Striking a chord: Brandon changes course to pursue a lifelong passion

Brandon Lake

Brandon Lake

Brandon Lake just couldn’t find his passion in mechanical engineering.

He greeted class with a mix of resignation and dread – and his grade point average that first semester showed it at a barely-there 2.1. He needed a change – and fast.

He called up his father one morning and announced that he was changing his major to Music: Sound Engineering. His parents were supportive, but wanted to know why.

“At a certain point, it wasn’t what I wanted to do because all I could think about was music,” he said of his prior major. “It came down to ‘What do I want to do for myself?’ I want to make a living in music.”

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Striving for excellence

Lake, who grew up in the West Hempstead area, always had a passion for music. He has been an avid singer since he was a child and participated in select choir in high school.

He sings at SUNY Broome as well, giving concerts with the Chamber Choir. He is also part of the Men of Excellence program, which provides SUNY Broome’s men of color with intensive academic, professional and social support – and in Brandon’s words, helps guide participants to be the best they can be.

“Getting to know people and what they’re about and their background is good for everyone. It’s a human thing,” he reflected. “Life is an experience and you should never limit yourself to one point of view.”

The Student Village resident also has seen his GPA climb, reaching a respectable 3.6 last semester. Pursuing his true passion has made all the difference.

“With music class, I was really excited to go,” he said. “It’s not that the work was easy – it’s not – but I pushed myself because this is what I want to do.”

Perhaps as a testament to his engineering roots, he’s interested in the electronics behind sound engineering and has learned how to navigate digital audio workstations and the software they use. He knows how to record himself, a large orchestra and everything in between, along with a wide array of different instruments.

He also has grown outside the classroom, forging connections throughout campus, from faculty and staff to fellow students. In short, he’s grown up – becoming an adult who takes responsibility for himself, fosters teamwork and strives for excellence.

Initially accepted at Alfred State College and SUNY Buffalo State, he opted for SUNY Broome because it was a fresh start – a place where he knew no one and could truly be himself. After graduation, he will transfer to SUNY Oneonta, where he will continue his studies in sound engineering.

In the short-term, he would like to work for Dreamville Records, which specializes in hiphop and R&B, and eventually open his own recording studio. In the long-term, he would like to run a label of his own – as well as learn to play the trumpet, guitar and saxophone.

“It’s been phenomenal,” he said of his time at SUNY Broome. “I found what I wanted to do with my life, I found a bunch of lifelong friends and amazing professors, and I realized my dreams.”