Giavonni Lucas ’95 remembers the moment he found his voice on the Heights. It was in January of 1993 – the middle of his sophomore year. At the urging of a classmate, Lucas and some friends took the lead in organizing Le Moyne’s Martin Luther King Jr. essay contest. He soon found himself taking a central role in the College’s annual M.L.K. Day celebration, speaking before his peers, professors and members of the Greater Syracuse community about the late Civil Rights leader’s legacy. Lucas has gone on to find great success personally and professionally. In June, he was installed as the president of the Le Moyne College Alumni Association Board (A.A.B.), a position from which he will continue to share his voice as a representative of all the College’s alumni.
It was during his undergraduate years that Lucas not only found his voice, but also emerged as a leader. In addition to his work surrounding the M.L.K. events, he served as a member of the Student Government Association and a resident adviser. He learned to appreciate the many wonderful traditions that come with studying at a Jesuit college, while also helping to initiate new ones, including the formation of Le Moyne’s first Gospel choir, Voices of Power. Looking back, what Lucas remembers most about this period of his life is becoming comfortable speaking out about the things that matter most to him. Lucas credits the Higher Education Opportunity Program and the African American, Hispanic, Asian, Native American Program, as well as the leadership of Carl Thomas ’65 and Yvonne Caine, with being the pillars of development and success at Le Moyne for him and many other students of color.
“Those are the lessons that have stayed with me,” he says. “Le Moyne prepared me for the real world.”
Lucas has carried his undergraduate experiences with him throughout his professional life. As the vice president, P and C Learning and Development, at Nationwide Insurance, he embodies what it means to build relationships, work well under pressure, and model socially responsible leadership. Now, 28 years after helping to steer the College’s M.L.K. celebrations, Lucas is once again leading on the Heights in his new role as A.A.B. president. His chief goals include working with the College and its Office of Alumni and Parent Programs to identify the needs and interests of Le Moyne graduates, especially alumni who are Black, indigenous or other people of color and may have lost their connection to their alma mater.
“It is important to me to be able to give back to my alma mater in this way because of the crucial role it played in my formation,” he said. “There is no other time in your life when you will have this opportunity to expand your circle and to open yourself up to new people and new ideas.”
*Note: this feature appeared in the Summer 2021 edition of the college magazine, New Heights