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Department of Communications/
News Bureau
22 Davis Hall, 10 Lippitt Road, Kingston, RI 0288
Phone: 401-874-2116 Fax: 401-874-7872

URI honors student leaders
Annual Rainville Awards presented to 2 seniors
and women's rugby team

KINGSTON, R.I. -- April 18, 2000 -- A young man who espouses the philosophies of nonviolence, a future doctor who is a compassionate resident assistant, and the women's rugby team that began last semester in turmoil and ended in triumph have been named winners of the A. Robert Rainville Leadership Awards at URI.

The Rainville Awards are named in memory of A. Robert Rainville who was vice president for student affairs from 1980 to 1986. For the past 11 years, the Office of Student Involvement and Student Life at URI have honored students who are successful in various leadership roles while maintaining solid academic records. Individual winners received $200 and a plaque. Their names will also be engraved on a perpetual plaque located in URI's Memorial Union. This year's winners are:

The A. Robert Rainville Student Leadership Award: Jonathan Lewis of Lincoln, R.I. who will graduate next month. As a founding member of the Brothers United for Action and former president and current assistant treasurer of the Uhuru SaSa, Lewis worked to improve the quality of life on campus, especially for minority students. During a full-time internship last fall with Special Programs for Talent Development, Lewis created a Volunteer Leadership Group that focused on personal leadership and community service. The objective was to instill a belief in less confident students and wipe the phrase "I can't" from their dictionaries.

As a member of Brothers United for Action, Lewis helped negotiate, under the auspices of the U.S. Department of Justice Community Relations Service, a 12-point agreement with URI President Robert L. Carothers.

"I have found myself becoming a thoughtful, giving person. My thoughts have grown from being self-centered to community or world-centered," says the student leader of his URI experience. Lewis plans to accompany Dr. Bernard LaFayette, Distinguished Scholar-in-Residence at URI, to South Africa for International Training on Nonviolence this summer and help plan the first Rhode Island Inter-Collegiate Nonviolent Leadership Conference next fall.

"I will say he is a wonderful role model for everything we seek in a successful student at the University. He cares about people. But not only that, he cares about the University and the potential that it has in changing the state of the world and the condition of people's lives," says Vice President for Student Affairs John H. McCray.

The A. Robert Rainville Student Employee Award: Uzo Aneke of Brooklyn, New York who will graduate in May: "The work I have engaged in has been a collective effortI find it uncomfortable to toot my own horn because it is not mine alone to toot," commented the resident assistant for URI's Department of Housing and Residential Life Aneke who was guaranteed admission into New York University Medical School in her junior year says her work as a resident assistant has given her an opportunity and the ability to see a perspective from another's person's eyes. As an RA, she has had to negotiate roommate quarrels, counsel physical abuse victims, comfort a resident who learned there is death in the family, "I'm very passionate about my availability and accessibility to my residents. I am responsible for every resident who is self-conscious, anti-social, angry, frightened, popular, troubled, outgoing, loud, rebellious, studious, boy-crazy, girl-crazy, and shy because each one of them holds a trait that was or is part of me," says the leadership winner.

"Most of our 115 resident assistants feel that one year of this type of responsibility is sufficient exposure it is a rare individual who can stay in this position for a third year and maintain the high level of exposure to residents, respond to their demands and still have fun with them while building community and providing opportunities for them to grow," says Karen Sherman, assistant director of Housing and Residential Life. Aneke's supervisor Mary Lee Paola marvels at her ability to remain calm when volatile roommate problems arise. "She sees to it that personal insults do not enter the conversation and sticks to solving the problem at hand. And she is always there to follow throughlong after the initial conflict has ended."

The A. Robert Rainville Team Excellence Award: When the Women's Club Rugby Team returned to school this fall, it discovered that their coach had left for personal reasons. Giving up wasn't an option. Instead, through research and determination, team members found two new coaches: Cliff Roythorn, a retired professional rugby player from England and Carrie Lawlor, a graduate student who had played with the team for four years. The Rams enjoyed one of their best seasons ever (5-0-1) and advanced to the Division III England Championships where they were runner-ups. The team will be moved up to Division II for next fall.

In addition to winning in a sport that has been likened to a cross between American football and soccer, team members learned that to be a leader, they must also be followers. Most members are well rounded. Some are URI 101 mentors, resident assistants, and tour guides. Some are involved in organizations such as URI Recycles, Phi Eta Sigma, Golden Key National Society, Hillel, and InterVarsity. Some volunteer a few hours each week with the Rhode Island Reads program.

During the season, the team practices two hours a day, four days a week. Off-season, it practices twice a week. Group harmony is often created through such group fundraisers as car washes, pre-game pasta socials and potluck dinners.

Gabriel Valenzuela, coordinator of Club Sports at URI, wrote a letter in support of the team's nomination for the award. She praised the team, especially its student-president Cheryl Barendise. She noted that the team was the only club sport that attended every freshman orientation sponsored by the University and during the school year and noted that the team can usually be found in the Memorial Union trying to attract more players to experience the fun of their non-traditional sport.

Team members are Amy Alexander, Cheryl Barendse, Kate Banick, Audrey Cochard, Caitlin Curran, Jen Danilowicz, Katie Fellows, Susan Gravitch, Riki Greebaum, Carla Murano, Erica Parsons, Stephanie Read, Marinda Reynolds, Chandra Rogers, Dawn Shaw, Lael St. Pierre, Kathleen Thompson, and Suzanne Thorburn. The team won a team building workshop at URI's Alton Jones.

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For Information: Jan Sawyer, 874-2116



 

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