Newhouse’s inaugural Bandier Scholars pursue dreams of careers in music business

Two first-year students join the Newhouse School this fall as the inaugural recipients of the Martin Bandier Scholarship. Established by legendary music publishing executive and Life Trustee Martin Bandier ’62, the scholarship provides financial support for students from underrepresented populations who are enrolled in the Bandier Program for Recording and Entertainment Industries.

“The Bandier Program was created as a way to show my deep dedication to the music industry by creating the preeminent music business program in the country,” Bandier says. “With this scholarship, I am able to take this commitment a step further and I am thrilled to welcome these two new students to the program.”

“We’re eternally grateful to Marty Bandier for his dedication to the Newhouse School,” says Newhouse dean Mark J. Lodato. “I’m confident Sofia and Alexis will shine in the Bandier Program, and thrive as a part of the Syracuse University community.”

Sofia Elizabeth Gutierrez

Sofia Elizabeth Gutierrez

Los Angeles native Sofia Elizabeth Gutierrez, who is of Filipina and Mexican descent, first became interested in music as a young child whose father liked to play 80s and 90s hits. Though she wrote her own songs in first grade, she says she was too shy to share them. She pursued music by learning to play the piano, ukulele, guitar and bass, but money was tight in her family, and attending concerts wasn’t an option.

“I grew up down the street from Capitol Records, and seeing that iconic building every day was a major part of my life,” she says. “But I felt like that world was out of reach.”

While researching colleges, Gutierrez discovered the Newhouse School’s Bandier Program. Her high school counselor discouraged her from applying, telling her she wouldn’t get admitted, but she took a chance. It was the only music business program she applied to.

“The only thing that would make it worth it for me to leave California would be for the one-in-a-million opportunity to be part of the Bandier Program,” she says.

Gutierrez is excited to explore all the different areas of the music industry during her time at Newhouse. Ultimately, she would like to contribute to the diversification of the industry in a meaningful way.

The Bandier Scholarship, she says, has given her “a life-changing opportunity to follow my dream. I’m honored to be one of the first recipients and will not take this opportunity for granted.”

Alexis Sanon

Alexis Sanon also credits the Bandier Scholarship with allowing her to follow her dreams. “This scholarship has been like words of encouragement—that there is a space for me in this industry, and I want to meet this challenge head on,” she says.  

A Haitian-American from Brooklyn, Sanon began immersing herself in the music business by following the band One Direction. She created social media fan accounts, learning about promotion and radio play and ultimately meeting and managing an artist.  

She started the first Black Student Union at her high school, creating a sense of community and promoting the idea of higher education among students who might not have considered it an option.

“I wanted to help them see that there are many successful careers other than just being a lawyer or doctor. I also wanted to practice what I preached and pursue a career with no limitations.”

Sanon discovered the Bandier Program during a college search. She was excited to learn about the global expansion of music and the international benchmark trips offered by the program, and knew she would benefit from the classroom learning and training she’d receive as a student here. She says she could not have enrolled at Newhouse without the Bandier Scholarship.

Sanon is interested in fan engagement to help bridge the gap between artists and the fans who support them. She would also like to establish a mentorship program for young Black women with similar career interests.

“Getting to meet Alexis and Sofia in these first days of the new school year, and hearing their stories has been inspiring,” says Bandier director Bill Werde. “They and their colleagues in the Bandier Program provide constant reminders that it’s  such a privilege to get to work with these future leaders of the music business. Their dreams and aspirations set our bar every day.”

The Bandier Program combines the study of the business of music, media, marketing and entrepreneurship with hands-on experiences that prepare students for successful careers in the music industry. It is consistently ranked by Billboard magazine as one of the top programs of its kind in the country. Over the years, graduates of the Bandier Program have successfully pursued business and entrepreneurial careers and built a strong alumni network to support the aspirations of current and future students.