URI senior Sheaffeel Gedeon is a kinesiology and biology double major and a 4 year member of the University’s D.R.I.V.E. organization. Photo by James McIntosh.

Sheafeel Gedeon knew he wanted to join the University of Rhode Island’s Diversifying, Recruiting, Inspiring, Volunteering, Educating organization (D.R.I.V.E.) before he even started his freshman year. 

Gedeon grew up in Brockton, Massachusetts, and took part in D.R.I.V.E.’s multicultural overnight program while he was in high school. The program allows high school students to get some experience with campus life at URI before committing to a school. Gedeon went on to host this program for other students during his time at URI. 

“I’m definitely a people person,” Gedeon said. “I like having an active role helping people adjust [to the University] and being able to be a support system for other students.” 

Gedeon, now a senior at URI, is double majoring in kinesiology and biology, on track to become a physician’s assistant. His time working with D.R.I.V.E., where he currently serves as its secretary, inspired him to add a minor in leadership studies as well.

Maya Moran, a URI senior majoring in psychology with a minor in leadership studies, agreed that everything Gedeon said about himself is true. 

“We were a part of D.R.I.V.E. together as well,” Moran said. “[Gedeon] quickly became one of my best and most trustworthy friends. He is a supportive, hilarious, hard-working and intelligent individual. He is someone who brings people together and is a positive influence.” 

Gedeon also works as a resident assistant and emergency medical services (EMS) professional. Additionally, he recently started working at an assisted living facility, where he helps to improve the quality of life for those living there. He said that working at the facility has been a big help for his kinesiology major.

According to Gedeon however, being in D.R.I.V.E. comes with a lot more responsibility than just being a part of fun activities. The organization works within the University as well as statewide to actively diversify the community and the state of Rhode Island. They do this by visiting grade schools and spreading awareness to the next generation of college students on what the undergraduate experience is like. 

“[URI] needs to work on diversifying many areas,” Gedeon said. “Both academic-wise and funding-wise, it’s hard for multicultural organizations. I feel like we’re always stepping on eggshells talking about our experiences.”

 Gedeon said that there are many things he wished the URI community knew about the Black experience. 

“I feel like advisors don’t understand that people have different backgrounds and see different funding, and they just put every student into one big pool,” Gedeon said. “I don’t really go to my advisor for that exact reason. I go to talent development because they have a lot more people of color there. I just wish advisors knew that everyone has different backgrounds, and not every student has equal opportunities, and not everyone is automatically on the same playing field.” 

Gedeon has big plans for himself during his last semester at URI and his last semester working as the secretary of D.R.I.V.E., even with the limitations put in place due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“One change I’d like to see before I graduate is just for there to be a continuation of education on these topics to work to diminish the ignorance,” Gedeon said. “I also want to see the incorporation of mandatory diverse classes and workshops in the curriculum for each major so that we can all be more aware of what’s happening in minority communities.”