by KATE LEMMON
Second-year MM Flute
“Did you forget your ID again?” Jake Scanlan teases me as I pop into the security desk at Jordan Hall. Admittedly, this definitely wouldn’t be my first offense! I’m notorious amongst the security guards for giving them a hard time. Some of you might recall Todd’s Penguin interview from a year ago, an event which has become infamous with the other guards (at least I made up for it by bringing him Dunkin’!) This past week, I went back on the offensive to interview three more of the great officers that comprise NEC’s security force.
Ever since kindergarten, Jake has wanted to become a police officer. “I used to draw myself in a police uniform in a childhood sketchbook,” he laughingly recalls. Although he works 40 hours a week at Jordan Hall along with the other dedicated members of NEC’s team, Jake still holds onto his childhood dream of joining the police force. A native of the popular music student residence Jamaica Plain, Jake majored in criminal justice and then began supporting himself through security work. Working for NEC security serves as the perfect middle ground between school and his long-term career goals, and the experience he’s gained will help him when it comes time to take his police test.
Jake isn’t the only NEC security officer pursuing larger career goals. In fact, of the three daytime officers I interviewed, all of them were either currently full-time students or recent graduates. 24-year-old Easton native Mike McGuire previously served in the military as a member of the Marine Corps. Wanting to finish his education, he searched for a job that would allow him to complete his schoolwork while earning an income. After three years of service to NEC, next month he’ll graduate from U Mass Boston with a degree in criminal justice and political science. How did he do it? “I rely on caffeine!” Mike confesses. “The Bistro offers us free coffee, and I visit about eleven times a day!” (Jake shares his addiction—I spy a Dunkin’ Perks card sitting behind the Jordan Hall security desk.)
St. Botolph officer Chris Brady (just call him Tom Brady!) shares Jake and Mike’s interests– in 2012, he graduated from Suffolk University with a degree in history and (you guessed it!) criminal justice. “Although I enjoy my job,” says Chris, “I’d like to teach history after I move on from NEC.” As if he wasn’t busy enough with school and work, he also finds time to help his brother build a home, and word on the street is that he’s also a stand-up comedian.
Apart from their own diverse interests, these three officers also offer insight into the unique culture of NEC. “On-the-job experience” sounds like such a resume catchphrase, but the words take on a whole new meaning at a music conservatory. The three guards agree that NEC students are a bit of a “different breed.”
“When I first arrived at NEC, I noticed that the students here act a bit differently than students at my school,” recalls Mike. “They’re definitely hard-working; it’s not like a typical college where kids are just looking forward to the weekend and going to parties. A lot of the students camp out in practice rooms all weekend long, which I can admire.” He has also observed that in general, NEC students have more extroverted personalities. “You guys aren’t afraid to talk to people,” he remarks, attributing our outgoing personalities to the fact that we’re used to performing on a regular basis. “The constant singing in the dorms also caught me off-guard at first,” he admits (no pun intended!) “Students are singing all the time! In the stairwells, in the bathrooms, you name it!” He has even caught students playing instruments in the bathroom when they couldn’t find a practice room. Jake agrees with most of Mike’s comments, adding that NEC students are always in a rush—“They always have places to go!”
Although he can’t speak to the party scene in the dorms because he doesn’t work the night shift, Mike tells me that crazy things happen in the daytime too. “Sometimes students get locked out of their rooms while taking a shower, and they come down to the lobby in towels so that we can let them back into their rooms.” He also witnesses students at their most clumsy moments. “This year alone, I’ve seen five people walk into those windows,” he laughs as he points to the glass doors at the main entrance of the dorms. (Editor’s confession: one of them was me!)
Chris offers a bit of a different perspective on NEC students since the St. Botolph building primarily houses the opera and jazz departments. Having previously worked as a security guard on a movie set, Chris shares that the NEC scene is much less pretentious. “When students walk in the door, they seem just like normal kids— the people here are really friendly.” When he’s not greeting people at the door or playing Solitaire to stay alert on the job, he sometimes strolls by classrooms and studios to listen to rehearsals. “The students here sound absolutely incredible!” As an added testament to the unique community spirit of our school, Jake shares that he was approached by an NEC professor who offered him a free class about music and mathematics.
During our interview, I realize that I’ve been in front of the Jordan Hall security desk so many times, but this is my first time sitting behind it, and I’m quite fascinated by the view. In the span of just five minutes, I watch dozens of students and professors scan in, and then scurry in all different directions. One cellist tries to sneak past the security desk without scanning an ID, and seems particularly satisfied with himself for “getting away with it.” In reality, Jake sees everything, but he chooses to go easy on students that have a previously good track record. “We try to cut you guys some slack if we recognize you and it’s not an everyday thing,” he says. However, he says checking IDs allows guards to protect not only students’ safety, but also the coveted NEC practice rooms. “We catch a lot of Berklee kids trying to sneak in to use NEC’s practice space!”
Dean Hegland, who works in the Office of Student Services in the St. Botolph building, has joined the NEC security fan club. When she had to have unfortunately-timed knee surgery in March, she suddenly found her commute to school much more difficult. Although Boston isn’t the easiest city to traverse on crutches, Hegland finds herself smiling when she arrives at school every morning. “The security guard at St. Botolph [Chris] is an absolute sweetheart,” she says with a grateful heart. “He holds the doors for me every day and always has a smile on his face!”
With three 24-year-old guys, I can’t help but wonder if the guards hang out with each other when they’re off the clock. “We work hard, so we’re usually exhausted at the end of our shifts and head straight home,” says Brady. Scanlan jokes, “If we ever go out for drinks one of these days, I’ll make sure to ask the guys to see their ID first!”