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How Daniela Patino-Zabaleta used her SUPER-Curricular Seed Grant to Explore Music Consumption Around the World

by: Qulea Anderson

Daniela Patino-Zabaleta, an NC State senior majoring in Business with an Arts Entrepreneurship minor, received a University Fellowship Office SUPER-Curricular Seed Grant in 2018. The University Fellowship Office offers the grant that provides funding for promising undergraduate students to build on their undergraduate studies by participating in an extraordinary summer experience that should enhance recipients’ competitiveness for prestigious national and international scholarships, fellowships, and admission to highly competitive graduate programs. 

When it came to applying for the grant, Daniela discovered it via a newsletter from Multicultural Student Affairs. She met with a staff member in the Fellowship Advising Office where she learned about the requirements, the documents needed for application, and deadlines. After that, she started drafting her initial project that focused on bringing a more diverse audience to ballet and a plan to develop it in New York. After the draft, she ran into some issues when it came to confirmation about an internship. Not to be deterred, she created a second project proposal that she consulted one of her arts entrepreneurship professors to help organize and give meaning to it. She sent the proposal in and a couple of weeks later, they notified her of her acceptance. 

Patino-Zabaleta’s project was market research focused on Spotify streaming services and she conducted her research in Colombia,  Daniela wanted to get an understanding of Colombia’s ratio in terms of its paid Spotify subscribers and their ad-funded subscribers. Daniela noticed the higher number of people who stream music in Colombia and its imbalance when it came to the ratio of paid and ad-funded subscribers versus other countries, there are more paid subscribers than ad-funded. Daniela wanted to know why and what was influencing that imbalance. 

This trip was her very first time traveling on her own. With this experience, she stated that traveling alone helped her develop skills like independence, self-confidence, and self-love. She had complete control over her schedule and her budget, which she had to maintain some sort of wise spending. She learned time management skills in the sense of choosing what days were dedicated to research and what was dedicated to free time. 

Daniela enjoyed her travel experience and she noticed that she had quit social media and began to find her purpose in life as well as solidify some beliefs, which was not an intended goal for the trip. Daniela believed her experience to be very inspiring, “ I was able to conduct research that allowed me to explore my intersecting interests as well as have people who trusted in me to be myself. I still feel very grateful to have the opportunity to dig deeper into my passions and interests i.e. professional dancing, singing, and being surrounded by the arts and being able to conduct market research.” 

Daniela also talked about her various learning experiences in each city she visited in her home country, “like one would say or one would believe that because I was born there, I was aware of everything and all the food, all the idioms and all of those little things that were present within the country. However, I did not know many of the cities or hadn’t tried different food that was present within Colombia.” 

Daniela’s reasoning for making her proposal stand out was due to her combining both of her passions, marketing and music, as well as being aware of the culture and speaking the language. Since she chose her home country, things happened to work out in her favor and she was highly passionate about everything. 

Daniela also described an anecdote about a guy she met who has received the grant a couple of years before she did. His research explored portraits of naked individuals in Europe and he traveled to different countries in Europe to analyze the portraits. She also discussed the difficulty in navigating and giving a full report about her research that needed to be reviewed by the school and government. She received help with it and without being guided, she wouldn’t have been able to use the information she conducted during her research. 

When asked what advice she could give to other students, Daniela responded with “to apply. This is the perfect opportunity to capitalize on your weirdness, on those passions that you have that intersect in a way that no other grant is going to fund. You know, this is a great opportunity to conduct your first research project and it’s a very unique opportunity that will probably change their lives academically, professionally and personally.”