URI names Smithfield resident student commencement speaker

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Erica Richard to discuss ‘The Five People You Have Met at URI’

KINGSTON, R.I. –May 11, 2010—When Erica Richard enrolled at the University of Rhode Island, she was less than enthusiastic. Recruited by other schools, she picked URI because it made economic sense.

What a difference four years make. This month, the 21-year-old Smithfield resident will stand on the commencement platform before thousands and extol the virtues of getting an education at URI as the student commencement speaker.

Her well-conceived speech takes its lead from Mitch Albom’s book, The Five People You Will Meet in Heaven. Her talk, The Five People You Have Met at URI, focuses on the types of people who influenced her and her peers.

“There’s so much to do at a school that’s so close to home and so close to your heart,” she said in a recent interview when asked what advice she would give to another Rhode Islander choosing a college.

Although her freshman year got off to a bumpy start, Richard’s impressions of the University changed after she began taking leadership courses and became active in the student organization, We’re Offering Women Wisdom, known by the acronym WOWW.

WOWW has 50 women members who mentor female freshmen. The mentors come from almost every major. “The point is to be there for someone, to help with the transition into college and help make connections,” says Richard who was WOWW president this year and secretary of the organization for the past three years.

Richard came to URI with a full semester of college credits from Smithfield High School. She took six courses each semester and completed three internships.

She was a member of the Business Student Advisory Council of the College of Business Administration. She was a facilitator in the North Woods Challenge Course, a leadership program that promotes the values of trust and teamwork.

The marketing major with leadership and art minors, hopes to combine her interests in a career, perhaps working with art for a non-profit heath care agency, eventually becoming an art therapist. She loves photography and drawing.

She is not the first in her family to earn a degree at URI. Her great grandfather, Robert Strong ‘26, grandfather Al Richard ’59, father Jeffrey Richard ‘81, aunts Carolyn Jane ’85, and Laurie Horstmann ’81 all wore Keaney blue.

Pictured above

Erica Richard

URI Department of Communications & Marketing photo by Michael Salerno Photography.