Florida Atlantic University's first student-run news source.


Florida Atlantic University's first student-run news source.


Florida Atlantic University's first student-run news source.


From tragedy to triumph: The story of Raymond Adderly, incoming FAU Boca Raton campus governor

From witnessing his father’s murder to becoming the youngest candidate to ever pursue office in the Broward County School Board, Raymond Adderly, FAU theater sophomore and incoming FAU Boca Raton campus governor, advocates for youth in politics, encouraging aspiring leaders.
Courtesy of Raymond Adderly
Adderly at Kingspoint Democratic Club Luncheon

From witnessing his father’s murder to becoming the youngest candidate to ever pursue office in the Broward County School Board, Raymond Adderly, FAU theater sophomore and incoming FAU campus governor, advocates for youth in politics, encouraging aspiring leaders.

Adderly’s journey into the realm of politics was catalyzed by the loss of his father to gun violence during a home invasion when he lived in Miramar, Fla.

“At [6 years old], I was exposed to the worst thing that can happen in life –to lose a parent and to lose a parent in a violent way,” Adderly said. “I’m not anti-Second Amendment, but I am pro-gun safety and making sure that we make good choices. I’ve always wanted to help people because in that moment, I saw how voiceless I was.”

From the depths of adversity emerged a strong desire to make a difference. Despite claims that he was “too young,” his determination led to success in 2021 when he became the student representative for the Broward County School Board, the sixth-largest school system in the nation and second largest in Florida. Adderly ran against Donna Korn, a mother of three who had served on the school board since 2011 when he was 17 years old.

“I think the [main] challenge that I had [during the campaign] was that I was too young. Some people were not inclined to help me because I was too young, and I was just too new,” Adderly said. “I am a firm believer that young people are the future. I value what people older than me say, but in order for it to really be communicated to me effectively, I want to hear from someone within my age group. It’s that young person to young person connection that makes it better.”

Growing up, Adderly relocated across various cities within Broward County, Fla., transitioning from Miramar to Miami, then Fort Lauderdale, and finally settling in Coral Springs, where he resides now. 

Adderly served as class president for two consecutive years at Fort Lauderdale High School during his sophomore and junior years. In his senior year, he took on the role of student representative to the Broward County School Board. When Adderly sought the position again for the following year, he was unsuccessful. 

“No matter how young or how old I am, it doesn’t disqualify me from being an active observer,” Adderly said. “Being a student in the very school system that I was wanting to change made my opinion 10 times more valid than that of someone who’s been out of school for 40 years.”

As student representative for the Broward County School Board, Adderly prioritized the mental well-being of both students and teachers; specifically, his focus centered on enhancing school infrastructure and abolishing GPA and testing requirements for admission into magnet programs

To get into magnet schools in Florida, students applying must have a 2.5 GPA or higher and a Level 3 or higher on their Florida Standardized Assessment (FSA) for Reading and Math or a math End-of-Course Examination (EOC).

“I just feel that that is a systematic barrier that was put in place to keep certain students –i.e., students of Hispanic and African American descent– who don’t go to the best quality schools out,” Adderly said. “There is no reason why in a district as large as Broward County, there’s only one pre-law Magnet School, which is Fort Lauderdale.”

Another one of Adderly’s priorities as a member of the Broward County School Board was ensuring that schools maintain a balanced student-to-teacher ratio in classrooms. According to data from the Public School Review, as of 2024, the national average student-to-teacher ratio in public schools is approximately 15:1, while in Florida, the average ratio stands at 18:1.

“I think that the aspect of the student-staff ratio is very important because teachers in public schools are overburdened,” Adderly said. “I got a great education because there were only 15 of us in one class.”

Adderly’s political activism began early. In 2016, during Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump’s presidential race, Adderly campaigned by making phone calls to everyone he knew, urging them to vote for Clinton. By 2020, he had joined the Florida Youth Council for Joe Biden and served as a grassroots organizer with a Miami-based group called Cubanos Con Biden

“[Adderly] has always advocated for what he feels is right and necessary, and for holding ourselves accountable, even if it is unpopular or difficult. I wish more members of student government would have this perspective,” said Benjamin Cohen, Student Government chief justice at FAU. 

Cohen is an FAU history and political science major and worked with Adderly in the SG Boca Raton House of Representatives. 

“I feel like Raymond is the type of student that is very rare,” said Tikiya Henry, interim director of the First Generation Student Success at FAU. “I believe I can describe Raymond as a change advocate, a leader and someone who goes above and beyond to get the job done; one thing about Raymond is once he’s passionate about something, he will never stop until the mission is complete.”

Henry has been employed at FAU since 2021 and is Adderly’s mentor. Their relationship dates back to Adderly’s freshman year of college when he sought her guidance on involvement in student government. Henry, who also mentors numerous other students in SG or otherwise, is pivotal in addressing any questions or concerns students may have regarding their college journey.

“I feel like he serves as a great role model for students, and I’m very proud of him and his endeavors,” Henry said. “I can remember him coming here as a first-year student… just trying to figure out how to get involved and how to impact the community, and I can say… I feel like he has done a phenomenal job, and I wish him nothing but the best.” 

Adderly intends to go to law school and become an attorney upon graduating college. However, his interests extend beyond politics, as he decided to change his major from political science to theater last semester.

“I’m all about finding skills that are worth profiting on financially in the future,” Adderly said. “I think living in South Florida, which is where I intend to live, there’s just a huge industry for entertainment, especially for theater and film.”

Adderly has been involved in theater since middle school, also having performed in a few shows in high school. He auditioned for FAU’s Bachelor of Fine Arts Program (BFA) in Musical Theatre last semester, earning acceptance into the program. He is currently rehearsing for the upcoming production ‘One Man, Two Guvrnors’, which started its performances on Friday, April 12. 

The BFA in Musical Theatre is highly selective. It isdesigned to fully immerse students in an acting-focused curriculum encompassing voice, dance and performance,and prepare students for a professional career in theater. 

Adderly believes the skills acquired as a theater major hold value beyond performances and sees opportunities to transfer these lessons into a future career in politics.

“[Studying theater] is finding different ways to communicate an idea or a thought by using your body, your actions, your facial expressions, and your tone of voice,” Adderly said. “When you’re practicing in court, the object is to convey or argue your point to where either a judge or a jury is believing your side of the story. And so if you can create a compelling story within the courtroom, you’re already one step ahead.” 

Adderly was elected to serve as the next FAU campus governor during the recent Student Government elections. His term will start May 4 and end in May 2025.

Laurie Mermet is a staff writer for the University Press. For information regarding this or other stories, email [email protected] or DM laurie.mmt on Instagram.


View Comments (1)
More to Discover
About the Contributor
Laurie Mermet
Laurie Mermet, Student Life Editor
Laurie Mermet is a senior pursuing a bachelor's in multimedia journalism with a minor in public relations. 

Comments (1)

Do you have something to say? Submit your comments below
All UNIVERSITY PRESS Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  • R

    Ricardo de la FuentesApr 24, 2024 at 3:38 pm

    Great article,Well written and really immersive !