Mollica Conducts World of Music, Medicine and Management
For Gino Mollica driving an ambulance is a lot like time management and balancing responsibilities: You may not be able to have two hands on the wheel, but you have your eye on everything.
A rising senior in Carnegie Mellon University's School of Music, Mollica will spend this year completing his vocal performance major and beginning the accelerated Master of Arts Management program. In addition, he is an emergency medical technician for the Monroeville Fire Department Co. No. 1 and a volunteer with the CMU Emergency Medical Services student organization.
As an EMT, Mollica is often one of the first people on the scene. As part of CMU-EMS, he said there have been times when he's had to leave in the middle of a class for a call.
"You just talk to the professor beforehand and sometimes I have to quietly leave and then return," Mollica said.
DJ Lesh, equipment manager for CMU-EMS, and a rising sophomore in the School of Drama, was encouraged by Mollica to consider working with the Monroeville Fire Department.
"At the very end of the school year I came out for a weekend to ride along and at the end of that weekend got accepted as a probationary member in May," Lesh said. "As [Fine Arts] students we don't have a lot of time to do other things, however, Monroeville offers a very flexible schedule and a great atmosphere to learn in."
Both Lesh and Mollica started at Monroeville as volunteers, but Mollica recently started working as a paid staff member as well.
Mollica's typical day, which in some cases may last 36 hours, might involve emergency response calls, attending classes and opera rehearsals. He also fills in as an organist in his hometown of Uniontown, Pennsylvania, and is president of the School of Music Student Advisory Board.
While in high school, Mollica studied with Daniel Teadt, an assistant teaching professor of voice at Carnegie Mellon. "I always put academics first," Mollica said. "That's what I'm doing going into my master's level classes this fall. I'm fully aware that might mean I might have to take a step back for a hot second to get started, and then I can start filling my schedule again."
"I was super interested in the conservatory style within the university. I decided once I got to high school I wanted to go into music." said Mollica, who had been considering pursuing a business degree. "I never wanted to give up that business side of things. But I knew Carnegie Mellon had a business school, and that I might be able to do a little bit of marketing while studying music."
This past year, Mollica was cast in the School of Music operas as Basilio in "Le Nozze di Figaro" and Kurt Weill's "Berlin to Broadway." Earlier this summer he worked as a box office intern for the Spoleto Festival in Charleston, South Carolina.
Teadt calls Mollica a gifted artist and a grounded and motivational leader.
"Gino's maturity belies his age," Teadt said. "He is a born leader with ideas that will help make the arts administration world a more enjoyable place to work."
Through the student advisory board, Mollica has made tangible changes for students, including updates and added amenities in practice rooms. Items such as mirrors, water bottle stations and new music stands help enhance the student experience.
"Gino has become a creative and innovative student liaison between students and faculty in CFA," Teadt said.
Teadt and Mollica's adviser, Sharon Johnston, recommended he consider Carnegie Mellon's Master of Arts Management program. The accelerated program means Mollica can begin taking courses his senior year and complete his master's degree a year early.
MAM is a joint program that combines the interdisciplinary and creative power of Carnegie Mellon's College of Fine Arts and its Heinz College of Information Systems and Public Policy. Graduates are positioned to become arts managers with the training to lead organizations and have lasting impact in their communities.
Mollica already has begun to dive into the field of arts management as the executive producer of Piano Day Pittsburgh. Piano Day is an all-volunteer event that celebrates Pittsburgh's cultural history through pianos. Several grand pianos will be stationed in outdoor spaces in downtown Pittsburgh and performers will playing on a traveling piano. This year's event will take place Aug. 24-25.
"We have performers of all ages," Mollica said. "It's some of Pittsburgh's best talent and also amateurs for whom it might be their first public performance. When else could a 6-year-old have an opportunity to sit at a 9-foot piano and play a piece they've been working on?"