Hanbyul Jang applied to only one transfer school: the prestigious Berklee College of Music.
Some people would consider him foolish for not considering a safety school or other options, the SUNY Broome Music major acknowledged. It was a bold gamble – and it paid off. He aced his audition and was accepted.
“My plan was if I made it to Berklee, I would go right away. If I didn’t make it, I would have built my portfolio and applied to other schools,” he explained.
Harry – as he is known on campus – first became interested in piano through a neighbor when he was just four years old. He began lessons with a tutor a year or two later in his hometown of Seoul, South Korea.
“Most typical Asian parents send their kids to the academy,” he explained. “I saw a lot of other kids who didn’t like to go, but I liked it. It was fun. I liked the vibe.”
While he continued his studies in piano, he also studied additional instruments such as the flute, and participated in the orchestra as an accompanist.
In 2010, his father – then a doctoral student — received a student visa to the United States, and the family relocated. Harry graduated from a Californian high school in 2015. When his father relocated to Binghamton for career purposes, Harry decided to join him.
Initially, he planned to take a gap year before college to build his portfolio and further hone his piano technique. His mother encouraged him to continue his education, and he chose SUNY Broome for its proximity and affordability.
“Before I got here, I wasn’t expecting that much. I thought, it’s a community college; people go there to transfer, or to get a degree quickly and get a job,” he admitted. “It was more than I thought!”
The Music Department faculty are experts in their field, and helped him stay motivated, he said. He had the opportunity to showcase his talents during the recent Faculty Staff Assembly, and tutors his peers in piano through the Learning Assistance Department.
Long-term, Harry wants to become a composer, creating music for film, television and other forms of media. And, of course, continuing to enjoy the art he loves.
When you’re contemplating your future, dream big; like Harry’s audition at Berklee, you’ll never know what you can achieve until you try. Just as importantly, don’t discount the opportunities that are before you right now – such as your local community college.
“I feel a lot of people don’t have high expectations of community college,” Harry mused. “Our faculty members know what they’re doing. They’re as good as other university professors. Thank you to all of them!”