On May 11, members of Berklee Online’s class of 2024 will gather in Boston to take part in this year’s Commencement ceremony, alongside their Berklee campus peers. Each year this milestone brings together Berklee Online students from around the world for a weekend of celebration among graduates, instructors, advisors, and family and friends. Commencement represents not only the culmination of years of hard work, but also the tenacity that defines Berklee Online’s global community. Read the inspiring stories of six Berklee Online graduates who reflect on their experiences and share what’s in store for their futures. 

Ashley Aunor 

Entertainment runs in the family for Ashley Aunor, an award-winning artist, producer, film composer, and DJ from the Philippines. Her mom, Maribel Lala Aunor, was a teen star in the ’70s, and her aunt, Nora Aunor, has been conferred as a National Artist of the Philippines. Ashley released her first album at the age of five and was on track to follow in her family’s footsteps, but she took the advice of a teacher who encouraged her to enjoy her childhood and finish out school. 

An artistic photo of Ashley Aunor standing in front of a glowing vending machine with rubik's cubes in their hair, on their jacket, and on earrings.
Berklee Online graduate Ashley Aunor, whose artist name is Cool Cat Ash.

“When I think back, I’m okay with this route because I think I wouldn’t have been able to become a music producer without that huge pause from childhood to college,” says Ashley. “I think I would’ve been a singer, and then I don’t know where I would go from there. I wouldn’t even know what a music producer was, probably. So yeah, I’m just happy that I’m here.”

A graduate of Berklee Online’s Music Production bachelor’s degree program, Ashley has fulfilled the promise to herself about completing her schooling, and is taking advantage of all the opportunities that are coming her way. This includes a record deal with AWAL and Star Music for her project Cool Cat Ash, which she’s hoping will bring her music to international audiences. 

She’s also continuing to expand her roster of clients as co-founder of Aunorable Productions with her sister Marion Aunor, who also has a multifaceted music and acting career. They do everything from songwriting to producing, arranging, mixing and mastering, and film scoring.

Ashley Aunor (left) and her sister Marion Aunor (right) in front of a black backdrop.
Ashley (left) and her sister Marion (right) are the co-owners of Aunorable Productions.

 “I don’t think I would’ve been able to even put up the company with my sister,” she says, “or even become a music producer and work as a music producer without the knowledge that I’ve attained from my classes.”

Bob Corson 

In 2022, Bob Corson from Ottawa, Canada, was starting to think about retiring from his career in cybersecurity, when he discovered Berklee Online. He enrolled in a few guitar courses, just to see if he liked it. After one semester, he began Berklee Online’s Guitar Performance bachelor’s degree program and stepped back from his full-time job. Now Bob is graduating from Berklee Online, but his pursuit of music education isn’t stopping anytime soon. 

Guitar Performance graduate Bob Corson playing guitar in a warehouse with barrels in the background.
Guitar Performance graduate Bob Corson.

“I’m really hungry to continue to learn,” says Bob. “I swore I was going to be a professional musician, and then life took turns. So to propel myself forward a little bit towards that item on the bucket list and still wanting to learn, I think that that’s my takeaway.”

Bob recently became the lead guitarist for the band Zooloo and the Seaweeds, where he’s working on recording their next album and planning a US tour. 

Bob Corson with the three other members of the band Zooloo and the Seaweeds.
Bob Corson (second from right) with the band Zooloo and the Seaweeds.

He will be attending Commencement with his wife, daughter, and her boyfriend there to cheer him on. Bob says he hopes to meet as many classmates and professors as possible, including his private guitar instructor, Bruce Bartlett

“I’m already starting to reach out to people and see if we can meet in person,” says Bob. “And my reason for that is I want to express my gratitude verbally and in person. It’s just been an awesome experience.”

Avalon Reed 

Avalon Reed first enrolled in Berklee Online’s Songwriting and Producing Music bachelor’s degree program as she was transitioning out of the US Marine Corps. From 2017-2021, she played flute in the Marine Corps Band. Avalon decided to enroll at Berklee Online to learn how to turn the voice memos in her phone and lyrics in her journal into recorded music, a talent that came to the forefront during eight months of bootcamp. 

Avalon Reed playing flute with the Marine Corps Band.
Avalon Reed playing flute with the Marine Corps Band.

“The only thing that really got me through it was Sundays when I would go to church and sing,” says Avalon. “I realized that through all that time, I was always singing or I would always be writing songs. So when I saw that the songwriting and the music production course was an option, I immediately was like, ‘This is something I want to do because I want to do something more with my songs than have them just sitting in a journal somewhere.’”

