Meet Brielle Ocot
Hometown: Clifton, New Jersey
Home Church & Denomination: Bethany Church (Wyckoff, NJ) - Assemblies of God
Degrees: B.A. Music Performance and Literature at Ramapo College of New Jersey
Garrett-Evangelical Degree Program/Year: M.A. Music Ministry, 2nd year
I grew up 10 miles outside of my favorite city in the world: New York. With a mother who is a teacher and a father who loves good food, I was bound to spend the majority of my childhood traipsing up and down Manhattan in search of the new and exciting - and traipse I did! Growing up next to the city that never sleeps cultivated in me a love of diversity, a taste for adventure, and, of course, a passion for good pizza.
I started playing the piano at age 8 and somehow never stopped. Music, like God, seemed to me as natural as breathing. As I grew in my musicality and my faith, church became one of the main forums in which I developed my skills: I was always accompanying choirs, playing for worship bands, and doing offertories. When it came time to apply for college, the path of the collegiate musician seemed overwhelming and I wondered if my passion could really be a career or if it was only meant to be hobby. Halfway through college, after some significant encounters with the Lord and the bewildered realization that I was still very much a musician even though I wasn’t a music major, I began to understand that my passion was not meant to be a career or a hobby - it was meant to be a calling. My heart had always been committed to God, and I became aware that my music would be as well.
Attraction to Garrett-Evangelical:
After college, I spent a year looking at various M.A. Sacred Music programs around the country. In my search, I found that most programs fell into one of two camps: either musically-oriented with little-to-no ministerial training or ministry-oriented with little-to-no musical training. I was looking for a program that had both. In a divine moment that I can only attribute to God and Google, I stumbled upon Garrett-Evangelical’s website and noticed the Music Ministry program; a glance at the degree outline showed a well-balanced program that seemed too good to be true. After a heartfelt conversation with admissions personnel, I applied to the program and was accepted. A subsequent visit to campus that included a breathtaking walk around the lakefront, a spiritually-charged chapel service, and a placating meeting with the financial aid director clinched it: I knew Garrett-Evangelical was where I should be.
Music ministry within the church will always be a facet of my career. As such, I plan on seeking out a job within the music/worship team of a church after graduation. Increasingly, I am also feeling a burden for Christian (academic) education, particularly at the secondary and collegiate levels. As a product of Christian schools, I am a passionate advocate for Christian academic institutions. I would love to one day work in a Christian school or college/university where I can train and mentor young musicians as they seek to blend their music and their faith.