Missouri State University
Aaron Dimatulac

Aaron Dimatulac

Shifting in the face of immediate shutdown

Friday, March 13, 2020 was a bad day for Aaron Dimatulac.

He was leaving L.A. in a hurry. Aaron was in such a rush, he found himself at the wrong airport for his flight back to Missouri. It had been a whirlwind 24 hours. 

Like so many people whose lives were interrupted at the start of the Coronavirus pandemic, Aaron suddenly found himself scrambling as his industry closed for the foreseeable future.

Since 2015, Aaron has worked his way up the ranks as a touring professional, working with live concerts in the US, Canada, UK and Europe. He has managed tours in the US, UK, and Europe. Just the day before, he had been rehearsing with his team ahead of a three-week music tour throughout Canada, ending in Chicago.

Then, news came that major music festivals and tours all announced their respective cancellations. Rehearsal halted. By the next day, the tour had been cancelled and Aaron was on his way back home. 

Networking led to a new direction

Aaron started at MSU as a cell and molecular biology major. He quickly decided that wasn’t for him. An accomplished musician, he next considered becoming a music teacher.

After seeing a sidewalk chalk advertisement for an Entertainment Management Association meeting, he went to his first EMA meeting. There, he met entertainment management professor, Dr. Philip Rothschild.

“Networking and connecting with people led to more and more jobs.”

“He was really nice, the people were really nice, and I was hooked,” Dimatulac said.

He switched his major to entertainment management. Soon, he was networking and building professional connections. He was hired as an intern for an artist management company.

The internship led to a job opportunity, working with a band on the Vans Warped Tour.

Presented with an amazing job opportunity, Aaron decided to leave school. He managed merchandise for a Canadian acoustic artist as a part of the major US touring festival. Over the course of that summer he toured for eight weeks to cities including Los Angeles, Chicago, New York, and Dallas, to name a few.  

He worked for the Warped Tour again in 2017 and 2018, moving up each time. Since then, he’s managed tours across the U.S., the U.K. and Europe. He was preparing for his next U.S. tour when COVID-19 suddenly shut down the entertainment industry, and he found himself on a plane home. 

Committing to leveling up

Aaron Dimatulac checking email on phone backstage.

“I played video games for a month straight.” 

After a series of entertainment industry town halls, he kept hearing a prevailing sentiment: Use the time while the industry is closed to learn. 

After a solid month of gaming, the thought struck him: “Let’s level up.” So Aaron, who left Missouri State before completing his degree, decided to return to MSU online classes to finish. 

A former college roommate sent him an email advertising the Return to Finish Scholarship. The Return to Finish Scholarship is designed to support the re-entry of students, ready to finish the last requirements of their degree. 

Aaron was surprised to discover he was almost 90% of the way to earning his degree. 

Aaron graduated with his bachelor’s degree from Missouri State in fall 2020. Since then, he’s spent time reconnecting with music and seriously focusing on fitness.

With the pandemic still surging, music tours have yet to resume. 

“Rolling into 2021, we’re hearing that tours that were rescheduled for 2021 are now getting pushed back again into 2022…so I thought to myself ‘let’s keep on leveling up in learning/school.’” 

Aaron applied and was accepted into an MBA in Music Business program jointly hosted by the Berklee College of Music and Southern New Hampshire University. 

He’s continuing his education online. When music tours resume, Aaron will be ready to meet new professional challenges. Despite what the world has thrown his way, Aaron makes the best of the situation by continuously choosing to “level up.”

Ready to finish your degree at Missouri State?

The Return to Finish scholarship offers $200 for students enrolling in 3-5 credits and $500 for those enrolling in six or more credits in fall 2020 or spring 2021. Students can receive the scholarship for multiple semesters, but the maximum award for the academic year is $500.