By: Kyla Pecchia
As some RIC students begin preparing for graduation this May, many others are waiting eagerly in anticipation for the day they can walk the stage and receive their hard-earned degrees. The big question, however, is what to do after leaving Rhode Island College and beginning a new chapter in life. The moment students receive that diploma, they are no longer students – they are alumni.
Located in the lower level of Roberts Hall, the Office of College Advancement is working to reach out to Rhode Island College’s current alumni network, which is not an easy undertaking. With approximately 61, 000 listed alumni, it may seem impossible.
Kate Brezina, executive director of alumni affairs, and her staff work diligently all year to do just that. In her capacity as executive director, Brezina is charged with working with the Alumni Association in planning the annual Alumni Awards Dinner.
The dinner celebrates accomplishments of RIC’s alumni with six alumni awards that are presented annually to graduates and community leaders for their personal and professional attainment and service to the college and the community.
The top honor, Alumna of the Year, will be going to Deloris Davis Grant; ’88,’94 MAT, Viola Davis’s sister. In her tenure at Central Falls High School, Davis has touched the lives of countless students and colleagues. Davis co-founded the Upward Bound Scholarship, a program of which she was a graduate at RIC, as well as a tutor and mentor. Davis joins the ranks of several other well-established members of the RIC community who are also receiving awards, such as head men’s basketball coach Bob Walsh, District 7 State Rep. Maria Cimini and Jason Blank, associate professor and president of RIC/AFT – just to name a few.
In a second award category, Honor Roll recipients are recognized for their achievements in their chosen fields and their distinction as role models whose success demonstrates the value of a RIC degree. Each department selects the top achievers in their respected fields and will honor those achievements at the ceremony. In addition to the Honor Roll recipients, seven students have been awarded scholarships as rising stars in their departments. This is an element of the alumni awards that has never been done in the past.
“The college would like to draw a connection between the alumni and our current students,” said Brezina, “so the Alumni Association has worked with the Office of Alumni and College Relations, along with the five college schools, to recognize seven outstanding students with the scholarship.”
Each scholarship is for $1,000, and each student will accompany their respective alumni award winner the night of the event and hopefully make connections that will last a lifetime. These rising stars may one day win an alumni award themselves.
Michael Gravel, Philip Johnston, Jennifer Petracca, Brittany Richer, Robert Santurri, Karen Smith and Michele Tenaglia are the seven students who have been recognized for their achievements. All seven student recipients are members of the Class of 2013.
“It is really difficult to balance everything, but it is our duty and our obligation to represent ourselves and Rhode Island College,” English department award recipient Philip Johnston said in a phone interview.
He added that it is the duty of this year’s student recipients to let other struggling students know that they, too, can achieve what the successful seven have achieved during their time here.
“You can do it,” said Johnston.
This year’s banquet is taking place this Thursday, May 10 in Donovan Dining Center.