When you’re already doing what you love, what more could you want?
Sometimes we focus more on what we want than what we need. You could say that Jesse Vernon Hammock III, music director at St. John’s Baptist Church in Harlem, NY had what he wanted. Enrolling at Nyack College showed him he could stretch for more.
Jesse’s journey began on Nyack’s suburban Rockland County campus in 2005. The city campus, then located at 361 Broadway, felt more like home and he made the decision to transfer. But financial challenges caused the talented music major to doubt if he’d ever be able to complete his degree. With the support of his parents, he persevered. It was also because of two people he calls his “other set of parents,” Drs. Sue and Dana Talley at Nyack’s NYC School of Music, that he’ll enjoy the distinction of making Nyack history. Next month he will receive his Bachelor of Music degree cum laude and as the first graduate of the gospel music performance degree program launched in 2016.
Today he recalls with a smile, “Before every semester started, Dana would ask me on Facebook, ‘When are you coming back to finish what you started?’” Those persistent nudges pushed Jesse in the right direction. He’s gained so much more than an education and he credits Nyack as the place where he gained a new level of appreciation for the value of family and friends.
At St. John’s Baptist Church, J Hammock & Chosen is the gospel choir he founded two years ago. “Singing with and directing my choir has allowed me to utilize the skills and knowledge that I have acquired here at Nyack. I will continue to enhance my skill set as I teach and lead them. I would love to do music full-time and not ever have to work for anyone but myself; however, I will go where the Lord leads me!”
He’s already branched from music to establish EventTransformerz, an event planning business. “I’ve been invited to sing at events that I’ve planned. It is a blessing to do both! It allows me to network and gain other opportunities. There have been times when I had two events in one day and then go out to sing at another gig.”
About his time at Nyack, Jesse commented, “I have built so many relationships. Nyack has made me a better man and a better person. The way that the professors care about you at Nyack—whether it’s your in-school activities or your personal life— is amazing.”
“I am Nyack and I say that proudly. Nyack is not just a school, a building, a college—it’s a family.”