Meet Sean L.

Individual Studies Graduate

“In high school, I really wasn't motivated by education. I decided I'm going to go to Hudson Valley, get my two-year, and then transfer.”

The next time you're on Spotify and you wonder how that next song magically seems to line up with your mood, think about Sean Lachhander.

The 2015 Individual Studies graduate finished his master's degree in Computer Science and Applied Mathematics at University at Albany this past winter, and for the past year he has been working with Dr. Shaghayegh Sahebi to research better and more efficient ways to configure, "music recommender systems" – the algorithms and information filtering systems that help make that music choice the right one for the individual listener. Sean has acquired TA positions for courses such as Data Structures, and Algorithms & Data Structures at SUNY Albany while pursuing his studies as well.

After earning his master's degree, Sean hopes to find a career working with one of the major music streaming services, such as Spotify, in New York City. He also has the option to pursue a career in finance by combining his knowledge in software development, and applied mathematics. Sean is also interested in furthering his education while working, to receive a PhD in Computer Science or an MBA.

But a promising career in software engineering or business didn't look likely when he graduated from Shaker High School in 2013.

"In high school, I really wasn't motivated by education. I applied to SUNY Albany and SUNY Buffalo and I didn't get in, so I decided I'm going to go to Hudson Valley, get my two-year [degree] and then transfer to Albany or Buffalo."

His first semester at Hudson Valley – where he only completed three credits – was not a promising start, but after shifting among a couple different academic programs, he hit a turning point. Having to hold down three jobs while attending school, was also part of the motivation. One awful day as a pizza delivery person helped him see the need to focus on his education. 

"I knew I didn't want to be doing that for the rest of my life, and I realized that I had to get it in gear because I did want to finish in two years. So I took 24 credits in one semester, and 21 credits in another semester while taking some rigorous and challenging courses!"

Sean's Individual Studies degree allowed him to take a variety of Liberal Arts, Business, Computer Science and Accounting courses at Hudson Valley, which funneled into his program at UAlbany.

If his academic work and outside jobs weren't enough to keep him busy, he's also heavily involved in the West Indian music industry, creating remix CDs and helping DJs, remixers, MCs and artists build a community that can work together. If you're visiting the Caribbean, or even some neighborhoods in the borough of Queens, you might hear his music.

"I've had friends go back to places like Guyana, Jamaica, and they'd tell me that they'd see my CDs for sale or just hear them. It's crazy to me that the music could get that far."