Luke Newman was 15 years into his 20-year career with the Army when he realized his true passion was art.
"Everything that I did I was trying to tell a story, and I changed my future plans from continuing in Department of Defense and Homeland Security and all of that to, I'm going to make pretty things for the world," he says.
"Now that I'm here, the creative people that I've met, the staff, the faculty, have done nothing but confirm that I made the right choice," he says.
Luke was initially concerned about pursuing an undergraduate degree as an adult and as a first-generation college student, but he quickly realized UB was different with its diverse student body ranging from freshman just out of high school to adults decades from it.
It also has a strong veterans population that made Luke more comfortable. He has been able to meet students with similar interests and backgrounds through The Bob Parsons Veterans Center on campus.
"What I like about the vet student body here is that it's not an overbearing thing. Military isn't their entire life. Every student here, including the vet population, is really focused on their academics and it helped me stay focused," he says.
Luke was able to transfer credits he earned during his military career so he didn't have to start over. He also was able to receive a transfer scholarship that helped cover costs during his first two years at UB, stretching what he also received through the post-9/11 GI Bill and a state scholarship for veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan.
"I haven't had to pay for anything," Luke says. "The scholarships and additional funding allowed me to focus 100 percent on school."
Getting started at UB was easy, he says.
"I did basically everything online, so it was super intuitive and it was just easy," he says. "The best thing about it I would say is the staff in the admission and bursar's office were super helpful when I did have questions. I was able to go and talk to somebody face to face and get answers, the same day usually, with anything that might have come up."
One of his first classes was the Business of Being an Artist, which helped Luke realize he was in the right place to achieve his eventual goal of running his own art business.
"A lot of artists go to art school but don't get any education the business side or working with nonprofits or whatever, putting that part to a use and it sounded like the Integrated Arts program was that and that's what I was looking for," he says.
Luke has enjoyed making connections with classmates that have similar passions and professors with real experience he can draw from.
"Outside of the actual curriculum, the professors impart a lot of their real-world knowledge and can tell you you're going to learn this and this is how it really works, too," he says.