Musical artist Mike Posner seems to be living the sort of enchanted existence you only see in movies. Despite never having sung before his 21st birthday, Posner was launched into the music industry's stratosphere before he finished college. Born and raised near Detroit, Posner was a high school student employed at a radio station when he began working with fellow Detroit native, Big Sean. Their collaboration led to industry interest and encouragement of Posner's musical talents. So, in 2009, while living in a college dorm, he released one of his own mixtapes, "A Matter of Time." The mixtape sparked a bidding war between music labels and Posner's life changed overnight. Now, 34, the Grammy-nominated singer has released two EPs, two studio albums, six singles, and 10 music videos. He has also written songs for many popular artists, such as Justin Bieber, Labrinth, Maroon 5, Nick Jonas, Big Sean, Nelly, Austin Mahone – establishing himself as one his generation's most successful musical artists.
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Posner attended Duke University, where his life took on the feel of a superhero movie. The first couple of years were normal enough – with Posner focusing on sociology, eating ramen noodles in the dorm room, playing basketball with buddies, and becoming a member of Sigma Nu fraternity. But after the release of his 2009 mixtape, everything changed, and suddenly Posner was exhibiting the superhero archetype of a dual nature: spending weekdays in lecture halls and libraries while spending weekends performing at sold-out hip-hop shows. During his junior year, he met with Jay-Z in New York City, who offered Posner a sizable record contract, with a hefty signing bonus if he finished school. Instead of signing the deal, Posner returned to Duke to write a 20-page paper. He graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in sociology (minoring in business) with a 3.6 GPA.
Posner has maintained a strong connection with his alma mater since graduating in 2010. The award-winning musician was back on the Durham campus in 2015 for one of Duke's big annual events. Known as the Duke DEMAN Weekend, the three-day university event celebrates artistic accomplishments of the Duke community with an array of alumni-led workshops, networking sessions, and panel discussions about working in the entertainment and media industries. As one of the main guests for the event, not only did Posner give an impromptu acoustic performance of “Cooler than Me," he also answered questions from the audience and delivered the keynote address.
Posner’s closing words of advice for students was to always feel as if they deserve their successes, citing his own self-doubt while collaborating with famous artists and record producers for the first time. “When Pharrell Williams invited me to his studio in Miami to write a song with him, I was totally overcome with anxiety,” Posner said. “But then I realized something. Pharrell wasn’t doing me a favor by having me in his studio. I was there because I belonged there. I am good at writing songs.”