Berklee Online graduate Avalon Reed playing guitar.
Berklee Online graduate Avalon Reed playing guitar.

One of the twists in Avalon’s Berklee Online journey happened when she took the Music Publishing 101 course with Thomas Valentino, Esq. as part of her program requirements and discovered a fascination with copyright law. Leading up to Berklee Commencement, Avalon is studying to take her LSATs with hopes of attending Vanderbilt Law School. 

“It is a lot of information,” she says. “The cool thing is I stayed in touch with professor Valentino. So at the end of the semester, he gave us his email and he told us, ‘If you need anything, don’t be afraid to reach out.’ So he was the first one I reached out to and I asked for recommendations on how to prepare for the LSATs, so he’s been a great source of information.”

Jaymee Senigaglia 

Graduating Berklee Online’s Music Business bachelor’s degree program represents an array of accomplishments for Jaymee Senigaglia. What started as a project for her coursework, turned into a successful launch of her own youth theater program: Stage Presence Performing Arts Studio in the Bay Area. Jaymee employs 18 total staff members, two of which are Berklee students. 

A headshot of Berklee Online graduate Jaymee Senigaglia with a pink backdrop.
Berklee Online graduate Jaymee Senigaglia

“We’re just trying to create a more inclusive, diverse, and kind space for kids,” she says, about her studio. “I launched the program last summer and I couldn’t believe it was profitable, so we immediately planned the next one as soon as that one ended. And then in the middle of all of this, I actually got hired to do a school show. And so as I was writing my capstone, I was dealing with the scenarios in real time.”

The success didn’t come without struggle for Jaymee, who went through a divorce, a health crisis, and loss of income due to Covid during her time in the program. But now Jaymee is graduating Berklee as a mom of two, a bride-to-be this summer, and a profitable business owner. In fact, her next order of business is producing and vocal directing a production of Willy Wonka Jr.

Jaymee holding her then one-year-old son on her hip, with a microphone in the other hand, giving a welcome speech onstage during her production of Mean Girls Jr.
Jaymee holding her then one-year-old son while giving a welcome speech during her production of Mean Girls Jr.

“There are so many things that feel good about this degree to me, besides being done with it, but I really feel deeply, there’s no more story of failure as a single mom who’s trying to figure it out,” says Jaymee. “I am not trying to figure it out anymore. I know. And I just feel more confident and more secure financially and with who I am.”

Jimmy Mowery 

Jimmy Mowery from Altoona, PA, first started his bachelor’s degree program with Berklee Online in 2018, but that wasn’t the only exciting thing happening at that time. In the first year of his coursework, he was invited to audition for season 16 of The Voice, with judges Kelly Clarkson, John Legend, Adam Levine, and Blake Shelton. Jimmy sang “Attention” by Berklee alum Charlie Puth, and Levine pressed his button before Mowery had even sang two lines, and Legend pressed his button about halfway through the performance. Mowery chose team Adam. 

“No matter what, it was going to be Adam, just because I was such a big Maroon 5 fan growing up,” says Jimmy. “I just wanted to be able to pick his brain and try to learn from him. He could see how nervous I was, and it was a little off-camera thing, but he gave me a hug, and he was like, ‘I know you’re nervous, but you belong here just like everybody else does.’”

Jimmy Mowery performing on season 16 of The Voice with a cheering audience.
Jimmy Mowery performing on season 16 of The Voice.

Not only did Jimmy work with Levine, but he was coached by Puth during the battle rounds of the show, where the judges pit two members of their team against each other. 

“One of the first things I said was, ‘Dude, I’m in Berklee right now,’ and I told him that he was one of the main reasons why I enrolled,” says Jimmy. “He was like, ‘That’s so cool!’” 

Jimmy will be walking at this year’s Berklee Commencement for earning his bachelor’s degree in Songwriting. His post-graduation plans include buying a home with his wife, building his own studio, and recording his demos.

“I’ve loved how much Berklee has helped me be more consistent with songwriting because before that, it was more like a chore,” he says. “It’s made me a much better songwriter, just learning the formulas and ins and outs of everything. I’m really proud of just how far I’ve come with my writing.”

Breanna Dickerson

Breanna Dickerson's headshot with a gray backdrop.
Berklee Online graduate Breanna Dickerson

Breanna Dickerson is another member of Berklee Online’s class of 2024 who has experienced the thrill of auditioning for a popular music competition. A graduate of the Music Business degree program, Breanna auditioned for America’s Got Talent in 2019, and this experience made way for an internship at Universal Music Group, rebranding her award-winning hip-hip duo, F.L.O.G.I.C., and more.

Read all about Breanna Dickerson’s inspiring story

 Published April 24, 2024