URI student awarded $1,000 scholarship from Melanoma Foundation of New England

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Brittany Puccia . Photo by Jessica Vescera

KINGSTON, R.I. – May 3, 2017 – University of Rhode Island student Brittany Puccia has been honored for her skin cancer education efforts by the Melanoma Foundation of New England, which awarded her a $1,000 scholarship.

“I was so honored. I didn’t expect to win. You are competing against many other universities. I was just shocked and humbled.”

The nursing major and Mansfield, Mass. resident had already been involved in educating students about skin cancer, but became even more committed when her father was diagnosed with melanoma.

“My dad had melanoma. It’s the reason why I started to get into it last year, with last year’s (URI’s Your Skin is In) ambassador’s help. So I wanted to take on more this year,” says Puccia, “My dad was so proud.”

Her father is now in good health, but Puccia wants to continue to raise awareness about this disease and educate people about health. The URI senior, who will earn her bachelor’s degree May 21, has worked in the Health Education Department of Health Services to promote health events on campus. She has also promoted the wellness clinics and developed promotional pamphlets and posters.

URI and the Melanoma Foundation have been working together for 10 years. Two years ago, the foundation created the Your Skin Is In ambassadorship program. Ambassadors take on numerous responsibilities, all of which Puccia embraced. The ambassador’s role is to educate people about melanoma, the most dangerous type of skin cancer, and show young people the importance of protecting their skin.

Ambassadors are encouraged to go out in their communities and ask people to sign pledges saying they will be safe in the sun, both indoors and outdoors. They compete against colleges based on the number of pledges they receive.

Puccia collected more than 700 pledges and won the regional competition that led to her scholarship.

Even after URI’s commencement, Puccia will “continue to educate on this issue. I want other people to know about melanoma, and that catching it early is the most important factor. I always say I want to shut down the tanning beds!”

Sarah Saltiel-Ragot, an international student from Sciences Po Rennes in France and an intern in URI’s Department of Marketing and Communications, wrote this press release.