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QCC Sophomore’s Musical Parody Fights the Virus One Note at a Time

September, 2020

One Quinsigamond Community College student has put her own spin on how to deal with today’s national health crisis – through song. Sophomore music major Mason Wheaton sang her way into the hearts of many, with her self-written and self-recorded video song, “We Can Fight the Virus,” sung to the tune of Bill Joel’s 1989 hit, “We Didn’t Start the Fire.” Her rallying cry celebrated the start of school at QCC, and offered a brief insight into what students, faculty and staff are doing to push forward during these unprecedented times. The song was part of All College Day, an informational and motivational event held for faculty and staff the day before each semester begins. 

“Mason is an example of the incredible talent that we see in so many of our students. This was a fun and effective way to demonstrate what we can and should be doing to fight the virus. Mason’s song will resonate with many in the days and weeks to come,” QCC President Dr. Luis G. Pedraja said.

Ms. Wheaton is a first generation college student, and her journey to higher education is similar to many community college students.

“I started college later in life at age 22. I didn’t know what I wanted to do, so I hesitated because I didn’t want a lot of debt, but I was worried about my future and didn’t want to keep working in low level jobs,” she said. 

After a bit of self-reckoning she enrolled at QCC to, as she put it, “save money and have a better life.” She registered for classes in 2019, taking a full course load and becoming an active member of the college community. She became a member of the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society; a student peer mentor; a tutor in the college’s Writing Center and a member of the college’s Music Club.

When Music Professor José Castillo was asked to find a student to perform a parody song to be played at All College Day and help motivate the QCC community during the pandemic, he immediately thought of Ms. Wheaton.

“My responsibility was to choose the perfect performer for the song. Someone who would not only have a beautiful voice and musical talent but, also someone who would make the lyrics come to life and add a special charisma to the overall project,” said Music Professor José Castillo. “I have worked with Mason for the past year, as she is part of the music option degree program. Mason has always been eager to take on new challenges in and out of the classroom, which is an excellent quality to have.”

Ms. Wheaton said the lyrics she wrote were inspired by information she found on the college’s website. Due to COVID-19 and in-person restrictions, she recorded the song at home on her phone in her closet, after Mr. Castillo suggested the clothing in the closet would help absorb the echoing sound often heard when recording in a room. Mr. Castillo assisted with the background music and put the production together. Not only has the song become a hit with the college, it has also earned additional attention through the college’s social media platforms. She was even featured on WHDH Boston News 7.

“I am hearing from everyone how they loved the song,” she said.

Ms. Wheaton plans to graduate in spring 2021 with her associate degree in music, and hopes to transfer to UMass Amherst to major in vocal performance/vocal pedagogy and become a vocal teacher. She said she is grateful to have begun her higher education at QCC.

“There is no shame in going to a community college. It’s the smarter way to go to school especially if you don’t have a lot of money, and then you can easily transfer to a four-year school,” she said. “I want to help students become interested in being a part of the college community and follow their dreams.”

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