2010 advanced-degree commencement: new grads urged to “speak up”

Teresa Paiva Weed
“Speak up…even if your voice shakes.” That was the theme of M. Teresa Paiva Weed’s commencement address to the advanced-degree graduates, whose relatives and friends overflowed the bleachers and chairs in The Murray Center on May 20.

This year, RIC awarded 320 advanced-degree diplomas.
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Paiva Weed, president of the Rhode Island Senate, told the grads to make their voices heard. “The more you speak up, the stronger your voice becomes,” she said. “Don’t ever hold back your ideas for fear of inadequacy.”

Work together, Paiva Weed said. “We all must respect and consider the voices of others.”

She added that the recent difficulties faced by the country offer the new graduates a chance to create opportunities. “In good times, people accept the status quo. In bad times, they act,” she said. “More people are engaged than ever before in social consciousness.”

Paiva Weed asked all the members of the audience to stand in honor of their efforts to help the graduates obtain their education.

Nancy Carriuolo
Paiva Weed, the first woman to be elected as presiding officer of a Rhode Island General Assembly chamber, also received an Honorary Doctor of Laws degree.

RIC President Nancy Carriuolo told the graduates, “At this economic time in our world, we need wise and compassionate leaders. I hope that the joy and sense of accomplishment that we feel this evening remains as each of us works to help build a stronger and better Rhode Island and a stronger and better world.”

Carriuolo cited a “new milestone” for the college: the awarding of the first master of science in nursing degrees, which she said “demonstrates the strength of nursing education at Rhode Island College and its vital role in shaping the future of our beloved state.”

Carriuolo also touted a “renewal of the college’s commitment to graduate education,” with the reestablishment of a dean of graduate studies position, which has been held by Leslie Schuster in an interim position for the past year.

RIC's first Master of Science in Nursing graduates are about
to receive their degrees.
She said it was evident that Rhode Island economic vitality will depend on greater numbers of students attaining a post-baccalaureate education. “As the key public institution of higher education in metropolitan Providence, this is a role well suited for Rhode Island College and its exceptional faculty,” she said.

Representing the Board of Governors for Higher Education was vice chair Michael Ryan, a 1974 RIC grad who told the graduates that they had a special responsibility with their graduate degrees and they had “the knowledge, skill and power to make the lives of Rhode Islanders better.”

An Honorary Doctor of Music degree went to Frank L. Battisti, a conductor, composer and music educator who founded and conducted the New England Conservatory of Music Wind Ensemble for 30 years.

Frank Battisti
A Doctor of Philosophy degree was awarded posthumously to Lynn Benetti, who passed away in 2009. Her doctoral dissertation was titled “The Effect of a Culture of Encouraged Physical Activity on Student Academic Success.”

“Lynn was a much loved mother, sister, wife and an accomplished teacher, student and quilter," said Carriuolo, who noted that one of Benetti’s life’s goals was to earn a doctoral degree by age 50.

“On the eve of her 50th birthday, Ms. Benetti has indeed reached that goal,” said Carriuolo.

Benetti’s diploma was presented to her husband, Chris Benetti, and the doctoral hood to her sister, Amy Staples.

Other Doctor of Philosophy degrees – jointly conferred by the University of Rhode Island and RIC – were awarded to Giovanna M. Donoyan, Carolyn L. Fortuna and Nancy Noonan.

Students who completed requirements for a Certificate of Advanced Graduate Study, Master of Fine Arts in Theatre, Master of Social Work, Master of Science in Nursing, Master of Arts, Master of Arts in Teaching, Master of Education, Master of Music Education and Master of Professional Accountancy were also awarded diplomas.