Advanced degree candidates are told to expect (and relish) the changes ahead

RIC President Nancy Carriuolo.
The stage set up at The Murray Center had to bear the weight of a lot of pride as candidates marched across during Rhode Island College’s advanced-degree commencement on May 19. In all, the college granted some 304 advanced degrees.

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Jennifer Mier of Pascoag, who received a Master of Professional Accountancy, described her degree as a “lifetime accomplishment and a fundamental stepping stone for success.”

The ceremony began with RIC President Nancy Carriuolo welcoming visiting dignitaries, faculty, the degree candidates, and their guests.

Carriuolo also announced what she expects will be a new college tradition. Degree recipients who serve or served in the U.S. military were given special recognition pins.

The president said, “We are proud of our student veterans and are especially delighted to share in the celebration of this academic milestone.”

She added that Rhode Island College is recognized as a veteran-friendly college.

Lorne Adrain, chair of the Board of Governors for Higher Education.
Lorne A. Adrain, newly appointed chair of the Board of Governors for Higher Education, attended his first RIC commencement and offered the graduates some advice gleaned from previous commencements at other institutions, including a quote from Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, who was seriously wounded in a shooting earlier this year.

Adrain quoted Giffords: “You cannot authentically live anyone's life but your own. That is the deal life offers us.”

He also presented some wisdom he gained from a sermon by the minister of his own church in Providence.

Adrain said, “Rev. Rebecca Spencer offered an idea on how we might imagine the purpose of life. She suggested that it might be to enjoy the world and change the world.”

During the ceremony an honorary Doctor of Humanities was presented to Patricia H. Martinez, a 1986 BSW graduate of Rhode Island College, and an honorary Doctor of Public Service to Sandra M. Powell.

Patricia Martinez receives an honorary doctorate degree.
Martinez was earlier this year named executive director for Family Support and Student Services at Central Falls High School. Previously she had served as director of the Rhode Island Department of Children, Youth and Families and as director of community relations in the Office of the Governor. In 2003, the RIC Alumni Association presented her with the prestigious Charles B. Willard Award.

Powell was chosen by Gov. Lincoln Chafee in January to lead the Department of Human Services, after serving for more than two decades in workforce development, most recently as the director of the state’s Department of Labor and Training. She also holds a Bachelor of Arts from the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University.

In addition, Powell addressed the graduating class and challenged them to progressively look back over their lives – years and even decades – and to re-examine their career status, aspirations and personal outlook at the various stages.

Then she offered the following conclusion, “Who we are and what we are about is a long-term project – a project that continues throughout our entire lives. Knowing that is tremendously exciting because it means we have so much more to discover and to offer.

Honorary doctorate recipient Sandra Powell.
“However, realizing that our lives are still unfolding is also daunting because we can see how much the future depends on the choices and our willingness to invest in ourselves and the world around us.”

Following Powell’s address, three Doctor of Philosophy in Education degrees were conferred. The degree is a joint program with the University of Rhode Island and is awarded at the institution where the candidate’s major adviser is on the faculty.

The recipients and their advisers are, respectively, Jill Proulx and Associate Professor of Educational Leadership Susan Gracia, Lesley A. Sevey and Professor of Elementary Education Patricia Cordeiro, and Yaocihuatzin and Professor of Anthropology Carolyn Fluehr-Lobban.

In addition to the education doctorate, the following degrees were conferred: the Certificate of Advanced Graduate Study, Master of Social Work, Master of Arts, Master of Arts in Teaching, Master of Education, Master of Science in Nursing, Master of Music Education and Master of Professional Accountancy.

"Stand up, get up, enjoy the world, change the world," Adrain urged the graduates.