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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 security officer honored for work on diversity issues

KINGSTON, R.I. -- June 22, 1999 -- As a child growing up, University of Rhode Island Public Properties Officer Linda Palazzo's mother always impressed upon her the idea of looking for the good in everyone. It is advice that has shaped her life as she has dedicated herself to helping others through her work on the URI campus and in the community.

Her service hasn't gone unrecognized. Palazzo, of Coventry, was recently selected as the recipient of the Outstanding Staff/Administrative Service to Student Organizations Award by the Multicultural Center staff at URI in recognition of her hard work and devotion. The award acknowledges and celebrates those who work with diverse and underrepresented populations in the interests of building a more diverse campus community. At the same time, Palazzo was also honored by the Rhode Island General Assembly for her commitment to community service.

Palazzo has worked in the traffic department in the URI Police Department for the past eleven years and is always trying to make students lives easier.

"In this type of work, I can be two people. I can enforce my job, but on the other side of the coin, I can also be helpful. I think on this job we have the chance to do a lot of community service, and to me, that is the best part," said Palazzo.

It is not unusual to see Palazzo preparing packets of information for international students to make their adjustment to the campus a little easier. She always carries bus and train schedules in her briefcase just in case someone needs one. Last year, she felt parking on the URI campus was difficult to understand so she created a color coded parking map which was distributed to students. Palazzo often works at late night student organization events. She does not simply provide security, but rolls up her sleeves and can be found setting up tables and chairs or helping with whatever else is needed.

"Officer Palazzo has always taken an extra step to be a partner in the community. Her attitude towards her work and service is the best I've seen in over 25 years of working in campus law enforcement. I would like to have five more officers just like her; that's how many it would take to replace her efforts," said Robert F. Drapeau, director of the University's Police and Security Department.

Palazzo has worked with diversity issues on campus and has served on the Diversity Task Force since its start in September of 1998. According to Palazzo, URI has definitely started to make progress.

"Struggling with accepting diversity is a nation-wide problem, but at least we have begun to take steps in the right direction. I have seen changes during my eleven years here. Openness and communication is much better and is constantly improving," she explained.

Palazzo dedicates a great deal of her time to the youth of Rhode Island. When she was twelve, she became a member of the International Organization of Rainbow Girls, a formal organization of girls who learn about community service, leadership, and respect for their country. Since then, she has remained dedicated to the group and is currently the Rhode Island Rainbow Girls' Senior Grand Deputy, chairwoman of the Grand Assembly, and chairwoman of the State Registration. In the past, she has been advisor of the organization's annual charity ball. She has served as House Mother, in which she has taken girls who have lost their mother under her wing, caring and befriending them. In 1985 she was awarded the Grand Cross of Color, which is the highest award the Rainbow Girls bestows.

"It is a lot of work and can be very tough, but above all, it is rewarding," said the 47-year-old mother of two and grandmother of 2.

In the past, Palazzo spent a great deal of time in local schools encouraging students to be drug free. She traveled to different high schools as part of the Youth to Youth program, and helped with fund-raising for the Coventry DARE program. For her work with youth, she received the "Hats Off" award from the International Order of Demolay Boys.

Palazzo just sees her work with others as part of her everyday job. She said she is always humbled by the recognition she receives.

"People always think I go above and beyond my job requirements. But, it's just me. I don't see it as anything extraordinary. It is just my way to help others," she explained.

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For More Information: Jan Sawyer, 401-874-2116
 

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