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Alumni Spotlight


Becca Werner ('15)
Section: Drumline
Position: Cymbal Section Leader
Major: Biology (Environmental), Marine Science (minor)

If there was anything constant about my undergraduate career, registering for MUS 268 was exactly that. My schedule revolved around band, as it does for many others. Playing cymbals allowed me to channel my stressors into something creative and let me focus on my love for music.

While I was striving to progress as a student, I was also striving to be a better musician and band member. Serving as cymbal section leader for my junior and senior year helped me to achieve that. No one ever tells you that it's going to be a simple task: leading others to focus on the common goal of being "one band; one sound." What does everyone who has been in a leadership position tell you? It is worth every second. This position strengthened my communication and listening skills; it tested my teaching abilities and patience; it taught me how to work in a team environment, but also how to lead by example. These skills are invaluable and are deeply connected to pursuing my future goals as a marine biologist in the research field.

Even after graduating last May, I couldn't stay away from this organization because of the impact it left on my life. I wanted to give back to the group that gave me confidence, strength, love, and happiness. This past academic year, I had the opportunity to be a cymbal technician on and off the field. I also wrote my first  small performance for the cymbal section which debuted at Showcase (shameless plug). (: 

Working alongside Mr. Carman and Mrs. Stahl has been an incredible honor and privilege that I am extremely thankful for. The band rests in good hands (as it always has) and I am excited to see what the future holds.

Mike Ayala Michael Ayala ('11, ’12, ‘14)
Section: Drumline
Position: Historian/Drumline Captain
Major: Electrical-Computer Engineering/Applied Mathematics
Employer: Flexible Systems, Three Village Central School District

Seeing the growth of an organization can inspire awe in any alumnus and I’m proud to be a part of the Spirit of Stony Brook. The diverse group of friends, staff, and network of people you get immersed in open so many opportunities for your future. Being able to travel, perform on TV and Commercials, and just keep doing something that you love cannot be beat, but add on the network of high ranking university officials and supportive alumni, you’ll be hard pressed to find a better group to join. 

The skills and leadership experiences the band has given me over the years has made me a key employee as a Client Support Engineer at Flexible Systems, a technology firm that works with many major hospitals and businesses across Long Island and throughout the country. In just a short time, I became the lead engineer of the Assembly and Integration Department because I was able to show I was disciplined, professional, able to be part of a team, and always striving for excellence. The biggest contribution to my success was the opportunity to be the drumline instructor while I was pursuing my graduate degrees. It was fulfilling to give back and play a role in teaching the students that will push the program to its future successes.

Thanks to these experiences, I was hired at my other alma mater as their drumline coordinator. I get to use the lessons learned during the early years of the Spirit of Stony Brook and apply them as I mold the minds and shape the direction of a newly budding marching program. Maybe I can convince some of them to become future Seawolves.


Kunz Eric Kunz ('13)
Instrument: Trombone
Position: Drum Major
Major: Biology/Computer Science
Employer: Old Westbury Gardens, Garden City High School

The classiest, friendliest, and most fun community that I have been a part of: that is what the Stony Brook Marching Band is to me. I owe the best parts of myself, in no small way, to my time with this group. My band family has shown me leadership skills, teamwork, and that following one’s passion and taking on challenges really pays off.

I worked in a research lab for several months after graduation. I also worked as a photographer, taught a local marching band, and continued to hone my programming skills because I enjoyed doing so. I recently launched my first app called  LiveBlend. Creating the app was about following my passion. Its success is opening new possibilities for me. It has been challenging and exciting at the same time but I have experienced these feelings before when first becoming a member of the band and later becoming a drum major. I will soon be working on a team again for a technology company in New York City. The marching band was the best training I could have gotten for being part of a team and leading it.

Sometime while busking in New York City streets, traveling to distant arenas, playing my trombone on television, and leading the band in front of thousands I became a confident person that is always striving for excellence and ready to take on the world.


