Graduate Feature: ‘When Life Gives You a Gas Station’
Set to graduate this Saturday, Drama student Connor Lara talks about his dream aspirations
South Texas College Drama student and grad-to-be Connor Lara believes in storytelling and bringing characters to life. From his early days working the graveyard shift in local gas stations, Lara said his experiences shaped how he approaches his art.
Harboring a fascination for people and a deep appreciation for storytelling, Connor Lara is setting his sights on a career in acting and screenplay writing.
Given the gift for writing from an early age, and always armed with a knack for identifying story structure in everything from films to plays and poems, Lara said a natural creativity and limitless ideas carried him through his early school years.
Upon graduating from Nikki Rowe High School in 2014, Lara said he immediately entered the workforce and held a variety of odd jobs over the course of four years. He worked at La Plaza Mall at Aeropostale for a stint and later waited tables before getting put on the night shift at a local convenience store.
One night at work, Lara said he came to the realization that he deserved more from life.
“I was working at a gas station at the time around 3 a.m. and I was working graveyard shift when I had to clean the restrooms. That was pretty much when I decided that yeah, this isn't for me anymore,” Lara said. “I was really just kind of all over the place until maybe 2018 when I at least wanted to do something, anything. I was tired of the grind.”
Entering STC at the age of 24, Lara said he moved between majors for awhile first settling on English, then business and marketing, political science, philosophy and finally back to English. Nothing seemed to fit, Lara said.
But by choosing to study Drama, Lara said he fulfilled a fascination with the people he met in every job he ever undertook.
“I worked in the customer service industry for a long time whether it was in gas stations, as a waiter or as a retail person folding clothes at Aeropostale, and the one thing that always drew me to those job choices was the people, talking and having conversations. It goes hand-in-hand with my career choice in drama,” Lara said. “It's not enough to just watch and scribble and learn. You have to get out there and have these conversations with people. You have to have uncomfortable conversations, difficult conversations, easy conversations or fun conversations. They all fueled my inspiration for writing. I was influenced by everyone around me.”
“I worked in the customer service industry for a long time whether it was in gas stations, as a waiter or as a retail person folding clothes at Aeropostale, and the one thing that always drew me to those job choices was the people, talking and having conversations. It goes hand-in-hand with my career choice in drama."
Lara will walk the stage on Saturday and will be among the 3,100 graduates who will receive degrees during South Texas College commencement ceremonies May 6 and May 7. Graduation will be comprised of five ceremonies taking place at the Bert Ogden Arena.
Lara said he is eyeing the University of Houston and their Bachelor’s of Fine Arts Program with an emphasis on Playwriting and Drama.
As he prepares for the next stage in his education, Lara said one of his greatest experiences at STC was having the opportunity to write an adaptation of William Shakespeare’s Othello but with a modern twist. His play “Cypress Video” converted the classic Renaissance-era production into a mid-2000s video store setting and opened to much success.
“I'm really glad that I had that opportunity, and most notably that I was able to work with one of our professors, Marcy Garza, who always thinks outside of the box, which is kind of ironic because we quite literally had people in boxes in that show,” Lara said. “This is the one thing I know in and out of. It's innate and it's inherent. I have to do it and I have to create. So getting into theater is really cool because – not only are you telling this story, but you're bringing it to life and you're bringing it to people, making it more palatable, making it three dimensional and this is what draws me to learn all aspects of storytelling.”
Graduation ceremonies will be streamed live on both days.
For the livestream and more information including requirements or dates and times please visit www.southtexascollege.edu/graduation/.