2010 in Review – The Student Experiences

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KINGSTON, R.I. – January 6, 2011 – Students are the lifeline of any college, and that is certainly the case at the University of Rhode Island. URI students have an impact here on campus and around the world as well.

From students spending their spring break in Nicaragua with orphans (pictured) to conducting research that allows cars to run on recycled cooking waste oil converted into biodiesel fuel, students at Rhode Island enjoyed enriching experiences throughout 2010. Here’s a look back a some of the top students stories from the last year.

Students help orphans in Nicaragua: Students from the URI Catholic Center’s Newman Club went to Nicaragua to help an organization called Mustard Seed build a new orphanage for disabled and abandoned children in Diriamba. Tomorrow another group of students will return to the area for what has become an annual outreach effort.

Juan Cano, road to success: Life was not always kind to Juan Castro, whose father was once kidnapped by rebels of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Columbia. As a teen, he moved to Pawtucket as an English-as-a-Second-Language student before enrolling at URI through the Talent Development program. In the last year, he completed a 9-month internship in France at Saint-Gobain, a global leader in construction markets and innovative building materials.

Gymnastics Club team wins national title: Just two years after the University cut gymnastics as a varsity sport, team members who started a club team on their own helped URI grab a share of the National Association of Intercollegiate Gymnastics Clubs championship in Texas last April.

Getting ready with LJ Que: During her summer break, senior LJ Que, a member of the URI women’s track and field team, spent time helping low-income high school students prepare for taking the SATs and applying to college as co-director of the White Plains, N.Y. branch of Let’s Get Ready!

Lights, camera, multi-media action!: Students from several different academic majors got a sense for how fun computer science can be during a summer abroad program in Taiwan. Professor Jean-Yves Hervè brought a team of URI students to collaborate with Taiwan’s Kun Shan University chamber orchestra to develop a 3-D concert experience with real-time motion capture animation.

Gassing up on fries: Senior Mike Bailey helped build a reactor that he uses to turn cooking waste oil into biodiesel fuel that powers his car. His impact on the University’s carbon footprint didn’t stop there, as his research and fuel conversion helped power equipment used by URI’s facilities department.

More than a good Samaritan: Freshman Patrick McKiernan was enjoying a day of boogie boarding at East Matunuck Beach when strangers asked for help rescuing a man struggling in the water. McKiernan’s quick actions saved the life of Ariel Villegas.

Books for South Africa: Graduate student Angela Carnevale’s spent her year introducing books to children and adults on a game reserve in Limpopo Province, South Africa. She started a book-mobile for the locals, getting donations and grants for more than 300 native-language books for the library there.

D.C. bound: Graduate student Erika Lentz became the first-ever intern for the science advisor at the National Park Service in Washington, D.C. Lentz spent six weeks starting in November working with NPS science advisor Gary Machlis helping determine ways to make decision-making in the parks more science-based.

Nuclear Champs: Despite not having a nuclear engineering major, a team of five URI students won the undergraduate division of the annual Student Design Competition sponsored by the American Nuclear Society in November.