Three of Buffalo State University’s most accomplished students—two of whom will receive the Buffalo State President’s Medal—have been chosen to deliver the student address at the university’s 151st Commencement ceremonies on Saturday, May 20. La’Shea Green-Thomas will deliver the School of the Professions student address at the 9:00 a.m. ceremony; Orlando J. Hill, recipient of the President’s Medal for Outstanding Graduate Student, will deliver the School of Education student address during 1:00 p.m. ceremony; and Daniel P. May, recipient of the President’s Medal for Outstanding Undergraduate Student, will deliver the School of Arts and Sciences student address at the university’s 5:00 p.m. ceremony.
The President’s Medal, the highest student honor bestowed by Buffalo State, recognizes one undergraduate student and one graduate student annually for their exceptional academic achievement, community service, leadership, and creativity.
SCHOOL OF THE PROFESSIONS STUDENT ADDRESS
La’Shea Green-Thomas has earned a master’s degree and graduate certificate in creativity and change leadership while working as the administrative assistant in the Higher Education Administration Department at Buffalo State.
A native of Buffalo, Green-Thomas has more than 20 years of experience in the field of childhood education. She strives to be an agent of change and consistently models commitment in pedagogical and andragogical environments. She is a lifelong learner who maintains the ability to engage, connect, and direct others who are not afforded equitable educational experiences. Noted for her work with at-risk youth, young adults, and adults from diverse populations, she is adept as a group facilitator in problem-solving and conflict resolution.
Green-Thomas worked for a nonprofit organization in Western New York from 2008 to 2021, starting as a site coordinator, creating and implementing programming for school-age youth and advancing to roles as an education manager administering after-school programs, summer camps, and the leadership academy. She concluded her time with the organization as an assistant director in the Youth Services Department, managing seven inner-city programs and one Southtowns program overseeing 85 team members.
Green-Thomas serves as a community and youth advocate, sitting on the boards of directors for the Osborne Association for youth of incarcerated parents, 4-H Cornell Cooperative Extension, Engineering and Technology Academy of Distinction Charter School, Rebecca Rose Recovery Centers of WNY, and Spirit of Truth Urban Ministries; and Buffalo State University’s Graduate Student Association and President’s Medal and SUNY Chancellor’s Award committees.
She holds a graduate certificate in adult education (2022) and a bachelor’s degree in business administration and economics (2007) from Buffalo State. She also earned her associate’s degree in business management at SUNY Erie. Green-Thomas has received the SUNY Graduate Diversity Fellowship, the Graduate Student Association Merit-Based Scholarship, the Ron Brown/ITEC Scholarship, and the Phillip Santa Maria Award for Student Leadership in Equity and Campus Diversity.
She is the wife of Sherman Thomas Jr. and mother to three sons, Shermarion, Nehemiah, and Noah Thomas.
SCHOOL OF EDUCATION STUDENT ADDRESS
PRESIDENT’S MEDAL FOR OUTSTANDING GRADUATE STUDENT
Orlando J. Hill
Orlando Hill has earned a master of science in education in career and technical education, attaining a 3.92 GPA while working as a tenured teacher in the Buffalo Public Schools’ newly formed Buffalo School of Culinary Arts and Hospitality Management (School 355). He earned his undergraduate degree in hospitality administration from Buffalo State in 2015.
Hill has been a model student. His critical decision-making skills are thoughtful, insightful, and professionally reflective. His writing skills are excellent, and he completes all work in a professional manner. An active participant in class discussions, he often promotes other students’ commentary, which results in meaningful class sessions.
As a teacher, Hill has the passion and ability to facilitate student success. He expertly combines a creative and enthusiastic attitude with a calm and patient demeanor. He is an excellent communicator who seeks out new challenges and alternative methods of teaching to bring out the best in his students. His hands-on lessons contribute to his students’ sense of belonging and academic achievement.
He serves his school district as a culinary instructor and a basketball coach for the Emerson Lady Eagles junior varsity team.
Community-minded, he has volunteered with Buffalo State service-learning projects. In addition, he is the Sunday School secretary for his church, the Greater St. Matthew Missionary Baptist Church. He is a member of the National Society of Leadership and Success, a Wegmans Scholar, a Statler Foundation Scholar, and a Buffalo Public Schools’ Teachers of Tomorrow Grant recipient. He also received the 2021 Changemakers 30 Under 30 award, for which he received recognition from New York State Senator Tim Kennedy and Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown.
SCHOOL OF ARTS AND SCIENCES STUDENT ADDRESS
PRESIDENT’S MEDAL FOR OUTSTANDING UNDERGRADUATE STUDENT
Daniel P. May
Daniel May has earned a bachelor of arts in public relations and advertising, attaining a 3.94 GPA while participating in the Muriel A. Howard Honors Program.
May has built an exceptional record of academic excellence, citizenship, campus involvement, leadership, and career preparation and achievement during his years as an undergraduate student at Buffalo State. With a unique ability to track down and conceptualize the obscure and the sublime, he conducted faculty-mentored academic research on the Buffalo Germans basketball team that will be included in a forthcoming book as well as in the files of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.
Driven by a passion for sports, May works as the sports editor for Buffalo State’s student newspaper, the Record, and hosted a sports radio talk show on the student radio station, WBNY-FM 91.3. He was one of two students from a field of 250 candidates to earn a national internship with the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio, in summer 2022. He also works as a game day AV assistant with the Buffalo Bills broadcast department.
In addition, May serves as president of the Buffalo State chapter of the Public Relations Student Society of America. He also advocates student concerns as the student representative on the Buffalo State Council and as a senator, justice, and administrative vice president of public relations for United Students Government.
Beyond the university, he has served as a core team member with the middle school youth ministry program at Our Lady of Pompeii parish, leading children through faith-enrichment exercises as an educator and mentor. He is socially responsible, dedicated to his community, and an excellent example of a student leader.