URI honors student leadership excellence at Rainville Awards

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KINGSTON, R.I. – May 21, 2014 – The University of Rhode Island honored many of its undergraduate student leaders last month at the 26th annual A. Robert Rainville Leadership Awards ceremony.

The URI Office of Student Involvement presents the awards to students who have shown exemplary leadership and teamwork skills while maintaining a strong academic standing. After faculty, staff, and fellow students have nominated them, the nominees are asked to submit an application describing their accomplishments and two letters of recommendation.

Four awards are presented: the A. Robert Rainville Student Leadership Award, Student Employee Award, Team Excellence Award, and the Robert L. Carothers Servant Leadership Award. The first three awards are named for Rainville, who served as the vice president for Student Affairs from 1980 to 86 and who was considered a friend and mentor to students. The Servant Leadership Award is named for URI’s 10th President Carothers, who served for 18 years.

This year’s recipient of the Student Leadership Award is Katie L. Gallagher of Wakefield, R.I. A senior with a double major in psychology and gender and women’s studies, Gallagher received the award for her accomplishments in community service and academic and extracurricular organizations. She served as president of the Psychology Club for two years, as the founding president of Students for the Advancement of Gender Equality, as a peer advocate and is now vice president for URI’s Psi Chi honor society chapter. Through these years, she has also participated in the annual “Out of the Darkness Walk,” and served as an undergraduate representative at Majors Fairs, Welcome Days, and Student Involvement fairs for the psychology and gender and women studies departments.

Gallagher finds community service a passion and hopes to become a social worker. “Helping others is a mission that resonates with me. Had I not had the chance to serve as a leader in organizations that cultivate social change, I don’t think I would have fostered such a vibrant sense of purpose within me,” she said.

Senior marketing major, Paul Knott of Saunderstown, R.I., received the Student Employee Award. Knott has been the tour guide program coordinator for undergraduate admissions since 2011 and has spent summers helping to coordinate URI’s orientation family program. “Being a tour guide truly opened my eyes to how much I had grown to love the school I attended in such a short time. Four years later, I now maintain the position of program coordinator and oversee the program executive board and all 105 tour guides. The leadership opportunities that I have been given have allowed me to develop as an employee in ways that I never could have imagined,” said Knott.

As an additional acknowledgement of Paul’s accomplishments and his contributions to the URI community, he was selected as Senior Speaker at URI’s Commencement ceremony this year.

“I feel as if I have gained a lifetime’s worth of knowledge from these experiences,” said Knott. “I have been able to grow as an employee, a learner, a friend, a mentor, and a leader. I have been able to discover confidence, develop skill, and find passion in what I am doing. Most importantly, I have figured out what I want to do for the rest of my life.”

Lanh Dang, a 5th year Pharmacy student of Lawrence, Mass., received the Robert L. Carothers Servant Leadership Award. Dang embodies this leadership approach in many parts of her personal and academic life. She has co-coordinated two RI Alternative Spring Break trips, and completed a 300-hour AmeriCorps term of service including time with the free clinic Clinica Esperanza/Hope Clinic in Providence. In addition, she is a member of the Student National Pharmaceutical Association, Phi Lambda Sigma (Pharmacy Leadership Society) and Rho Chi (Pharmacy Honors Society). Lanh is an admired leader in the Feinstein Civic Engagement Program & Clearinghouse for Volunteers having been active in the office for four years.

“Lanh is truly a servant leader,” states one of her references. “Through paid and unpaid experiences, Lanh has spent her time as a student at URI improving the lives of others and providing opportunities for hundreds of students to do the same.” She has diligently and tirelessly served her community with humility, humor and grace. As another reference states, “her impact and influence on URI, specifically the Clearinghouse for Volunteers (and its leaders and staff), will live on for many, many years to come.”

URI’s Student Entertainment Committee (SEC) received the Team Excellence Award. The ultimate goal of the SEC is to unite URI’s campus. According to the organization, the SEC “aims to bring together all students by providing diverse forms of entertainment that appeal to the masses. In order to gage what entertainment the student body is looking for, SEC holds four subcommittee meetings weekly and strives to use information from these meetings to provide affordable, enjoyable, and easily accessible forms of entertainment.” In the past, SEC has collaborated with URI Hillel and the Harrington School of Communication and Media’s Humor Symposium Committee to put on events such as “Stand Up to Peace,” and “Last Ram Standing.”

Executive member, junior Lyrisa Meizanis, is very grateful for the work and experiences she has been a part of with SEC. “This organization has provided me with some of the most remarkable and memorable experiences of my whole college career thus far. Through my ability to work on the executive board, I have gained some great skills in retention, interpersonal communication, team building, and collaboration. The family like atmosphere of our organization is something I look forward to being a part of every single day.”

Organization members include: Sarah Moffitt, Peter Collins, Melanie Tomlinson, Lyrisa Meizanis, Surya Moreira, JT Todd, Maura Quigley, Robbie Butler, Meredith Peabody, Michelle Caramadre, Elizabeth Malloy, Taylor Kohler, Jakob Frenette, Kristin L’Esperance, Eric Kretsch, Paul Knott, Taylor Roy, Kaan Yarar, Kristen Gregory, and Jethro Glaudin.

Photo captions:

A. Robert Rainville Student Leadership Award: Katie L. Gallagher of Wakefield, R.I. The graduating psychology and gender and women’s studies major received the award in recognition of her community service with numerous academic and extracurricular organizations.

A. Robert Rainville Student Employee Award: Paul Knott of Saunderstown, R.I. The graduating marketing major received the award in recognition of his work as the tour guide program coordinator for undergraduate admissions since 2011. Knott was also the student speaker for the class of 2014.

Robert L. Carothers Servant Leadership Award: Lanh Dang of Lawrence, Mass. The fifth year pharmacy student was acknowledged for her work developing two RI Alternative Spring Break trips, completing a 300-hour AmeriCorps term of service and related leadership with the Clearinghouse for Volunteers.