MEET OUR STUDENTS: Hillary Costa: Leader of RIC’s Student Body


Local politics was a frequent topic of discussion in Hillary Costa’s working-class home. “I felt drawn to these discussions even as a child,” she said. “I would sit at the table with the adults, pushing my frank and sometimes forceful opinions, and my parents would often have to tell me, ‘Children are to be seen and not heard.’”

Today the senior is president of RIC’s Student Community Government, Inc., double majoring in communication and political science. In only three years at the college, she has had her own political talk show on RIC’s WXIN radio station; she’s written for “The Anchor”; she’s interned at the State House and assisted in political campaigns. In January 2012 she traveled with RIC’s communication department to the New Hampshire Primaries as part of the NBC 10 Tweet Team. “There I was, only 19 years old, shaking hands and conversing with Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney,” she said. “I thought high school was the best it was going to get for me, but at RIC I’ve been able to succeed above and beyond the expectations I set for myself.”

She said her involvement in campus activities began in 2011, her sophomore year. That’s when she was invited by Dan Paquet, former news talk-show host for RIC’s WXIN radio, to go on air with him and give political commentary. By fall 2011 she had her own radio show called “Capitol Hill” and was writing for the campus newspaper. Soon members of student government were tapping her to run for office. In spring of 2012 she was elected Speaker of Parliament.

“Working for student government is when I saw the true power of students. I always tell people that student government is a microcosm of the real world.” Costa went on to win the vice presidency and then the presidency in 2013.

Yet a career in politics is not in her plans for the future. Rather she would like to meld her interests in communication with her passion for sports. This summer she worked as social media coordinator for the Newport Gulls, an amateur baseball team. Costa is an avid athlete herself. When asked if she would be satisfied with a career managing press boxes and interviewing ballplayers over legislating at the State House? Hillary said, yes . . . and no. “Yes, I love sports media, and, no, I could never completely leave politics. Once it’s in your blood, it stays there. But I’d never run for a big public office. I’d rather pursue a school committee position.”

Until then, Costa is focused on serving RIC’s constituency. She said she thrives on RIC’s close-knit community. “I love that I can walk down the Quad and people know each other. It's almost as if RIC has become my second hometown and the Quad is Main Street where I can walk and wave and talk to fellow students.” Spoken like a true politician, one might add.

For more on Costa, hear her commentary at First Year Convocation 2013 on RIC’s Video Gallery.