UCF students face the music, pursue passion outside of majors

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Despite majoring in an unrelated — and sometimes undesired — field, some UCF students are choosing to push their love of music to the forefront of their lives.

Outside pressures including skeptical family members and encroaching graduation dates have forced some UCF students into sticking with a major they aren’t passionate about and don’t plan on pursuing after graduation.

About 24 percent of the 2017 UCF graduating class has a job outside of their initial course of study, according to the UCF First Destination Survey administered to graduating seniors. Around 47 percent of College of Sciences graduates and 34 percent of College of Medicine graduates work outside of their major, according to the same source.

Take Patrick Pineda, a 21-year-old sports and exercise science major at UCF. He wants to work in music. 

The college senior has been singing and performing since eighth grade. He was a part of his high school choir, a punk band and a professional barbershop quartet. He’s also a fashion photographer, beatboxer and sings tenor full-time for an A cappella group on campus known as Gemini Blvd.

“I’m too far in, I graduate soon … sports, fitness, and exercise [were] very important to me, but your hobbies start to take over a little bit,” Pineda said. “For the past year of my life —  all of my junior year — that’s what I’ve been working towards.”

Pineda said his parents don’t necessarily approve of his musical endeavors; they are doctors and would rather see Pineda pursue a career in physical therapy.

But he doesn’t let that get in his way.

“I know that I’m good at photography, I know that I can beatbox, I know that I can sing, and that’s what I want to do,” he said. “I know what it’s like when you’re just doing things to appease other people.”

Patrick Pineda performs at the Gemini Blvd. quarterfinals at the University of Florida.

Some students take their passion for music and attempt to blend it with their studies.

Jensen Murray, an 18-year-old UCF freshman, is studying early childhood education and has been singing since she was three years old.

She is a member of Voicebox, an A cappella group at UCF that performs in competitions and produces music, she said.

After graduating, Murray said she wants to be a teacher. She said she hopes to combine her two passions by becoming a music teacher.

Brannon Cloy, a 20-year-old sophomore, is studying public relations at UCF. He’s been actively pursuing a career in music for about a year.

“It’s basically the only thing I could see myself doing for the rest of my life,” Cloy said.

Cloy said he’s passionate about his major and wants to be his own publicist one day, but that he wants to be a musician above all else.

Cloy’s interest in making music peaked during his senior year of high school, he said. After arriving at UCF, he acted on his ambitions and started recording at a studio in Orlando. He now spends several hours a day working on his music, which includes writing and recording songs and producing music videos. He also performs in the group Gemini Blvd. as a tenor alongside Pineda.

Cloy said Kodaline, an alternative rock band, was a major influence on him. He describes the music he makes as R&B and soul but says he would like to incorporate alternative music in the future.

Cloy says his passion for music keeps him going when he struggles to find a balance between school and his hobbies.

“[My motivation] would have to be the feeling I get whenever I record and write music,” Cloy said. “I let that feeling carry over when I’m singing.”

He has a support system, made up of his mother and grandmother, back home in Tallahassee. They love his music and constantly promote him, he said.

“I am overwhelmed at the fact that Brannon has come so far with his music,” his mother, Avis Lockett, said. “Every time he calls me and tells me that he has written another song … I just start to smile all over myself.”

UCF Marching Knights at UCF versus Florida International University game, Photo by Austin Warren.

UCF has six bands that employ about 500 students, and most of them aren’t music majors. 

The largest band and student organization on campus is Marching Knights, according to the UCF Bands’ website. UCF’s associate director of bands, Tremon Kizer, said there are more than 300 students in Marching Knights and 90 percent of them are not music majors. The second largest is Concert Band, which is made up of 80 percent non-music majors. Kizer said two other bands, University Band and Jammin’ Knights, are both also 90 percent non-music majors.

“Band provides me with a creative outlet to allow me to express myself through music,” Jacqueline Bryer, a UCF freshman studying health sciences, said. “Music … has always been a part of my everyday life. Even though my major has nothing to do with playing the trumpet, I think it keeps my mind active and fresh.”

Kizer said band members are devoted and spend between two to eight hours a week rehearsing even though most of them don’t plan to go into the music industry after graduation. 

Recently, Cloy has released three singles and an EP titled “Looking for Love” under the name “B. Cloy” on Apple Music and Spotify. About a month ago, he also released his first music video on YouTube for his song “Keep Calling Me.”

Although he considers himself  “pretty successful,” he says he’s nowhere near where he wants to be. Cloy said he’d like to make music his full-time career and is considering moving to California.

“If I could, I would rather do music,” Pineda said. “Just do it … if you understand what you’re doing and you just know what you like, you can make anything of it.”