Metri Lyons, a senior theatre major, is a friend to many at Mississippi State University. Known by students for his involvement in multiple on-campus organizations and impeccable fashion taste, Lyons attributes his success and growth in self-expression to MSU's inclusive and diverse atmosphere.
Lyons was born in Bay St. Louis, Mississippi, near New Orleans, and he moved to Augusta, Georgia shortly after Hurricane Katrina devastated the Gulf Coast. He grew up a shy kid with a neutral high school experience. His transition from high school to college blossomed him into the Metri that MSU knows and loves.
"It was cool to come to Mississippi State because I mark this place as my Hogwarts. I came here and there were no limits as far as expression. I think [in high school] I was 50 to 60% myself ... and now I am creating the life I want to live at 100%," Lyons said.
Lyons definitely stands out among his peers at MSU in how his self-expression does not reflect that of a stereotypical southern boy. Even during his interview with the Reflector, he was approached by friends and strangers alike complimenting his outfit. He praises MSU for the optimism and openness he has seen during his time as a Bulldog.
"I keep this mindset: where I am is New York City ... which is why I have the confidence to wear a gown on campus with a McDonald's hoodie," Lyons said.
Lyons has gained popularity on campus due to his involvement in New Maroon Camp, State Dance Marathon, Brickfire Mentoring, French Club, Theatre MSU and Music Makers Productions. He also shows off his athleticism as Bully the bulldog at MSU football games.
He speaks fondly of the two organizations that have meant the most to him.
"Having the opportunity to bring live music [through Music Makers Productions] here and serve Starkville has been great. New Maroon Camp is the greatest organization in the world. There is something about planning and prepping for something for months and watching it come to life ... and to inspire young freshmen to want to do the same thing? There is nothing like it," Lyons said.
Many students would feel overwhelmed with this many organizations and commitments, but Lyons said he never feels like he has spread himself too thin.
"I had a lot going on, but with free time, I did absolutely nothing. So it was good to put my time and energy towards things that made a difference or impact. With all I was doing, I gave 100%, too," Lyons said.
If he had a scheduling conflict, he would make up for it by doing extra work or going in early or late, as well as contacting faculty advisors or friends to help him catch up.
Cameron Cleveland, a senior majoring in psychology and a close friend of Lyons, expressed why he believes Lyons is such an asset to all of these organizations.
"He's unapologetically himself. His personality is like none other, and he's extremely passionate about everything he does," Cleveland said.
Jordan Carter, a sophomore majoring in veterinary medical tech, recalled Lyons inspiring her to be authentically herself after meeting him at last year's New Maroon Camp.
"Metri is not trying to be anyone except himself, and I want to be the same way," Carter said.
His involvement in these organizations has grown his passions for theatre, music and language, which he feels all go hand-in-hand.
Lyons said he encourages students desiring to get involved to be patient and persistent. Like many freshmen, he was denied membership from many of his current organizations. But his persistence paid off in the long run, and he allowed himself to grow from the experience.
When asked about a role model who served as a trailblazer in his life, he attributed this role to Michael Jackson without a moment of hesitation.
"I look to him as being at the greatest level of perfection for his specific thing he does. He broke so many boundaries as far as race and gender identity and fashion. His work spoke for himself; he did not have to say a word ... with his work, he was not only getting it out of him, but giving it to other people. As an artist, I want to do the same thing," Lyons said.
If he could speak to the student body, Lyons said he would stress the importance of being part of a group that is made up of strong individuals.
"Create your own path," Lyons said. "Walk as an individual. People love when you are yourself ... when it gets down to the end of the road, you are not as well-liked or respected if you are a carbon-copy of someone else."