Entertaining Crowds in NYC

Bengey Asse '06

When Bengey Asse '06 began his career at MCLA, he was the only DJ on campus, which provided a unique opportunity for experience in his field. Today, he continues to bring that distinctive flair to his work in New York City.

"I consider myself a DJ/entertainer," Asse explained. "Besides playing the music, I'm an emcee. I talk on the mic and get the crowd hyped up to dance and party. I also dance as well." A fine and performing arts major with a concentration on acting, Asse served as the DJ for the Annual Valentine's Day gala and Greek organization formals, and also at basketball games, Campus Center events, and even for North Adams businesses.

"MCLA helped me keep the momentum after college as I began to pursue my professional career," Asse said. "The fact that I can DJ, emcee and dance helps me stand out from the many other DJs in New York City."

Part of MCLA's Dance Company back when the club was just getting its start, Asse served as a choreographer and a dancer. Now, in addition to his DJ work, he's employed as a dancer with an entertainment company, Shine Events, which performs for teens at events such as Bat Mitzvahs. "Dance Company started me off on the path of entertainment," Asse said. 

Besides working at a variety of venues throughout New York City – and his work at private events – Asse also is the resident DJ at Union Hall in Park Slope, Brooklyn. "The thing I'm most passionate about for my DJ work and music is moving people, period. We all love music, right? The fact that you can change someone's mood or make their night with the music that you play is so satisfying to me," Asse said. 

The best part of being a DJ, he said, is entertaining the crowd. "I love to see people happy, clapping and dancing along to the music I select for them. I consider myself the 'life of the party,'" Asse said. "I always get good feedback from the crowd about how they love my energy. I just have fun!"

The best part of attending MCLA, according to Asse, was the opportunity to join a small community and a "family" that will stay with its graduates beyond their years on campus. "I'm really a fan of small classes. The professors were like your mentors, parents, big brothers and sisters, all in one. They are really passionate and knowledgeable about the arts, with plenty of experience," he explained. "They really do care about you, and you are not just a number. To me, that's big."

Because of this work, Dilthey, who double majored in English and environmental studies at MCLA, recently won the 2016 New England Outdoor Writing Association's Award.
"I write about things that mean a lot to me, and I think anyone can connect with someone's experience if the story they're telling is meaningful and honest," Dilthey said.
"I think it's great that a lot of my work resonates with people. I especially love the community on my site, where I have regular readers who comment and tell me what they think about my articles. That feedback really makes me want to write more and more," he added.
Dilthey originally planned to major in art. He switched to English after a positive experience in a writing course. Then, during his sophomore year, he became "hooked" on biology after taking a course to fulfill a science prerequisite, and ended up adding the environmental studies major soon after.
"I don't think I'd have picked either of these majors if I wasn't inspired by the courses and professors at MCLA," Dilthey said.
Now a graduate student in the Sustainability Science program at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, where he is completing his master's degree and beginning work on his Ph.D., Dilthey's many activities include working with a team of Ph.D. students and faculty to co-author a paper on adaptation and mitigation for climate change resilience in coastal environments.
Dilthey also teaches his own class," Sustainable Living: Solutions for the 21st Century," a four-credit course for first-year UMass students.
In addition, he's working with the Residential Academic Programs Office to develop new connections for first-year students and programming partners across the University of Massachusetts system as they create a general education course on life at college.
"I push the benefits and importance of a diverse, rich, and multifaceted education to my students any chance I get, using my time at MCLA as an example of the power of interdisciplinary learning. I am immensely proud of our school, and I am lucky to have started there. I would not be here without MCLA," he said.
In fact, Dilthey finds himself spending a good deal of time telling students about the benefits of his experiences at MCLA, such as how they can find opportunities in clubs and the value of  learning from a diverse selection of classes.
Dilthey, whose writing also is featured in Adventure Cycling and Bikepackers magazines, discovered his love for camping, hiking and backpacking during his senior year through the MCLA Outdoors Club. There, he learned everything he needed to know to eventually lead trips himself. The experience, he said, was "transformative."
At UMass, Dilthey said he has one of the strongest backgrounds in environmental law among others in his department. "MCLA taught me that the courses outside of your major or focus can sometimes be the most valuable to your career. 
He recommends MCLA – and the English and environmental sciences programs, in particular – to prospective students.
"Both of these degrees are absolutely as rigorous and comprehensive as degrees from other colleges, and I have never once felt underprepared for my career and graduate school. I know a lot of my peers that graduated with me would say the same thing," Dilthey said. "Our entire group is doing amazing things, and we're all still connected because of the sense of community we had at MCLA."

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