When Lucas Colón first arrived on the Buffalo State campus, it wasn’t just his first experience on a college campus—It was his first experience in any kind of institutional school setting.
Colón was taught solely by his mother in his Amherst, New York, home. Coming to college, especially one located in the middle of the city, was daunting at first.
“Adjusting to a faster, more bustling lifestyle was a challenge,” he said.
It’s a lifestyle he’s come to embrace. Now, in his final year at Buffalo State, Colón is flourishing in his double major of fiber arts and theater with a geography minor. He’s president of Casting Hall Productions, the student-run theater production company. He’s also an orientation leader, and he’s a leading member of the student improv group Friday Night Live.
“I didn’t do much my freshman and sophomore years, but as I got more connected to campus, I made more friends. I felt more confident,” he said. “That’s probably reflected in my getting the job as an orientation leader my junior year. I finally felt confident to show who I was.”
"...as I got more connected to campus, I made more friends. I felt more confident.”
Bringing It All Together
One reason he chose Buffalo State was its commitment to the arts. Although he knew he wanted to major in fiber arts, he didn’t discover theater until his junior year.
“Whenever critiques would happen in my art classes, I had a lot of difficulty speaking about my pieces,” he said. “I thought, what better way to learn to speak publicly than to study theater?”
After taking one theater course, he was hooked. He discovered he had a range of talent — from acting to providing musical accompaniment to singing. When the Introduction to Musical Theater course was canceled his junior year, assistant professor of theater Jennifer Toohey encouraged him to go ahead and take Musical Theater II.
“She pushed me out of the gate to do my best, to study really hard, and learn the necessary techniques,” he said.
Likewise, art and design lecturer Gerald Mead encouraged Colón to take his work to the next level.
“One of the assignments was making business cards. I was content with a generic business card with my name and phone number on it, nothing special. I’ll never forget that (Mead) held it up in front of the class and said, ‘This may get you a job, but it doesn’t really sell you.’ That hit home. The next day I brought in business cards that had my artwork as a background image and really showed who I was as a person.”
On Becoming a Leader
Colón also has expressed his true self in one of his favorite campus experiences: serving as an orientation leader.
Because he was so nervous when he started his Buffalo State journey, he felt compelled to introduce new students to campus. It also was a daunting experience at first.
“The students were terrified because they just joined campus, and I was terrified because I had never led more than two people around campus and there were 35 people all looking to me for instruction,” he said. “Both the group and I kind of went on that journey together. I found my leadership. They found their place on campus.”
He said he continues to love the role because he gets to meet new students and watch them bloom into upperclassmen.
“To realize I was the first person they saw,” he said, “that I was their first connection to the campus is so powerful.”