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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 mentor prepares for the real world

KINGSTON, R.I. -- May 7, 2002 -- Like most new students, adjusting to life at the University of Rhode Island was not easy for Monica Tavares of Pawtucket. The URI senior, who is graduating May 19, learned from her experience and spent the last three years guiding and assisting others with their transition to their new atmosphere.

For three of her four years as a student at URI, Tavares was a resident assistant in Browning Hall, where she counseled and assisted students and enforced University policies. "I worked in a freshmen dorm and I’m a mentor for them because I’m an upperclassman. I gave them the support and encouragement they need to succeed through their college years," said Tavares.

While maintaining her grade point average, Tavares dedicated part of her time to performing community service. For instance, she volunteered at ‘In Harmony’ Therapeutic Riding, a privately owned farm in Hopkinton that provides horseback riding opportunities for disabled children.

Last summer, Tavares also devoted her time to counseling students at the Times Squared Academy, a small charter school in Providence that concentrates on English, math and science. She helped organize a program that made learning fun by requiring students to take two summer courses and rewarding them with field trips to the beach and amusement parks.
As part of a multiculturalism class, Tavares led diversity workshops, which involved teaching high school students about racism, gender bias, multiculturalism, and sexual orientation. The workshops were designed to help students realize that some of the language they use may be offensive to other people.

In the summer of 2000, instead of relaxing after a semester of hard work, she took advantage of the URI study abroad program. A native of the Cape Verde Islands, Tavares went back to her home country, to study the effects of television on their society. Her family moved to the United States when she was 10 years old.

"It was amazing to see how the country has changed drastically since I left. When I lived there, they didn’t have electricity in the towns and now they do. It was a great experience for me personally and academically because I got to know the country all over again," she said.

Her positive influence on other students throughout the University has certainly paid off. Just a month before she earned her bachelor’s degree in communications studies, Tavares was awarded the William Gould Award for All-Around Outstanding Achievement at the Fifth Annual Black Scholars Awards. The Gould Award is presented to a senior in recognition of achievement in the areas of organizational leadership, peer relationships, faculty-student relationships, general service, and academic performance.

"I was surprised when I won the award. It’s good to know there was somebody out there thinking of me and about everything I have done. It’s nice to be recognized," said Tavares.
Following graduation, the 22-year-old hopes to go back and work with the students at Times Squared Academy. She would eventually like to work with other universities to recruit students from other countries.

Tavares would be the first to admit that her success at URI wasn’t achieved alone, however. She said she’s grateful for the support of her father and stepmother, and notes that she’s "blessed to have my boyfriend to always remind me where I came from.

"I’m excited about leaving URI. I’m ready to get out in the real world and see what becomes of me. It’s a little scary at the same time," she said.

For Information: Todd McLeish, 874-2116, Stephanie Paquette, 874-2116

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