By Tris Lashea ’22
UNC Asheville alumna Davi Cheshire didn’t have to go far from campus to find her chance to change the world.
Cheshire graduated from UNC Asheville in May 2019 with a double major in sociology and Spanish. She now works for BeLoved Asheville, a non-profit organization working to help and change the Asheville community through unique ideas targeting social issues.
“BeLoved is an intersectional community working to solve problems like homelessness, poverty, and racism, using the skills and assets that we bring as individuals and collectively to connect the dots that often aren’t connected by the systems that are already in place,” Cheshire said.
Cheshire started working with BeLoved as an intern through the UNC Asheville Sociology Department.
“It didn’t feel like an internship. It felt like coming home in a lot of ways,” Cheshire said. “Especially coming to Asheville and only having a community as defined by UNC Asheville, it felt like that connection outside of UNC Asheville that I had really been craving. So I stayed involved as I was still a student after the internship, and I now have an AmeriCorps position in volunteer management.”
Cheshire helps with many projects in the organization, but her title is the volunteer coordinator. She stays in touch with volunteers and helps with events, getting food and helping with the Elders Free Farmer’s Market at the Senior Opportunity Center in downtown Asheville every Wednesday.
“The nature of it is pretty dynamic and multifaceted, which I really like,” Cheshire said. “ I don’t show up and sit down and do the same thing every day, which is how I roll already.”
According to Cheshire, sticking to your passions as well as really listening to what excites you can lead you to something amazing, even if it’s risky.
“Put as much time as you’re putting on LinkedIn or Handshake on the screens, put just as much time into making human connections, and whether you think they’re going to serve you in some way or not, being surrounded by like-minded people will help you in some way in building community,” Cheshire said.
Cheshire said the UNC Asheville liberal arts education and her sociology degree has helped her with her job. The open-minded view and development of analysis that she learned here helped her look at the root of systemic issues such as poverty and race.
“I feel that it conceptually made so much sense to me in the classroom, and being in the outside world made me have a broader understanding that you couldn’t understand just through reading books and going to lectures,” says Cheshire.
Cheshire said she appreciates the professors that pushed deep discussion, brought in guest speakers and encouraged them to go to events around campus and Asheville, and to go beyond the classroom.
According to Cheshire, doing community work is a long commitment lifestyle and career that can take a long time to make a difference, but it is extremely rewarding.
“I’m so, so new to that game and so I felt that for a while I only cared about certain things in Asheville, but staying here made me feel like I already have my foot in to actually start to change those things in a bigger way,” Cheshire said.
“I’m just really thankful for UNC Asheville. I just feel like it very much prepared me, which is the idea. I’m glad that it served me in a really opportune way.”