Tiraya Conyers ’15 is a health strategist and personal trainer for Equinox in midtown Manhattan. She is also the founder of Vanity Unedited Yoga & Meditation, teaching meditative practices to private and corporate clients – sometimes on the rooftops of New York City buildings. Conyers is this fall’s SUNY Oswego African, Latino, Asian and Native American (ALANA) Student Leadership Conference keynote speaker; she’ll return to campus and share her experiences and wisdom with students participating in the 31st annual multicultural educational leadership program.
When you came to SUNY Oswego, you were a kid from the Bronx coming to a rural college campus. What was that like?
Coming from the Bronx to SUNY Oswego was an exciting transition for me. I’ve always been really big on exploring the unfamiliar and stepping out on faith. I didn’t have the money or means to visit, so all I could go off of was the curriculum and the gorgeous campus images … and honestly, I was sold! Oswego looked like everything I imagined college would. It also seemed like the perfect balance for me with distance, diversity and opportunity. I truly love nature and running, so the campus size and lakeside view were also pluses!
I will always remember coming the summer before the fall semester officially began, as an EOP [Educational Opportunity Program] student. The upperclassmen were so passionate about student leadership and involvement and that stuck with me from day one to graduation. I will always love SUNY Oswego for offering me the opportunity to be great.
Once you settled in at SUNY Oswego, it’s clear you became highly involved, from track and field to serving as a prospective student tour guide to so much more. What’s behind your ambition and drive?
Coming from the Bronx, and having a really strict single parent mom, I used the opportunities at SUNY Oswego to find and express myself. The thing that I would always ask myself and keep in mind, having so many choices, was, “Is this going to enhance my life or resume?” If it did, I went for it.
Everything that I was interested in came from a passion, like leadership, empowerment and the Afro-Caribbean culture. Every chance I had to explore and express those interests in my free time, I did it! It began with running track, then ALANA organizations such as the African Student Organization, then larger organizations like the Student Association Programming Board, then tour guiding with the Admissions department. With each commitment I learned so much about myself and others; I just evolved and grew with each new role.
Following your graduation you returned to the city to work in the field of recruitment for international law firms. What was that job like?
In “Big Law” the recruiting season is everything, and companies want the top 10 percent from the top 10 percent (of law schools). I basically prepared for on-campus interviews, recruiting events, recruiting dinners and summer internships.
You went on to become a personal trainer, instructor and founder of Vanity Unedited Yoga & Meditation in New York City. How did that come about?
In NYC everything and everyone is so fast-paced, they often lose connection with their true selves in the process. It definitely keeps me busy and fulfilled knowing that I get to teach people how to let go and work with themselves in a more gentle and relaxing way, both mentally and physically. I work with all levels and backgrounds so that’s also really fun and keeps me on my toes!
You are slated to be the keynote speaker for SUNY Oswego’s ALANA Week Conference in September.
What does ALANA mean to you?
ALANA means cultural diffusion, love, art, empowerment and leadership … the epitome of diversity.