Derek Wallace Lands Prestigious Kennedy Center Internship

Dec 6, 2013

by Cary McMullen | Publications Editor

It’s a pretty big step from taking classes in music management to running a show every week at one of the most prestigious arts organizations in the country. Derek Wallace admits that the prospect gives him pause.

“I’m not going to lie. Sometimes it seems intimidating,” he says. But then his characteristic confidence returns. “I feel like I can handle it. If they hadn’t seen something in me to begin with, I wouldn’t have gotten the internship.”

Wallace, a senior music management major, received a 4½-month internship with The Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., beginning in January. The center is a mecca for the performing arts in the Northeast, hosting performances in theater, dance, jazz, and popular and classical music. Wallace will join about 30 other interns, most of whom are graduate students from elite colleges and universities.

He has been assigned to the staff of the Millennium Stage at the Kennedy Center. It is a program that offers free performances to the public every evening, 365 days a year. The performances encompass the whole range of the performing arts. On the Millennium Stage recently were musicians performing classical Indian ragas, handbell chorales, a salsa dance troupe, the American Youth Philharmonic Orchestra, and the New York Klezmer Allstars.

“The whole point is to give everyone an opportunity to experience the arts in some shape,” Wallace says.

His responsibilities will include assisting in the production and logistics of the performances, researching and recruiting new acts, and social media publicity. He has been told that every Friday, he will be in charge of running the show.

“It’s a heavy burden, but there are so many opportunities,” Wallace says.

He is the second Florida Southern student to receive a Kennedy Center internship. Two years ago, Chelsea Walsh ’12 also spent a semester as an intern at the center. Wallace believes Florida Southern’s small size allows students to hold multiple leadership roles and create impressive resumes. He was vice president of the Music and Entertainment Industry Student Association at FSC, president of the campus chapter of Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia, and vice president of the honor society Omicron Delta Kappa.

“In large schools, there are fewer opportunities. If I were at a big school, I’d be up against hundreds of students for those roles,” he says.

He gives credit to Career Center Director Xuchitl Coso and her staff for helping to prepare his applications for the internship.

“The Career Center is an extraordinary tool for students. It really helped me,” he says.

Adjunct instructor Paul Butcher, who had Wallace as a student in music management classes, says Wallace is always willing to learn.

“Derek is smart, humble, and self-motivated. He is willing to take risks, is willing to ask questions to further his understanding of subject matter and is a good listener. He is very consistent in his demeanor which is always positive. These qualities combined make him a terrific leader. I have a lot of respect for Derek as a student and as a person,” Butcher says.

Wallace will take a week off of his internship to graduate in May. He is pondering his career options but is drawn to venue management, having been involved in numerous musical theater performances.

“I’ve been around large theaters a lot. It’s what I’d like to do on a daily basis. I might possibly go to law school someday and get into entertainment law, but I prefer to be out front, talking to people,” he says.