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STUDENT LIFE: Strike up the Band!

Dan DiMonte has two distinctly different professional interests: music and health care.

DiMonte, who just finished his first semester at the College of Nursing, is also working toward a B.A. in Music. It’s possible that he will eventually find a way to combine these interests … perhaps via music therapy.

Dan recently took time out of his hectic schedule to talk about what inspires him, his experience at UI thus far, and where his career path might lead.

Where are you from?
New Lenox, IL, a southwest suburb of Chicago.

When (and why) did you decide you wanted to go into nursing?
Honestly, it was sort of a shot in the dark. I came to the university as a music therapy major, switched to pre-pharm, realized that wasn’t for me, and I figured nursing might be something I would enjoy.

Are there any particular areas of the nursing profession that have piqued your interest?
I currently work with special needs students as a resident assistant for the University of Iowa’s REACH program. That has always been a passion of mine, and I would like to somehow work that into my nursing profession. I have some ideas of how to do that, but I’m also keeping an open mind to other areas within the profession.

You are also going for a degree in music, correct?
Yes, a Bachelor of Arts in Music.

Why did you choose the University of Iowa to pursue your degrees?
I liked the feel of the campus when I visited. Initially, I chose Iowa because it was one of two schools that I was looking at that had a music therapy program. Once I decided that wasn’t for me, I decided I wanted to stay in a major that was related to health care. Fortunately, UI offers great programs in the health sciences, especially nursing.

How would you describe your educational experience at UI?
It’s been crazy busy when I stop and think about it. I have learned so much about so many topics. I’ve obtained a wealth of knowledge now in so many diverse areas because of my widespread involvement and studies. I definitely know a lot more about nursing, special education, jazz, liturgical music, and countless other musical areas as a direct result of attending the University of Iowa and living in Iowa City. I am officially four years into my education, and with only one more to go, I cannot help but reflect on my experiences at UI and think about how much I have grown. I owe it all to the university, some exceptional faculty I have known, my church family at the Newman Catholic Student Center, my residents, my bosses, my bandmates and bandleaders, my mentors, and my loving friends and family, who put up with all of the craziness throughout my college career.

Do you see yourself wanting to further your education and go for a graduate degree (in either field)?
Possibly, but I would like to work in both fields for a while.

How long have you been a musician & singer?
I started playing trumpet in 4th grade, so I have been a musician for 13 years. I picked up piano lessons in junior high, taught myself guitar as a New Year’s resolution sophomore year of high school, and started my serious singing career around my senior year of high school. Various other instruments such as the ukulele, drums, bass, organ, and random percussion instruments have been picked up along the way.

You are part of the choir at UI’s Newman Center. Do you perform anywhere else?
I was a part of the Newman Singers all of my freshman and sophomore years. Now, I perform with the group at select events and services on trumpet, guitar, voice, and percussion. My main gig at the Newman Center is a music group that I lead. We provide music for Thursday night mass and Saturday afternoon mass. Besides church music, I have been involved with the jazz department the entire time I’ve been at Iowa. I’ve played in various big bands and world music ensembles. I also play shows in Iowa City (solo or with a band) and I do the Mill’s “Open Mike” nights and have also played at places like the Java House. Plus, I have a band back home with my brother and some friends. We play original music and covers in the Chicagoland and Northwest Indiana area. The life of a musician is a busy one!

Describe how you manage your time/workload during an average week? (e.g., juggling music, your studies, and the rest of what life throws your way)
Well, the coffee maker I bought last semester and I have formed an amazing partnership. Historically, I have struggled with procrastination and time management, but starting nursing school this past semester and being involved in all of these other activities really made me get my schedule management act together. I use my planner and my fancy smartphone to remember due dates and important events. Also, I try to get things done early if I know I have a gig coming up on the weekend or have to be on duty for REACH. Developing these organizational skills has helped immensely, and they will make next semester a lot more manageable.

Do you have any other hobbies or interests?
I started running last spring, and it has become a great stress reliever. If someone would have asked me to run a mile any time before last spring, I probably would have laughed and stayed on my couch. Now, I run two miles a day. I also ran in the River Run 5K with some friends last spring.

Another big passion of mine is writing and recording music. I spent a lot of time during our winter break recording some music I wrote over the last few years with some equipment I have at home. When I finish a song and hear the music for the first time, it is unlike any other feeling. I have so many songs that just swirl around in my head, and to have the ability to share this music with people is amazing, whether it be through recordings or live performances.

Where do you see yourself five years from now?
Five years from now, I see myself working as a nurse of some kind in a city with a great music scene. How well-known I am in that music scene will depend on some luck. I am not entirely sure where my life is going in these next few years, but I have some great ideas. Regardless of whether or not these ideas pan out, I seek to keep constant the love I have for my family and friends. In my opinion, the way in which one treats others is the most important part of life.

Posted On: 
Jan 14th, 2013