Take a look at the video announcing the location of the nation’s newest Presidential Library, in Chicago’s South Side, and you’ll see Daweed Abdiel ’19, playing his trombone and talking about the importance of community. And in a strange but true sort of way, you could say that it was the stars that led him to his cameo appearance.
Abdiel found his connection with the stars in a roundabout way. He entered an Upward Bound-associated program at the Kavli Institute for Cosmological Physics at the University of Chicago, which placed him at the Yerkes Observatory at Lake Geneva in Wisconsin. He was tasked with creating guiding questions for groups of fellow high school students, which he led through the observatory three times a day.
“The Kavli Institute actually extracted and cultivated my interest in astronomy and physics,” said Abdiel of the experience, which brought him benefits beyond the realm of astrophysics. “I became more assertive, more comfortable with public speaking, problem solving and analysis.”
“I became more assertive, more comfortable with public speaking, problem solving and analysis.”
That Kavli Institute link to Upward Bound was key to Abdiel’s role in the video. Upward Bound led a successful letter-writing campaign to support locating the Presidential Library in Chicago’s South Side.
And when the time came to make a video announcing the location of the library, Upward Bound suggested Abdiel as someone who would help represent the community in all its diversity. That video is now a small piece of national history.
Abdiel is already looking forward to exploring a wide variety of topics as a student at Denison. “Chemistry, physics, economics, black studies, sociology and mathematics — I want to take classes in each of these before I commit to a major,” said Abdiel, who also plans to continue his music on the trombone and to join the Black Student Union.
Watch the full video below: