Any University of Miami student that has been around campus for the last two years knows about Kemy Joseph. They may not know him by name, but they certainly recognize him by the homemade signs he wears daily.
“I’ve never actually met [Kemy], but as a freshman or sophomore when I first started seeing him around I was taken aback by someone who was putting himself out there so much,” senior Ben Cathey said. “I really feel that the impact that Kemy has made on the campus has helped to raise our school’s profile more than almost any other tangible thing. I think he really has activated the campus.”
Joseph began wearing signs back in the beginning of his junior year at UM. Approximately 600 signs later, he is celebrating his two-year anniversary of wearing signs by reaching out to the student body and hosting a marathon of hugs, peaceful pounds and high-fives every Thursday across the UM Coral Gables campus.
“It’s my open invitation to anyone to come and feel the love,” Joseph said.
For Joseph, now a first-year graduate student in the School of Education, it has always been about showing love to the place that has showed him so much love. The messages on his signs are a celebration of all his experiences and he said that most of those experiences occurred here on campus.
It was an on-campus experience that led Joseph to initially start wearing signs two years ago. He was studying the “Hero’s Journey” method of storytelling in his script writing class, which, according to Joseph, describes how a hero comes to learn how they can help people besides themselves and contribute to the greater good of society.
“I was thinking about how to be a hero in my own life,” Joseph said. “I wanted to tell people that they were awesome, so the signs started going from there. [The signs] are a reminder to me to remember the things that I am saying.”
Joseph’s first sign said “U R Awesome” and later became the slogan for Random Acts of Kindness during his presidency of the club. Wearing signs to spread positive messages to other people has also motivated current RAK president Gustavo Lang to action.
“I felt inspired by this idea of getting a message out there,” Lang said. “You learn something new every day, so each morning I would write down a quote about something I learned the day before. I wore my first sign on the day of [Kemy’s] graduation.”
Joseph is encouraging other students to wear their RAK shirts and their own signs on Thursday. His goal is to get out and reach as many students as he can between 9 a.m. and 11 p.m. To meet Joseph on campus Thursday, send him a text message at 786-897-5903 or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Meredith Reilly may be contacted at email@example.com.