URI announces student leadership award recipients

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KINGSTON, R.I. – April 18, 2012 – The University of Rhode Island recognizes students who have done an exceptional job balancing academics, involvement, and volunteer work with the A. Robert Rainville Leadership Awards.

For over 25 years, the URI Office of Student Involvement has honored students who have achieved success in leadership endeavors and rigorous academics. Students are nominated for the awards by faculty, staff, or fellow students and then required to submit an application form with their academic information and leadership experiences.

The A. Robert Rainville Student Leadership Award, Student Servant Leadership Award, Student Employee Leadership Award, and Student Team Leadership Award were presented to the recipients at a banquet in the Memorial Union Ballroom on April 3. The awards are named in memory of A. Robert Rainville, a former vice president for student affairs who served as a mentor to many students during his six years of service.

This year, there were two recipients of the Student Leadership Award, Anthony Aiudi of Woonsocket, R.I. and David Coates, of Narragansett, R.I. Aiudi, a pharmacy and master’s in business administration student, received this award based on a variety of leadership experiences, including serving as president of the Student Alumni Association, a brother in the Kappa Psi pharmaceutical fraternity, a co-instructor and advisor in the URI 101 mentoring program, a resident assistant, and an orientation leader.

“College is a time to learn,” Aiudi said. “While classrooms are devoted to studies, involvement is devoted to personal growth. My involvement at the University has helped me grow and mature into someone who is ready to make a difference in the world.”

In addition to his on-campus involvement, Aiudi has participated in many community service and other activities. While balancing academics and part-time jobs at pharmacies and hospitals, he has volunteered with URI Emergency Medical Services, Relay for Life, and the Science and Math Investigative Learning Experiences (a science and math after-school program for elementary school students), among others.

Coates, a political science major, admits that he had a bit of a rocky start when he enrolled in the University. After having recovered from a brain tumor in high school, Coates was able to enter URI through the Talent Development program. He struggled to manage his time during freshman year, and his grades suffered. When he returned to campus the following fall, he decided to change his attitude toward academics. In addition to focusing more on his studies, he joined the Student Senate and served as president in 2011, the Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity executive board, and the Peer Advocate program.

“I do not tend to believe that leadership is an attribute one is readily born with, and I do not believe that it is something that can be easily learned or taught,” said Coates. “It is something that can be elicited or awakened from an individual… URI has made me who I am.”

The A. Robert Rainville Student Servant Leadership Award was presented to Scott Andrews of Saunderstown, R.I., a political science major, in recognition of his membership in Habitat for Humanity, the URI College Democrats, and URI Students Actively Volunteering and Engaging in Service. Andrews has taken on leadership roles in all of his on-campus endeavors, introducing new events and features to each organization. He also was an intern with U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse in Providence in 2009 and Washington, D.C in 2011.

Andrews believes that political science studies, in conjunction with volunteer work, served as a foundation for learning how to improve society and people’s lives.

“Volunteering in non-profit and social justice work for the last three years, I learned that politics is fundamental to create structural change,” said Andrews.

Joseph Wilbur, a political science student from West Greenwich, R.I., received the A. Robert Rainville Student Employment Leadership Award for his experience working as the club sports office manager and home events supervisor in Recreational Services at URI. After holding this position for four years and gaining direct experience in the financial and managerial aspects of the department, Wilbur has decided to pursue a career in campus recreation.

He said that his work experience has helped him to grow as a person as he has gained valuable professional skills for any career. Wilbur believes that student employees should always take ownership in their work.

“Everything you do as a student employee is a reflection of the department you work for and the University as a whole,” said Wilbur. “This is our campus; the place where we’ve spent some of the best years of our lives. We should do everything we can to make it a welcoming and comfortable environment.”

The Student Alumni Association, one of more than 100 student organizations on campus, was chosen to receive the A. Robert Rainville Team Excellence Award. The organization works under the advisement of Michelle Fontes-Barros, assistant director of Alumni Relations, with the mission statement “Students helping students… past, present, and future.” The Student Alumni Association plans various student events on campus every year, including the popular traditions Rhody Rally and Oozeball, a mud volleyball tournament. The close-knit group works together for all Student Alumni Association projects.

“I believe our organization, delegation, and spirit as a whole are the reasons that our organization is capable of putting together truly outstanding events and traditions,” said Danielle Giacobbe, communications chair. “Without the dedication of every member in our organization, we would be unable to succeed.”

Executive board members include: Anthony Aiudi, Danielle Giacobbe, Chris Aiudi, Amanda Waldeck, Tim Viall, Mackenzie Hofman, Danielle Ouellette, Chip Redihan, Chelsea Dodge, Catherine Liu, Stephen Petrarca, Rob Marshall, and Alexis Durfee. General members include: Alex Pryor, Alicia Castro, Amanda Lessack, Amanda Maione, Amanda Read, Amandine Gatali, Amy Jurczyk, Andrea Durant, Andrea Giacobbe, Becka Coolong, Becky Hall, Brendan Duckworth, Brian Ouellette, Casey Holden, Charlie Woodward, Chris DeSanto, Chris Perry, Christian Gill, Christina Wallitsch, CJ Sanchez, Colm Moylan, Connelly Clifford, Emily Pezzullo, Eric Cruz, Erica Cusumano, Erin Larcom, Erin O’Brien, Evan Connolly, Geri Buderwitz, Gina Caramadre, Greg Kelly, Jeff Reinker, Jess Havas, Jessica Lawler, Jillian Flynn, Joe Ryan, Josh Desabris, Kara Matook, Katie Irwin, Kelley Fillion, Kelley Willis, Kelly McGuinness, Kevin Drumm, Kristin Orabone, Laura Graffittii, Leah Walsh, Lindsay Costa, Margaret Fox, Meg Shaffer, Megan French, Merita Nezaj, Mike Lukas, Nick Kleiner, Nikki Serra, Olivia Pittius, Paige Clarkin, Rain Kaur, Sam Dougherty, Sarah Gwyn, Tory Turano, Tyler Malo, Whitney Jones, and Zack Boucher.

Pictured above:

TEAM EXCELLENCE: Some members of the Student Alumni Association pose with their advisor, Michelle Fontes-Barros, and URI President David M. Dooley after receiving the A. Robert Rainville Team Excellence Award.

This release was written by Danielle Sanda, an intern in URI’s Department of Communications and Marketing and a public relations major.