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Wednesday, April 24, 2024
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Daniel Ovadia and His Impenetrable Spirit

On March 31, 2011, one life took an unexpected turn.

As the Student Union roared with cheers from the triumphant VOICE Party, Daniel Ovadia, the Blue Party's presidential candidate, remained humble in his defeat. Falling short by 781 votes, it slowly sank in to Ovadia that he would not be president of the Student Association for the following school year.

But the disappointment at the loss of the election did not penetrate Ovadia's persistent spirit. He inhaled a new air of confidence and took a long exhale of relief.

"It was so stressful [but] it was a great learning experience. I knew I wasn't going to win... but I still wanted to get my ideas out there," Ovadia said. "I thought it was important to continue and raise awareness for things,"

The 23-year-old junior in the School of Management has a spirit fueled by the thrill of overcoming challenges.

After graduating high school in 2006, Ovadia took a few years off to plunge into the work field before attending UB. For two years he worked at Armani Exchange in the Roosevelt Field Mall on his home turf in Long Island. He began at age 17, often times putting in longer hours than were permitted for a high school student.

"Danny worked day and night," said Stephanie Ovadia, Daniel's mother and role model. "In fact one night, I woke up at four in the morning and saw his car not parked at the house. I was hysterical and drove to the mall, but sure enough there was Danny helping with inventory."

After being the youngest employee to achieve a $1.5 million sales record, Ovadia left Armani Exchange and dabbled in some investment banking before jumping to the Queen City. He enrolled in the Fall of 2009 as a nontraditional student.

Ovadia joined the Undergraduate Academies his freshman year and lived with a community of Academies peers.

"I wanted to be a part of everything…I've always had an interest in civic engagement, doing community service and getting involved in the community, so I thought that'd be really cool," Ovadia said.

Joining the Academies ignited an energy within Ovadia that helped him become involved with other organizations at UB.

The following year, he reached out to SA and served as the community service coordinator, exercised his leadership as an RA, and joined Late Night UB.

Today he is vice president of the National Residence Hall Honorary (NRHH), juggles a second year RA position, continues to be a member of student programming for Late Night UB, and is involved in other committees; all while maintaining a good GPA.

Ovadia explains how his mother heavily influenced his busy lifestyle and strong work ethic. Her life teachings and self-examples of success encouraged Ovadia to strive to his best potential.

At 14 years old and the oldest brother of five children, Ovadia's parents separated, leaving his mother to raise six young children all on her own.

"I don't even think back to life when my parents were together because I don't have communication with my biological father," Oviada said. "My mom was so strong for all of us and she didn't let it get [to her]. I mean, it definitely upset her but she didn't let that stop her from doing what was best for us."

Ovadia's mother managed to juggle six children all while maintaining her occupation as a successful attorney.

"Danny has always been my right hand," Stephanie said. "He has always written me little cards and notes…just to say how proud he is of his mom…it has meant so much to me."

Being the oldest and newly appointed man of the household, Oviada felt a strong sense of responsibility to take care of his family.

"Everyone was so young at the time and I just wanted everybody to know that things weren't bad. I just wanted the family to know that things were still good. Just because our parents weren't together things weren't bad, they were just different," Ovadia said.

This desire to keep everyone level and happy was a characteristic that led to the person he is today. His passion for helping others is a value that he carries with him in everything he does.

After the VOICE Party was announced as the winners of the 2011 elections, Ovadia expressed that he wished to stay connected and share ideas with the new SA officers.

Half a year and a dose of courage later, those wishes became a reality. Ovadia sparked a relationship with SA this summer and helped set up a late night movie through SA for RA training. He also plans to run for SA senate and wants to remain an influential figure.

"I thought I could be helpful as president. That didn't work out for me so I'd still like to be helpful…I think the first step is always the hardest," Ovadia said. "If you do that, you realize it wasn't as scary as you ever thought… I went into the room with [SA], I talked to them, and it wasn't so scary and I had no problem going back."

Though the faces in the SA office are the symbols of his defeat, Ovadia did not allow fear of rejection control to his actions. He recognizes himself as a ‘middleman' between all of the organizations he is affiliated with. Through his spider web of connections, Ovadia hopes to be a positive resource to those in need.

"I want to make a difference. So many people have done that for me, and I want to help as best as I can and I like the people who go here, and I [hope to] be a part of UB when I graduate," Ovadia said.

He has already decided to dedicate scholarships to leaders of the Undergraduate Academies through his gratitude of how the program changed his life. Administrative Director Hadar Borden and Program Coordinator Danielle Kuroski have been significant mentors for Ovadia and are the individuals he intends to name the scholarships under.

"Dan is selfless," Kuroski said. "I think he's one of those people who genuinely want to help, and it doesn't matter to him whether he gets the recognition that he deserves or not, as long as he is able to achieve his goal."

Ovadia's relentless personality allows him to strive for what he wants, but it is ultimately the human connection that he values most.

"Every experience you have kind of becomes a part of you, even less positive ones," Ovadia said. "Either [my biological father] didn't care or he doesn't know how his actions impacted everyone, [but] I guess I try to be more conscious of how my actions impact everyone."

Ovadia's collection of life experiences encourages him to be the best he can be. He is an impenetrable spirit, striving for success through the shades of blue and white.




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