Commencement 2013: RIC Grads Encouraged to Live 'Diligent, Happy Lives'

Adam Maniff's hat says it all

Adam Maniff's hat says it all

As Koren Phillips of Warren waited for Rhode Island College's commencement ceremony to get underway last Saturday, she said she couldn't believe she was finally graduating.

She started at RIC 16 years ago, but after a year, decided to work instead. She resumed her classwork seven years ago, attending part-time and graduating summa cum laude with the class of 2013.

Phillips was among 1,400 RIC graduates who received their baccalaureate degree during RIC’s 159th commencement. Thousands of family members and friends packed the campus quad and listened to RIC President Nancy Carriuolo offer her congratulations to the class of 2013.

“I want you to know how proud I am of you,” Carriuolo said. “My advice is simple. Rhode Island College has prepared you very well. Now it’s up to you to use what you’ve learned here.”

Many state dignitaries attended the ceremony, including Gov. Lincoln D. Chafee, who told the graduating class “life is a lively experiment” that they should embrace. “Take a chance and go get ‘em,” Chafee said, congratulating them on their years of hard work to reach this day. 

During the ceremony, honorary degrees were bestowed upon Henry R. Lesieur, an international leader in gambling addictions research and treatment; Robert Horace Petrarca, longtime president of Bald Hill Realty, Bald Hill Dodge and Kia Inc.; and his wife, Marie Petrarca, an ardent supporter of Rhode Island College.

Marie Petrarca also was the commencement speaker. She spoke about life as a series of adventures, and she encouraged graduates to use the tools RIC has given them in whatever they choose to do in the future. “The choices you make are yours. The answers lie inside you,” Petrarca said. “Be diligent. Be happy.”

Lauren Lavallee, 22, of Cumberland, said her first order of post-college business will be a month-long break to travel through Europe with friends, which will be a celebratory adventure before settling into adult life.

She then plans to use her new degree in film studies to get an internship at a production studio where she can gain experience in editing.

Cynthia Daigneault, 46, of North Stonington, Conn., also had high praise for RIC. “My education here was outstanding," Daigneault said. "I liked that it’s a smaller school and you get more personal interaction [with professors]. You become like family.”

Daigneault came to RIC after years of professional experience. As an EMT and certified nursing assistant, Daigneault received her degree in social work, and plans to pursue a master's degree in social work. Her goal is to work with veterans battling substance abuse and mental health issues.

Ending today's ceremony was a flash mob that brought the graduates and their families to their feet to sing, "(I've had) The Time of My Life." Here's a link to the video: