A Life-Altering Experience

John Paciga, Yale University
Major: Music and Psychology 
Expected Graduation Year: 2023

How did you hear about the RSF internship? 
I found out about the internship by searching for opportunities online. Growing up, my family always watched American Idol together, so naturally, we were all big fans of Ryan Seacrest. When I came across the RSF website, I was immediately drawn to the foundation’s incredible mission, and here we are today.

You accepted your duties during a global pandemic. How have you navigated the virtual internship experience? 
Doing the internship virtually has honestly been a blessing in disguise. It has allowed me to continue working with the studio even in the midst of my sixth semester at Yale, and I’ve been a part of the team for even longer than we originally planned! Zoom fatigue can be a challenging hurdle to overcome, especially because all of my classes are online, but helping out with the studio’s various shows is a welcome break from the normal academic week.

What has been your favorite part of the internship? 
My favorite part of the internship has been meeting and working with everyone in the studio! They are truly some of the kindest people I have ever met, and all of our friends at Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt are so lucky to have them. We’ve had so many wonderful laughs and memorable moments together over the last four months, and even though we’re miles apart, I’m honored to call them my close friends. 

What about a favorite moment? 
Back in December, we had a virtual visit with rising country star Jimmie Allen. During the visit, I unmuted my microphone to chat with Jimmie and ask him a few questions. I mentioned that I was a songwriter and had released a lot of my original music, and on the spot, Jimmie looked me up on Spotify and shared one of my songs on his Instagram story! 

Tell us about your show!
Every Friday afternoon, I host my own show for the studio! Typically, I like to perform three different songs (hence the name “3 Song Friday”) and play either "Name That Tune", music trivia or "Finish the Lyric". In the midst of the pandemic, it’s been a joy to have the opportunity to perform live music—both covers and originals—right from the comfort of my own apartment. 

What challenges have you had in juggling your internship with classes and extracurricular activities?
Beyond my internship at Seacrest Studios Nashville, I’ve been busy recording an album for my a cappella group, the Yale Spizzwinks, and writing new music for a songwriting class. Sometimes, I feel like I have a lot of my plate, but I always do my best to make time for the things I love. As long as you’re doing what makes you happy and fulfilled, being busy can be a great thing.

If you could tell other students about interning at Seacrest Studios, what would you tell them? 
Interning at Seacrest Studios Nashville has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. Watching patients’ faces light up when they get to say hi to their favorite celebrity, or hearing them call into the studio during craft shows, bubbling with excitement, is priceless. I’m grateful for the opportunity to share my own music with the Vanderbilt Children's community and bring a little extra joy to those who need it the most. If you’re passionate about making an impact in other people’s lives through an engaging multimedia experience, this is the internship for you.

What do you hope to do when you graduate from college? 
After college, I hope to continue writing music and pursuing a career as a musician and recording artist. For now, I’m planning on taking a gap year because I’ve been elected the new music director of the Whiffenpoofs, Yale’s premier all-senior a cappella group! As vaccines roll out and COVID-19 restrictions are lifted, we’re hopeful that we’ll be able to travel all over the world with our music next year.