Tom Simek '05

Where do you currently work?
I live in Athens Greece and I work mainly as private lesson instructor. I teach piano, guitar and English as a second language. I also am a freelance composer and currently writing children's songs for MM Publishing Company. Recently, I published my first book (as I'm an aspiring author as well) a tourist guide, entitled "How to be Greek without Being Greek." Lastly, but not least, I am a performing musician. I play keyboards in numerous rock bands and am currently touring Greece with the 2011 winner of Greek Idol.

Where are you from?
I am from Johnstown, New York.

What brought you to Hartwick?
I was lured to Hartwick by the beauty of the campus, the friendliness of the staff and the non-rigid learning environment. J Term is what really sealed the deal for me.

What is your favorite spot on campus?
I have two. Table Rock and the practice rooms in the music building.

What is your first memory of Hartwick?
I did Awakening at Pine Lake, so my first memory was sleeping in the woods at Pine Lake and having to build our own shelter with.

What is your most memorable Hartwick experience, why?
My most memorable experience was when I travelled to Thailand for J Term my senior year. We stayed with villagers in the north and at one point crossed over the border into Myanmar (or Burma). There, I was swarmed by a group of poor children, who were begging for food and money. There was this little girl, probably three years old and she was carrying a newborn baby, which looked nearly dead. The whole scene was so overwhelming, I couldn't even react. I just fled the scene and back over the border into Thailand. That day changed my life forever. I came back from Thailand a different person and my outlook on humanity was never the same after that.

Any experience you would want to repeat and/or recommend to current students?
Go on J Term programs.

What are your plans 10 years from now?
I'm hoping that one of my books will be adapted to film and that I'll be able to score the music for it.

Any advice for underclassmen or prospective students?
Your education at Hartwick is what you make of it. Hartwick gives you the great potential to pursue what your passion. Freshman year, I was a pre-med student and somehow I ended up with a Bachelors in Music Composition and I couldn't be happier with that. So do what you love and love what you do. Pay attention to your teachers, even if you don't like what they say. The most important thing is to listen and absorb as much as you can. The information you learn in college will shape your life. Sometimes the criticism may hurt, but if you find the right teacher, they will make you better take you to the next level.

As Bob Dylan said, "The times, they are a-changin'." What was true for your parents is not true for you. This brave new world belongs to those who are courageous enough to forge their own path. So be open minded and visionary, but don't be over-confident. Learn to admit when your wrong and learn to say sorry. That will help you, not only in school, but in all relationships.

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Jamie Rubino Planan '99

Jamie Rubino Planan '99

Hartwick prepared me for my career by providing me with sound fundamental music skills.

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