After coming to Drexel in the fall of 2014 through the Liberty Scholars program, I was determined to make the University my new home. Although my family was right down the street and willing to help with anything and everything, I decided to not go to them for everything to establish my independence. This was easier said than done of course. I oftentimes ran into common issues of navigating the academic abyss such as the most typical one of a freshman: "how to find good food?" But after a few weeks, I did get adjusted and I then set out to make some new friends.
I wanted to connect with other students from a similar place of understanding as myself. People whose lived experience and habitus would be very similar to or even the same as mine. Hence, I started to look for a Black student organization on campus where this dream of connecting with others with a similar world view would come true. It was much to my dismay to find that such an organization did not exist on campus. This longing for such an organization went on to my sophomore year. So, I decided to stop waiting for someone else and follow the slogan of my alma mater Boys' Latin Charter School and be the "architect of my own fortune" by founding the Black student organization at Drexel. In this case, an organization with a ton of very successful students discussing very personal issues (i.e., facing racism, addressing media misrepresentation of people of color). I already had experience founding a club at Drexel from my freshman year when my close friends Nino Avreyski, Wayne Bischoff, and I founded the Drexel Rotaract Club of Rotary International. So I knew all of the proper steps to take to make it happen as swiftly as possible.
The following month after I came up with this grand idea, the Drexel Black Action Committee was founded. It was a ton of work to get the organization fully functional, but I was able to do it. In regards to our events though, it took a ton of creativity, ingenuity, and innovation to have them, with a new event every week. It was only through the help of a ton of future leaders that these events were possible. My founding board helped me significantly with organizing these events. The founding board included eleven people: Kiera Wynder, Alexis Martin, Amber Rockson, Isaac Singleton, Che Benjamin, Stephen Bady, Mariah Hicks, Jailyn Poindexter, Kris James, and myself. We hosted prom dress giveaways for underprivileged young women, did a clothing drive for Haiti after their infamous 2016 hurricane, attended Philadelphia City Council Criminal Justice Reform testimonials, and much, much more. It was all of this hard, selfless work that allowed us to be featured on local and national television time and time again.
To date I've been hailed by the University's previous and current provosts, Dr. James Herbert and Dr. Brian Blake, as a dynamic leader. I've been honored as an ambassador to the trailblazing State Representative Margo Davidson Esq., and even assigned to be the College Student Recruiter for Drexel University's State Representative, Ms. Donna Bullock Esq. Most proudly, I was publicly honored by the best attorney in the entire state of Pennsylvania for the last decade, Mr. Thomas Kline Esq. on Pennsylvania Cable Network (PCN) for a district attorney debate I set up with Dean McGovern at the Drexel Kline School of Law.
Looking back on my freshman year when I was a timid young man I would not have thought any of this was possible. But because of someone believing in me enough to give me the Liberty Scholars full-tuition scholarship, I was able to have a high level of confidence and sense of value instilled in me that allowed for me to pursue my dreams. I am forever thankful for Drexel, and the Liberty Scholars program in particular, for providing me with the opportunity to do so much over the last three years in my 21 years of life. For it has been an amazing platform and spring that has propelled me forward on a trajectory of much success.
Shahmar Beasley (Class of 2018) is a Political Science major from Philadelphia, PA.