Laugh Out Lyle

SA vice president works joyfully, thoroughly despite obstacles

The Spectrum

A picture of Po from Kung-Fu Panda sits on Student Association Vice President Lyle Selsky's office door. The panda is posing in kung-fu fashion, but instead of Po's face, there is a photo of Selsky grinning, complete with a drawn-on green mustache.

SA Treasurer Siddhant Chhabria said Selsky has been known as "Kung-Fu Panda" ever since they started working together.

With Selsky's goofy nature, curly "fro" and physique, Chhabria said Selsky fits the bill of a panda's image. The nickname stuck, and the office memorialized it with the picture on Selsky's door.

Much like Po, Selsky's charisma and goofy nature are evident to those who know him. His office is constantly filled with SA staff asking questions or just looking for conversation. Beyond the silly reputation, Selsky is efficient and dedicated to his work and passions.

In the winter break of Selsky's freshman year, his father passed away from a heart attack. Selsky said it was very sudden and it didn't sink in until a long time after.

When this happened, his mother, Nancy Selsky, said her son was "courageous and he really rallied." Instead of taking time off from school, Selsky stayed with his studies and continued to be strong, she said.

Selsky said, growing up, his father instilled leadership qualities in him.

"He's doing what his father did," Nancy said. "His father took on some leadership roles in his lifetime, and I just feel like Lyle is following in his father's footsteps and even going beyond [where] his father had gone. And it's a real honor to his father, too."

Despite the hardship, Selsky has tackled his passions at UB headfirst.

After becoming SA vice president - and interim president when Nick Johns resigned on Sept. 18 - Selsky went beyond his duties and, at the same time, remained a source of morale for the SA office.

Selsky grew up in Ardsley, N.Y., - in Southern Westchester County - where he met his childhood friend Eric Shear. Shear said Selsky has remained the same "goofball" since they met.

"You'll never see him smiling normally in a picture; he's always like that goofball making some ridiculous face," Shear said.

They met in first grade, and after Selsky moved away the following year, they stayed friends through summer camp. Shear remembers a moment from camp that he said describes Selsky.

"We had this Australian girl come, and she said that she had to be friends with Lyle when she saw him," Shear said. "On the first day, he was sitting in a lawn chair, reading a book, holding a pocket watch and listening to smooth jazz ... that's Lyle in his natural habitat."

Selsky's easy-going attitude in social settings comes from his role as a stand-up comedian. His first show was in high school in front of his peers. He expanded his talent by performing at bars and clubs.

"I like talking, and one of the things that can happen is, I don't recognize what I'm saying half the time and sometimes it's just really goofy and really funny, so I decided to run with it," Selsky said.

Nancy said, at the time, she wasn't aware of her son's stand-up comedy routines in high school. One day, she was flipping through the channels on TV and came across Selsky doing a bit on an area channel. She didn't expect to see that, and she said Selsky is always surprising her.

"I always say, 'I would love to be a fly on the wall and see him,'" Nancy said. "He did some stand-up in high school and didn't tell me about it."

After getting involved with SA, Selsky said he doesn't have as much time to focus on stand-up comedy, but he'd love for it to be his future career.

James Dybiz, Selsky's childhood friend from Eastchester, N.Y., said Selsky became popular in high school through the eccentric roles he would play in theatre. Selsky was involved with many afterschool activities and even picked up the piano, trumpet and viola.

Dybiz, however, thinks Selsky started to thrive once he came to UB.

"I feel like he really found himself in college because the lifestyle that he had in Eastchester was somewhat limiting to him," Dybiz said. "Being away and independent in college gave him the freedom to really experiment with parties and true socialization and it flourished under him."

Nancy, who is a UB alumna, said she knows, considering the size of the school, how hard it is to find a niche at UB. She is impressed with how thoroughly Selsky has immersed himself in the school.

"I don't want to give him a swelled head, but I told him I'm proud of him, but maybe he doesn't know how much," Nancy said.

Chhabria works with Selsky every day and said Selsky has an infectious presence in the office.

"People can connect with him really well, and that's the kind of people we need in this office," Chhabria said. "I can keep saying good things about the guy but, it's like, you have to actually be there to notice what kind of a guy he is - one of a kind."

During Johns' resignation, Chhabria said Selsky helped ease the office's atmosphere and never let the stress get to him, though he was occupying the roles of vice president and interim president. They worked together on logistical matters, but it was Selsky's work ethic and dedication that helped them all get past the distraction.

When asked if he considered running in this fall's election for the new president, Selsky answered, "No shot in hell." He feels that being the bridge between SA clubs and administration is what he is best suited for.

Selsky, a fifth-year senior double majoring in history and economics and minoring in political science and education, said he might go into education after graduating if stand-up comedy isn't an option, but he is still figuring his future out.

"At the core, I'm a pretty simple person," Selsky said.

Despite his stressful responsibilities, Selsky has remained steadfast and comprehensive in his work. And, like Po, he has shown there is always room for a laugh.