URI senior first from family to earn college degree

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KINGSTON, R.I. – May 12, 2009 – Stephanie Pati’s parents worked hard for years to ensure she would have opportunities that were not there for themselves. On Sunday, she will march at the University of Rhode Island graduation ceremonies as the first member of her family to graduate from a four-year, degree-granting university.

“I don’t really think about it too much, but I am really proud,” Pati said. “I have a little brother, so it is important to me to be an example.”

The importance of her accomplishment is not lost on Pati, a textiles, fashion merchandising and design major from Warwick.

“My mom came from Portugal, so she didn’t get that opportunity to really go to college,” Pati said. “My dad grew up here, but he also didn’t get the opportunity.”

Her parents worked. With the work ethic of her parents – Stephen and Maria – instilled in her, Pati worked the entire time she was in school. Most weeks, she worked at least 25 hours at Chelo’s Hometown Bar & Grille in Warwick.

Through one of her professors, Martin Bide, Pati interned with Bureau Veritas Consumer Products Services in Taunton, Mass. The experience opened her eyes to a new side of fashion.

“When you think of fashion, most people think about style,” Pati said. “You don’t always think about all of the other aspects that go into it.”

With Bureau Veritas, Pati got experience with the laboratory testing side of fashion, researching products from several well-known brands for product flammability and wash durability. When she first arrived in the textiles department, Pati thought she wanted to be a fashion designer. Now, her interests lie in the merchandising, retail and testing side of the industry.

Her work in the classroom gained notice too. As a junior, Pati – who also minored in Human Development and Family Studies – was honored by the textiles faculty with the Textiles, Fashion Merchandising and Design Alumni Scholarship.

“With my major, it sounds silly almost, but it was like a family,” Pati said. “You know everybody here. All of my professors were awesome. They just made it so much fun to be here.”