A Day for Pride and Joy: Rhode Island College 2013 Cap and Gown Convocation

Honors, awards and the ceremonial capping of the graduates were among the highlights of today’s Cap and Gown Convocation, a Rhode Island College tradition that marks the official start of the commencement season.

College President Nancy Carriuolo congratulated the graduates on their achievements and encouraged them to remember the many family members, friends, teachers, professors and advisors who inspired them along the way.

Gary Penfield, vice president for student affairs, noted that 31 RIC seniors have been inducted into the “2013 Who’s Who Among Students in American Universities and Colleges.”

Dozens more students were formally recognized with departmental awards announced by Ron Pitt, vice president for academic affairs, which were handed out by the chairs of the presenting departments.

Among the award recipients was Brittany Richer, who received triple honors: The Eleanor M. McMahon Award for overall scholastic achievement, the Bertha Christina Andrews Emin Outstanding Achievement Award for having the highest grade point average at the end of the seventh semester and the Mary Alice Grellner Educational Studies Senior Award for commitment to teaching.

Richer has worn many hats during her tenure at RIC, including serving as president of RIC’s English Educators’ Network; vice president of Kappa Delta Pi, an international honor society in education; ambassador of RIC’s Gold Key Society; tutor for the campus Writing Center; senior resident assistant for Browne Residence Hall; and co-teacher at Breakthrough Providence, a program that has helped more than 20,000 students prepare for college.

Another awardee was Tahrike Carter who has earned a degree in management and is a member of RIC’s basketball team. He received the John E. Hetherman Award in recognition of his scholastic success and his achievements as an athlete.

Tahrike is one of only four students in Rhode Island College men’s basketball history to earn Second-Team All-American. He was named First Team All-Northeast District by the NABC and First Team All-Northeast Region by D3Hoops.com. He also became the first player in league history at RIC to earn in the same season Player of the Year, Defensive Player of the Year and Tournament Most Outstanding Player.

Rachel Riendeau won the James Houston Award in Anthropology. Her honors thesis was titled “The Art of Waste Reduction.” She is vice president of the Anthropos student organization and has helped with various fundraising and community events. She also volunteers at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in Boston. She will study this summer in Peru with the Spanish and Medicine Program and in Guatemala with the field school of the National Association for the Practice of Anthropology. She will return as an ambassador for the Shinn Fund and plans to gain experience in a museum or nonprofit organization before attending graduate school.

Krystiana Medeiros may be among the youngest graduates in the class. When she walks across the stage at commencement, she will be 19 years old. She won the Communication Achievement Award in Speech, Language and Hearing Science for demonstrated achievement in scholarship and for significant contributions to the communication department.

Medeiros served as treasurer of the RIC Chapter of the National Student Speech Language Hearing Association and is a member of Lambda Pi ETA, the National Communication Association’s official honor society. She volunteers at the R.I. Shrine Center in Cranston and is a substitute assistant teacher at Meeting Street School in East Providence. She will be a speech language and pathology assistant in Massachusetts and hopes to eventually pursue her master’s degree.

Class speaker Kyla Pecchia, who is also class vice president, spoke of the importance of never giving up. She said, “When that final moment comes and your name is called and you walk across the stage to receive your degree, it will all have been worth it. We are the generation who will revive this state.”

In his convocation address, Mark Gunning, assistant professor of special education and member of Advocacy and Beyond, delivered his address in a wheelchair in honor of Access Challenge. This is an annual event on campus in which students, faculty and staff are invited to face the real challenges that students with disabilities face.

In his talk, he said the purpose of a college education is not to get “the” job but to elevate your thinking and to gain greater understanding. He said, “Equipped with a well-educated mind, you are prepared to decide what you really want to do and then to take the bull by the horns and do it.”

The class gift – a Wall of Honor – was presented by the class officers Travis Escober, president, Pecchia, the vice president, Amy Lynn Marshall, secretary, and Marcia Diaz, treasurer.

The Wall of Honor will list the names of RIC student organizations, honor societies and individual students who exemplify success.

The traditional singing of RIC’s “Alma Mater” song closed the event. It was written and composed over 90 years ago by Grace Electa Bird, a professor of educational psychology at the college from 1914 through 1942 and one of RIC’s 13 original professors.