KINGSTON, R.I — May 1, 2020 — Mohamed Chamseddine didn’t plan for the University of Rhode Island to change his life, he just wanted to go to a college that was close to home. But four years later, he’s sure it did.
Commuting from Middletown, Chamseddine spent most of his first-year away from campus, most days leaving right after his classes. Undecided on what to major in, he spent three semesters completing general education requirements and testing out his interests in a few business classes.
It wasn’t until he took a class in the fall of his sophomore year with Joe Estrella, a professor of supply chain management, that he decided to pursue the field as his major.
“He would give us real-life examples of how he managed his job and stories of his time in the field, and it was really inspiring,” Chamseddine said. “The way that he explained it to us, he was so passionate about what he did, and he really made me fall in love with the major and the subject. I learned that it was so versatile and that you can do so much with it. From then on, I was set on it.”
For Estrella, it was very easy to see Chamseddine’s dedication in the classroom and the field.
“He really took the classes seriously because I think he realized the more information he could garner here would certainly help him down the road in his profession,” Estrella said. “He is certainly motivated and has the proper work ethic. He’s just a terrific young guy, he really is.”
Once Chamseddine declared his major, everything seemed to fall into place. He joined Delta Sigma Pi, an academic fraternity for the College of Business, and was selected to be the chancellor. As chancellor, he was responsible for running the organization’s chapter meetings, keeping all the records and members organized and making sure all members were fulfilling the standards set by the national organization.
After he finished his year as chancellor, Chamseddine was selected as president of Delta Sigma Pi. However, what he is grateful for the most is that the fraternity allowed him to connect with other students.
“I joined because I wanted to meet people and I didn’t want to go to class ‘alone anymore.’ I wanted to get more involved,” he said. “So many doors were opened because of that, I really got to meet a bunch of people and have exposure to the other side of college.”
The opportunities didn’t stop there. Chamseddine was selected for the Business Student Advisory Council, which is mentored by College of Business Dean Maling Ebrahimpour, and was chosen to be the student representative to the Alumni Advisory Board. In September 2019, he was invited as an attendee to a conference in Las Vegas and met chief executive and chief financial officers from major companies across the United States.
“It was all a chain reaction, and happened because I got involved and because of the work I did,” Chamseddine said. “When I got to present to the Alumni Advisory Board, just being among them and presenting to them, it was just amazing.”
At the same time this was all happening, Chamseddine suffered a tragic loss. His father died after suffering a head injury, and Chamseddine quickly had to reengineer his life so that he could help his mother run the family business. The family has owned a deli and convenience store in Newport for 25 years.
“I had to step up and help my mom, and do the behind the scenes accounting and banking for the business,” he said. “I was balancing everything, and had to deal with school and with loss.”
Throughout it all, he remained committed to his studies.
“For him to become the student that he is, especially after going through all of that, shows a lot of fortitude,” Estrella said. “He wants to excel, and he wants to do well.”
Chamseddine also relied on the University for a great deal of support from the faculty and Dean Ebrahimpour. He realized just how much URI had become his home.
“I explain this to the people I meet at conferences and my friends who go to other universities, the people here really do care about you,” Chamseddine said. “If you take the time to get to know the dean or the assistant dean, they really do care and they want to see you thrive. When you put in the effort, the relationships you build are just invaluable. I never once thought about transferring from URI.”
When Chamseddine graduates in May, he is set with a job at the Naval Undersea Warfare Center in Newport, where he will be doing contract management.
Although COVID-19 has significantly changed the ending to his senior year, he is happy with what he has accomplished and how he spent his time in Kingston.
“It’s definitely a sad thing to deal with, but you can’t blame anybody,” he said. “I’m thankful for all the time I had at URI, and I really tried my best to work hard and learn as much from my professors and the administration as I could.”
Ian Weiner, a senior journalism major and intern in the Department of Marketing and Communications, wrote this story.