Mark Walker, is a Grammy award-winning drummer, a professor in the Percussion department at Berklee College of Music, and an instructor of Afro-Cuban Drums at Berklee Online. And after this weekend, he’ll also be a Berklee Online graduate.

After high school, Mark took a gap year. This ended up being a 35-year gap year. That ended when Mark’s friend, Debbie Cavalier, encouraged him to start taking classes at Berklee Online. Cavalier, incidentally, is not just any friend. She’s the Senior Vice President Online Learning & Continuing Education at Berklee Online. At first, Mark wasn’t sure he could do it. He was taking three classes at once while traveling. Yet, he focused on the coursework while at the airport and it showed him that he could actually do it.

“The fact that it is flexible and I don’t need to be there at a certain time, that’s been great,” he says. “That’s probably why I haven’t gone to school all these years because I was traveling so much. I’ve submitted assignments from a flight in Japan.”

Studying at Berklee Online allowed Mark to explore new areas. Majoring in Interdisciplinary Music Studies, he studied topics such as music production, composition, and songwriting.

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“One thing that really surprised me was the songwriting courses,” he says. “I’m a jazz musician and never thought I’d be writing songs.”

He has written so many songs, in fact, that he made an album of them: His new release, You Get What You Give began life as a capstone project for school. For the project, he created a business plan for the release and marketing of the album. He self-produced the album and recorded it all at Berklee College of Music.

“I would highly recommend Berklee Online to anyone who wants to learn about any aspect of the music industry,” he says.