“Unconventional.” For business administration and psychology double major and marketing minor junior Lukais Sciandra, that is the one word that can sum him up.
“I don’t usually go by the book,” Sciandra said. “I think differently, and—from a superficial standpoint—I’m biracial, adopted, super young and my name isn’t even spelled right.”
Sciandra’s family adopted him when he was just three months old. Having three other adopted children—all of them of different ethnicities—Sciandra’s adopted family is very diverse. Sciandra’s adopted parents have always supported him and his adopted siblings through everything, from academic choices to Sciandra’s search for his birth family.
Early on in his academic career, Sciandra found that school did not pique his intelligence enough and subsequently ended up skipping a grade. “When I was in elementary school, I was very bored,” Sciandra said. “I mentioned this to my mom, so she signed me up to take some aptitude tests. The tests said that there would be no adverse effects to me skipping third grade. As an eight-year-old that sounded like a great idea, so my parents started looking at schools around Buffalo. Eventually we found one, and I entered as an eight-year-old fourth grader.”
While this was the right decision for him, Sciandra has mixed feelings about being the youngest in his grade. “I hadn’t thought about the implications of being a year younger than everyone in my class,” Sciandra said. “I was the last person to be able to drive, the last to work and, fun fact, I will not be 21 when I graduate from college. I will just have to make up for it with a belated celebration one month later, on my birthday!”
Sciandra also met his birth parents on his 19th birthday last summer. With the support of his adopted family and the help of the adoption agency, he tracked down and met his birth family.
“I really wanted to find out about myself,” Sciandra said. “I had sort of an identity crisis growing up, living in a home with so many different races. I guess I wanted to see myself in other people, physically and mentally. I just wanted to know who I looked like and see what I had gotten from them.”
Sciandra looks back on meeting his birth family with great fondness. They have provided him with another group of people to connect with, who are equally supportive of him. His birth mother even supported him before they formally met each other.
“She was able to find me on Facebook because of how uniquely my name is spelled,” Sciandra said. “She saw that I was playing varsity soccer in high school, and she actually came to a couple of my soccer games in Buffalo—her hometown. She didn’t come to meet me, but the thought that she came to show her support was really touching.”
His college life has not been devoid of meaningful experiences, either. Sciandra sees his pledging of the Kappa Sigma fraternity as his most memorable experience thus far. “Joining Kappa Sigma transformed my college experience for the better,” Sciandra said. “I was looking for a way to connect with other people and grow as a person; being in Kappa Sigma has really been a catalyst in my ability to achieve that goal.”
After college, Sciandra plans on utilizing his degree to pursue a career in marketing. To prepare for this, he has become a brand ambassador for Coca Cola and has plans to work on a co-op with Johnson & Johnson Pharmaceuticals.
Until he graduates, though, Sciandra can be found eating his favorite food—which is pasta—working hard on his marketing ideas and doing everything in his power to remain “unconventional.”