Laino Kristen Laino ('13)
Instrument: Mellophone
Position: Secretary
Employer: Lions Eye Bank for Long Island 

When looking at prospective colleges as a senior in high school, I made sure any school I considered had a marching band. This was simply because it was an activity I enjoyed at the time and wanted to continue. What I didn't know is how much of a key role it would play in my college education and even my future beyond school. 

The Spirit of Stony Brook Marching Band is different than any other musical group I've been involved in. I previously thought all my college learning would take place in a classroom, but I was wrong. Not only did I improve my musical skills, but I met lifelong friends, learned important professional skills and was encouraged to push myself beyond my comfort zone. 

Since graduating, the confidence I gained through marching band has helped me get my job at the Lions Eye Bank for Long Island, an organization dedicated to restoring vision and fighting corneal blindness through donation.

My colleagues at work love listening to me ramble on about my experiences with the marching band because I do so with such pride. I think being a part of this band is a truly unique experience that no one should miss out on!


Bansen Geoff Bansen ('10)
Instrument: Mellophone
Position: Drum Major
Employer: CBS Philadelphia

Being a member of the Stony Brook Marching Band was one of the most incredible experiences of my life. Starting off the way that I did really helped to set the tone for what would become an amazing 4 years. I had been in a band before; but walking onto this large and unfamiliar campus, and meeting 19 fellow strangers who along with me were STARTING a band? That was a large task, and I think something that helped me and the others grow together quickly.

Being the band's second ever drum major taught me so many things, including aspects of teamwork, leadership, respect, community, and responsibility. Not only was I meeting some amazing people and having a great time supporting my school, I was also growing in the classroom and beyond, becoming a more well-rounded person. These are only a few of the many positives that have come from being a part of the Athletic Bands, and all traits that I've carried with me ever since.

I was recently named the new morning weather production coordinator at CBS Philadelphia, and I attribute this latest achievement largely in part to my experiences as a member of this extraordinary group!


Milard Jonathan Milard ('12)
Instrument: Cymbals/Bass Drum
Major: Anthropology/Social Studies Education 
Employer: Building Educated Leaders for Life (BELL)
I often find it hard to believe how much has happened since I graduated from Stony Brook last May. Since that time, I’ve volunteered abroad in Nepal, found a great job teaching first graders at an afterschool program, and have been accepted into the Master’s in Literacy Education program at Queens College. I often find myself in the midst of a hodgepodge of experiences, which most people attribute to my willingness to try new things, but I correct them by letting them know that it is mainly due to my willingness to try a few new things and those experiences leading me to others. 
A prime example would be my experience joining the Spirit of Stony Brook my freshman year. Even though I had experience playing percussion, I had never been part of a marching band in the past and was curious to see what it would be like. Doing so, I met such a diverse group of people that several doors in my life opened that I didn’t know existed. I joined clubs I never thought I would join, interacted with students with different interests that I would not have met otherwise, and ended up studying abroad in Tanzania, which sparked my interest in volunteering abroad. Consequently, joining the band has had an immense effect on who I am today.

The Spirit of Stony Brook is quite unique in that it can bring so many different types of people together and allow ideas to be exchanged and blossom. And although I was a bit skeptical of the phrase in the past, I left Stony Brook knowing that the Spirit of Stony Brook was truly one band, one sound, and also, one family.


naveet singh Navneet Singh ('08)
First Drum Major & Founding Member

For those of you who don’t know me, I am a graduate student at Stony Brook, and more importantly, a founder of this band and its first drum major. I spent two years here before the band started up and feel I finally started to become who I was meant to be when I joined this band. 

I learned how to work in teams by having to learn music and drill with my fellow band members, refined my public speaking skills every time I made an announcement and was taught time management by having to balance game weekends with my schoolwork, which are not skills that all people have. Your involvement in the band, gives you the opportunity to become unique and set yourself apart from the masses.

Seniors, you already started your legacy by being a part of one of the most influential groups on campus. We’re lucky because our names will forever be etched into the history of this band and this university. I feel fortunate to have this as my claim to fame, my conversation starter, part of MY legacy.


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