URI senior commencement speaker finds service, involvement keys to success

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Kingston, RI – May 4, 2009 – University of Rhode Island senior Andrew Blais has found that getting involved enhanced his college experience. His participation in many different facets of campus life made him the ideal student to represent his class as senior commencement speaker.

“Service to others was bred into me. I get it from my parents who are both school teachers,” said the Eagle Scout. “I was so fortunate to be able to help others while also earning a college degree.”

The West Kingston resident served as a tutor in the Mentor/Tutor Internship program, which sends URI students to K-12 schools, after-school programs and adult-learning programs throughout the state to tutor students with academic need and serve as an understanding friend. Blais mentored at Oak Lawn School in Cranston.

The 22-year-old is also a mentor in Jumpstart, a national non-profit organization that trains and supports college students to serve as part-time AmeriCorps members. In this program, Blais works directly with young children in early education programs. He was a co-team leader of eight URI students at the Beautiful Beginnings pre-school in Providence.

Since his freshman year, the journalism and political science major has been a reporter or production manager with the Good Five Cent Cigar, the URI student newspaper. The graduating senior is a brother of the Lambda Chi Alpha Fraternity, serving terms as vice president and secretary. He was elected two consecutive years to URI’s Inter-Fraternity Council and served a term as secretary and a term as parliamentarian. He also worked 15 to 20 hours per week at the URI Computer Help Desk and became a team leader.

“The best way to experience URI is to get involved and seek out what you want to do,” said Blais, who holds a black belt in karate. “The more you get involved the less you want to leave. There are so many great people on this campus and so many great opportunities.”

Blais, a Centennial Scholar, was selected to be the senior commencement speaker by a special committee within URI’s Student Senate.

“I want to wrap up my college experience in a meaningful way,” said Blais. “The opportunity to speak at graduation gives me a way to encompass everything I have done at URI in one day.” He said that he enjoys speaking in front of groups and has a vast amount of speaking experience thanks to his various roles with the URI Greek Community and Jumpstart. However, he said he expects to be nervous.

After graduation, Blais, son of George and Catherine, will continue serving others in either the AmeriCorps or Peace Corps. “Service is really important to me. I want to give back,” he said. “I have been so fortunate in my life and I feel this is my time to give back to the world that has given me so much thus far.” Following his volunteerism, Blais plans to attend law school.

Pictured above

Andrew Blais

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