URI recognizes outstanding students with Rainville Awards

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Kingston, R.I. – April 29, 2016 – The University of Rhode Island honored four undergraduate student leaders at the 28th annual A. Robert Rainville Leadership Awards ceremony held recently on the Kingston Campus.


The Division of Student Affairs’ Office of Student Involvement and Center for Student Leadership Development presents the awards each year to students who have shown outstanding leadership and teamwork skills, while maintaining strong academic performance. This year’s recipients are Kelsea Adams of Coram, N.Y., Servant Leadership Award; Jennifer Scotti of Warwick, Student Employee Award; Brendan M. O’Keefe of North Kingstown, Student Employee Award; David Cummings of Bedford, N.H., Student Leadership Award; and the URI Powerlifting team, Team Excellence Award.


Below are the details about each recipient:


Kelsea Adams, a senior elementary education and biology major, received the Robert L. Carothers Servant Leadership Award. Adams’ involvement at the University and in her community has been extensive and diverse. For example, she is a part of Jumpstart, Best Buddies, Civic Engagement Leaders, and Inspiring Minds. Jumpstart is a national, non-profit organization providing an early education program to preschool children in low-income neighborhoods. Best Buddies is an international non-profit organized to build one-to-one friendships with individuals with and without special needs. Civic Engagement Leaders facilitate various community service projects with college students, and Inspiring Minds tutors elementary students. “Kelsea has proven herself to be a responsible, dedicated and enthusiastic individual,” said Holly Hernandez, Jumpstart URI site manager. “Her organizational skills and attention to detail are key strengths, in addition to her commitment to service and her outgoing personality,” Hernandez said. Throughout her years at URI, Adams has maintained a 3.72 grade point average. Her academic excellence has been recognized in various honor societies, including the Phi Eta Sigma Honor Society, the National Society of Collegiate Scholars, and the Kappa Delta Pi Education Honor Society.


Jennifer Scotti is a junior majoring in political science and psychology with a minor in gender and Woman’s studies. The Warwick resident has been awarded the A. Robert Rainville Student Employee Award. Since 2014, Scotti has been a resident advisor in Aldrich Hall, a residence hall for upperclassman. “Working as an RA has shaped me into the person that I am today,” said Scotti. “I was full of curiosity and ambition, but now I have confidence and a strong voice,” she said. As a resident advisor, it is Scotti’s job to help create, and maintain a comfortable, respectful and inclusive living environment that fosters academic, social and personal development and success for students. On a monthly basis, Scotti and the other residential advisors hold social activities to bring the students of Aldrich Hall together. Beyond being a residential advisor, Scotti was an intern for Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse in Providence. At URI, she serves on the student senate as an on-campus representative. Scotti has also worked as a social media intern for the URI Department of Psychology.


North Kingstown native Brendan O’Keefe is a senior finance major who received the A. Robert Rainville Student Employment Award in recognition of his work as a building manager at the Memorial Union. Though he started without strong leadership skills, through many hands-on experiences he was able to advance his communication skills and work outside of his comfort zone. O’Keefe is now the senior building manager of the Memorial Union. “Today I practice a leadership style built through the strategy of cultivating strong bonds with others through one-on-one conversations and interactions,” said O’Keefe. In addition, O’Keefe has maintained a 3.24 grade point average.


David Cummings of Bedford, N.H., a senior environmental science and management major, received the A. Robert Rainville Student Leadership award. Honored for his strong involvement with and commitment to many student groups, Cummings is also the senior captain on the URI men’s swimming and diving team. “Being a part of a team that I had very little knowledge about pushed me to my limits when it came to time management,” Cummings said. Cummings has been a member of the Gay Straight Alliance for several years. Being president of Bridges and active with the Student Organization Leadership Consultants cultivated his talent for advocacy of issues of inclusion and equality. “Being a part of different organizations has taught me a lot about myself and where my values lie,” Cummings said. After graduation, Cummings will pursue a career in environmental studies.


In the course of one year, the URI powerlifting team expanded from 12 to 55 members, placed 10th in the Collegiate Nationals, first in the New England Regional and won the A. Robert Rainville Team Excellence Award. Aside from these accomplishments, the powerlifting team has offered students an opportunity to foster development, friendships, and self-improvement physically, mentally and interpersonally. The powerlifting team devotes its Saturday mornings to training and teaching aspiring powerlifters with mental, physical and cognitive disabilities. This commitment to service makes this team more than an athletic group, It turns its members into servant leaders who encourage and support each other to work collaboratively, lead by example, and be better people.


Dom LaFerrera, an intern in the department of marketing and communications, and a communication studies major wrote this release.


Photo by Michael J. Nolfe with the Office of Student Involvement