Anyone who paid even the slightest attention to the SGA elections last semester has heard of Anthony Safadi.
Seen wearing a blond wig reminiscent of Donald Trump and urging students to make UCF great again, it was easy for students to assume that he wasn’t taking the campaign seriously, let alone that he was serious about life in general.
“He seems like someone who can’t take anything seriously,” said Sarah Abed, a junior double majoring in psychology and elementary education. “The similarities to Trump’s campaign frustrated me. Anytime I saw his posts to the class Facebook page, it made me scared that people would actually vote for him.”
However, Safadi is nothing like his Trump persona when it comes to real life. Safadi said he wasn’t aiming to parody Trump but wanted a creative way to draw in more voters.
“I decided to run for student body president because there was nothing more I could do as a justice,” Safadi said. “I had established precedent [that] any first-time offense on a parking ticket would be waived and, in that meeting, I made the decision that [the precedent] was the most I could probably do in that position, and I walked out deciding I would run for president two days before the deadline.”
Safadi, a senior double majoring in biomedical technology and biomedical sciences, said he ran for president because he wanted to have a greater impact on UCF and show students that he’s just an average person who strives to do above-average things.
He also wanted to protect the small businesses in the Student Union and require members of the SGA cabinet to sign Federal Education Records Protection Act waivers that would have made information regarding their conduct public.
Before Safadi was a justice, he was a part of the Senate Leadership Council. All throughout his time there, he was involved with medical community service as a certified nurse aid and medical assistant.
In high school, Safadi mainly focused on sports: football, soccer and tennis. It wasn’t until college that Safadi got involved in the political world and, in his words, “realized the importance of taking advantage of opportunities.”
He went on a mission trip in high school, but in college, he started attending more medical mission trips and volunteering. Safadi even started his own fundraiser to feed school children in the Dominican Republic for a month. The fundraiser ended right before he started his campaign for president.
A year ago, Safadi went on another medical mission trip to the Dominican Republic, where he befriended the founder of Village Mountain Missions, Bill Benson.
The organization does more than provide medical attention; it also provides education.
“A lot of the kids there drop out after or around second grade, and one of the [reasons] why is there’s really no reason to go to school,” Safadi said. “But by giving them a meal, it’s usually the only meal of the day, so it encourages them to go to school and to learn, and hopefully they’ll stay in school longer. Or at least long enough to develop the necessary skills to take them a little bit further in their life or continue that education and instill that drive in them at a young age.”
Safadi finds inspiration in Catholicism, believing that “if God gives you gifts, you should use them to your full potential and take advantage of any opportunity to help others.” He summarized his belief system as, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you,” something that may be recognized as the Golden Rule.
Safadi said it’s important for him to always carve out time to spend with friends and family. Safadi’s girlfriend Sorcha Rice echoed that sentiment, saying that Safadi spends a great deal of time working to help his friends succeed, and worries about whether they’ll reach their dreams and if they’re all right.
“I think he would rather his friends succeed than he would succeed,” Rice said. “He’s always trying to look out for everyone else.”
Besides feeding children, Safadi and Rice regularly volunteer at the Wildflower Clinic, a free medical and dental clinic in St. Augustine that serves low-income or unemployed individuals.
The two work also with Dining with Dignity to provide individuals with medical care and food. Dining with Dignity works to provide homeless individuals with a hot meal while treating them with respect.
His long-term goals include working to raise enough money to feed 40 students in the Dominican Republic for a year, becoming president, CEO of a medical company, or a lawyer and doctor.
Most recently, he’s been attending Kung Fu classes at the local Wah Lum Temple on Goldenrod, which may or may not be related to his love of Bruce Lee.
Safadi is also working as a medical assistant at UCF and studying to become more fluent in Arabic and Spanish.
How does he do it all?
“I think of myself as an average person who does above average things,” Safadi said.
Why does he do it all?
“Giving back is important to me because, at the end of the day, I won’t be remembered for how much money I make or how many awards I accomplish or accolades I obtain,” Safadi said.
People will remember you for how you made them feel, Safadi said, and he just wants to leave a legacy that can act as an example to others.
Alissa Smith is the News Editor for the Central Florida Future. Follow her on Twitter at @thealissasmith or email her at AlissaS@centralfloridafuture.com.