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Remembering Steve Jobs and His Impact on the Berklee Community

A woman lights a candle at the Apple store on Boylston Street in memory of Steve Jobs the night of his passing.

I was in a Berklee practice room when Steve Jobs passed away. I didn’t hear the news until I returned home, but no sooner had I put down my book bag did I sling my camera purse over my shoulder en route to the Apple Store on Boylston.

Of course, as a photographer, I wanted to go over to the Apple Store as soon as possible to get pictures of what I knew would be a memorial at the largest Apple Store in North America. But I made a stop to pick up flowers first, since it was more meaningful for me to take part in the experience than document it.

Ever since our first PowerBooks in 2005, my brother and I have watched Steve Jobs’ keynotes with rapt attention. Every Mac World, Mac Developer Conference, or individual product announcement was treated like a holiday in my house, our excitement akin to child’s impatience to open presents on Christmas morning. What “beautiful” or “stunning” design will Steve unveil this time? What are the latest, crazy numbers for iTunes and the iPod? Will it be a product that everyone has been talking about or a complete surprise that Apple has been able to keep secret? And most importantly, will there be “One More Thing?”

All the times my brother and I spent watching Steve Jobs’ keynotes, analyzing his replies to customer emails, and reading his interviews made the Apple founder feel like a larger-than-life personality, but also someone we could relate to. Someone close. And after seeing the incredible out-pouring of love at the Boylston Apple Store, and at Apple Stores around the country, I’m guessing my brother and I aren’t the only ones who felt a deep connection to Steve Jobs.

But like many Berklee students, I also feel a strong connection to Steve Jobs and the Apple brand because of all the Apple hardware and software that facilitates my creativity. Had it not been for the inclusion of Garageband in the iLife suite on every Apple computer, my parents would have bought me a much cheaper computer for my first laptop in 2005. But instead, my parents realized that buying a PowerBook was more than a computer – it was an investment in my musical development. And that’s why hundreds of people laid flowers, candles, apples, and personal letters at the front of a retail store for a company’s founder – Steve Jobs succeeded in making Apple more than just another soul-less technology brand, but a personal one. And without Apple products, Berklee students would be without the greatest tool in our creative arsenal. 

The memorial for Steve Jobs outside the Boylston Apple Store on Sunday, October 9, 2011

And that’s why it’s no surprise that Berklee College of Music and Apple are intrinsically connected. The cornucopia of apple products one could see at Berklee, from the mandatory MacBook Pros for all students, to the high prevalence of iPhones and iPods (and even the rare iPad), is just a small piece of Apple’s presence on campus. Looking deeper, even the core of Berklee’s curriculum involves training on a whole host of Apple software, including Garageband and Logic Pro.

But I think Berklee has an even stronger connection to Apple than simply the products that Steve Jobs engineered, but the ethos of Steve Jobs himself.

In Steve Jobs’ commencement address at Stanford University in 2005, which gained a new-found popularity shortly after his death, he encourages students to “Stay hungry, stay foolish,” advice which could not be more applicable to the students at Berklee.

Berklee has a storied history of successful drop-outs (John Mayer, Melissa Etheridge, Gavin DeGraw, Quincy Jones, etc.) who, like Steve Jobs, had a passion that school couldn’t contain, and a bold trajectory to follow even their loftiest of dreams. And our school continues to have a high concentration of students with huge aspirations and strong entrepreneurial spirit because Berklee fosters an environment where every seemingly “foolish” goal or passion is attainable and should be not merely followed, but attacked with full zeal.

“We believe that people with passion can change the world for the better… Those people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who actually do.”

A mourner leaves an homage befitting of the Apple founder among the flowers and candles the night of Steve Jobs' passing.

Steve Jobs’ legacy is an inspiration – a beacon of hope – to all who are considered naïve or delusional for their passions, because rarely do you find someone who follows his passions, believes he can literally change the world, and actually does. We won’t see another leader, innovator, or passionate spirit like Steve Jobs again in our lifetime – may he rest in peace.

– Elisa Rice

*All photographs taken by the author

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