When Monet Lewis’s little sister, a dancer, balked at a post-surgery regime prohibiting strenuous exercise, Lewis told her, “It’s a minor setback that will lead to a major comeback.”
That’s when Lewis realized her superpower: the passion to encourage others to live out their dreams. She will share what she’s learned from her own dreams when she joins seven other presenters at this year’s TedX Youth @ Buffalo, which will be held on Tuesday, April 19, from 8:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. in the Campbell Student Union Social Hall. Buffalo State and Chartwells are gold sponsors of the event.
Mayor Byron Brown, '83, President Katherine Conway-Turner, Vice President for Student Affairs Hal Payne, and host Adriana Viverette-Gamble will provide the conference's opening remarks. Lewis will speak during the held the conference's second session beginning at noon. View complete conference schedule.
Lewis earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Buffalo State in 2015 with concentrations in management and marketing. That’s no small achievement for a young woman from a low-income background who is also the first in her family to go to college. Lewis overcame another obstacle, too: When she was seven, she went into the foster care system for six years. Now she’s pursuing a master’s in interdisciplinary studies, combining creative studies and business courses to prepare for her long-term goals.
She is quick to credit her mentors from the college-bound achiever program in her high school, In-Tech Academy in the Bronx. “They encouraged and supported me,” she said. “They did so much more than talk. I give back now by serving as a mentor to current In-Tech students.”
At In-Tech, Lewis prepared for college. “I didn’t use college to figure out my life,” she said. “I saw college as a way to take control of my life.” She dove into her studies and got involved in extracurricular activities, reaching out to her professors every step of the way. She served as president of the student American Marketing Association, which led her to help market the Weigel Center’s “I Love Consent” program. She’s became a peer counselor and now works there as a student assistant. She also serves as a senator-at-large for the Graduate Student Association and a graduate assistant in the Equity and Campus Diversity Office.
Her experiences at Buffalo State have helped her sort through the many things she’s passionate about to imagine her own career path. “I’d like to work for a corporation as a diversity officer,” said Lewis. “Embracing diversity means being able to respect others’ differences and honoring them. Organizations have to learn to value what other people can bring.”
She serves on the president’s council on equity and campus diversity. There, she met Lisa Morrison-Fronckowiak, director of Disability Services and a founder of TedX Youth in Buffalo. “Lisa encouraged me to give it a try,” said Lewis.
Lewis’s talk, "The Power of Being a Dreamer," is about working hard to live your dream, even if it gets derailed. “And you don’t have to have a hard or sad backstory,” she said. “Everybody’s dream is different, even though most dreamers want to be better than their current selves. You have to hone your own skills, figure out what you want to do, and ask for help while you work really, really hard to make your dream come true.”