festival. I was never the most outgoing person growing up, and when I fell into a leadership role with the Jazz Festival it helped me to realize what I'm capable of. I never saw myself as a leader, but I was given an opportunity to lead a group of people —and it was fun. I pulled it off and I learned a lot.