Since he was eight years old, William Staggers wanted to learn the piano. During the course of several years, he taught himself to play, but yearned for lessons that would take him to the next level.
Still, when he was considering college, his lifelong passion for music didn’t enter his mind – at first. Staggers initially had his eyes on Binghamton University and a degree in environmental science. Accepted into the Binghamton Advantage Program, he then did further research – and decided to enroll in SUNY Broome directly for the cost-savings and the chance to explore his options.
“I didn’t know what I wanted to do. I wanted to find out,” explained Staggers, a student from the Bronx now in his third semester.
That openness led him back to his first love – music – and the college’s Sound Engineering program. All Music majors need to study voice or an instrument in addition to one of four tracks (Education and Performance, Sound Engineering, the Music Industry or Music Therapy), which gives Staggers the opportunity to take the piano lessons he’s always wanted. He’s taken several applied music classes so far in addition to his sound engineering courses.
“I love the music that it creates. I love discovering sound; it’s calming,” he said of the piano. “I’m learning a lot and it’s reminding me about discipline.”
SUNY Broome also led Staggers to other opportunities – as a leader, mentor and scholar. A Residence Assistant at the Student Village, Staggers is also involved in the college’s Men of Excellence program, which focuses on providing SUNY Broome’s men of color with intensive academic, professional and social support. Sponsored by the President’s Task Force on Diversity and Inclusion, the program kicked off with a conference at the start of the semester, and continues year-round with discussions and meetings that allow participants in the group to support one another with their personal and academic goals.
“I get this sense of hope and brotherhood. I love to see people of color come together positively, and we build each other up instead of bringing each other down,” Staggers said. “It makes me happy and feel at peace and when we build and learn from each other and ourselves; that’s why I joined.”
In addition to his work as a Residence Assistant – a position that involves both responsibility and accountability, Staggers reflected – he works as a reader-scribe for the ARO, the Accessibility Resources Office. In this capacity, he aids students with a disability, reading their test questions and writing their answers if necessary. The job gives him a sense of humility, Staggers said.
He plans to graduate after the next academic semester, and is currently figuring out his next steps. He’s looking to transfer to a music program that will allow him to continue his sound engineering education, but doesn’t require a performance audition.
In the meantime, he’s looking to explore his identity as a black male scholar and maintain his grades. He encourages other men of color to consider joining the Men of Excellence, which has made a difference for him and other SUNY Broome students.
“Go in with an open mind. If not for anything else in the world, do it for yourself,” he advised fellow Hornets. “It’s a perfect opportunity to build those connections with your fellow Men of Excellence. You get to gather together, and that’s most important academically as well as socially.”