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Scenes from The University of Rhode Island

URI announces student Rainville leadership award winners

Media Contact: Dave Lavallee, 401-874-5862

Dave Lavallee 401-874-2116

Warwick residents dominate individual award categories

KINGSTON, R.I. -- May 4, 2004 -- Something must be going right in Warwick because three of the four individual winners of the premiere leadership awards at the University of Rhode Island are from that city.

The University announced the recipients of its A. Robert Rainville Student Leadership Awards for the 2003-2004 academic year during recent ceremonies on the Kingston Campus.

The awards, which have been given for 16 years to honor students who succeed in leadership roles while maintaining strong academic records, are named in memory of URI's vice president for Student Affairs from 1980 to 1986.

The individual leadership awards went to three seniors Robert Kubica, a business administration student from Warwick (pictured center above); Rachel Poirier, a political science major from Warwick (right); and Kirsten Olson, a business administration student from Gorham, Maine (left). Doug Reed, a Warwick resident, was selected for the Student Employee Award for his work at the Cancer Prevention Research Center.

Robert Kubica

Kubica, an international business major with a grade point average of 3.69, has been a member of the men's volleyball club throughout his URI career, serving as captain and treasurer as well. He is a member of the Business Student Advisory Council, the College of Business Advisory Council, as well as honor societies Beta Gamma Sigma, Zeta Beta Tau and Phi Eta Sigma. He has also served as a resident assistant, orientation student coordinator and a URI101 mentor. He was also named the President's Student Excellence Award winner in international business.

And that's only on campus. In his junior year, he studied in France at Marseille Superior de Commerce, where he helped lead the men's basketball team to the French college basketball championship.

"He not only excelled in the classroom, but also walked on to the college's basketball team and helped lead his team to the French championships," said Dean Libuti, director of New Student programs in University College. "There were times when he was not allowed to play, or was harassed because he was an American. Rob, however, stuck with it."

In the United States, Kubica has been a volunteer at St. Patrick's Soup Kitchen, the Rhode Island Children's Crusade, Jamestown Community Farm, and at a benefit concert for the Tomorrow Fund. He's also coached Little League baseball and youth basketball. Kubica has also been East Greenwich High School's junior varsity volleyball coach.

"If I had to pinpoint one major personal gain through my four years, it would be that I have learned so much about myself while learning from others," Kupica said in an essay submitted to the selection committee. "There have been unique lessons in both my personal successes and mistakes. I have grown both as a leader and a man, whether it was consoling my teammates on URI volleyball after we lost in the regional finals or raising the national championship trophy for French college basketball, each has helped me grow into the man I am today."


Rachel Poirier

Apathy is not part of Rachel Poirier's makeup. For five semesters, she has been a member of the URI chapter of Habitat for Humanity, having held the post of building chair/president. She is a founding member of the sorority Zeta Epilson Tau Alpha and the a capella group After Hours. The vice president of Speakeasy, the campus peer sex education program, Poirier has been a member for five semesters. She is a member of the honor society Phi Eta Sigma.

"Over the years, I have realized that an important quality to have as a leader and motivator is the ability to assess situations and learn how to let go when necessary," Poirier said in her essay. "Nothing teaches you better than experience."

Her off-campus involvement has included Mothers Against Drunk Driving as Team Spirit Staff member, philanthropy events through her sorority and benefit concert organizer for AIDS Project RI.

"College is a place where you can figure out your place in the world, so why not use URI as a springboard to the rest of the globe and really experience life," she said. "I have learned how to better lead myself through a Habitat trip to Guatemala and I am going to learn how to motivate and lead students when I travel to Zambia, Africa in July. I would tell incoming students that I have found nothing to be as rewarding as searching for my place in the world and being able to commit myself to service along the way."

A URI101 mentor, resident assistant and orientation leader, "Rachel is a wonderful asset to (URI's) University College," said Jessica Bouvier, coordinator of New Student programs. "Being involved with such a variety of organizations, Rachel has gained the skills and knowledge to become an excellent facilitator, processor, mentor, motivator and leader. She challenges herself to be in a constant state of self-discovery and growth, which only enhances her skills as a leader."

Deborah Bergner, hall director for Weldin and Barlow halls, said Poirier is "the best student I have worked with since I began at the University of Rhode Island seven years ago. "She is a natural leader who never seeks power, but rather she seeks to inspire those around her. She has a way of brining out the best in those around her through her positive energy and giving nature."


Kirsten J. Olson

Kirsten J. Olson is co-captain of the 2003-2004 URI varsity softball team, and after looking at her resume, it wouldn't be a stretch to name her unofficial captain of student involvement at URI.

A dean's list student who has been a standout outfielder for the softball team, she has been a member of RAM Choices since 2001, and served as president in spring 2003. RAM Choices is a peer alcohol and substance abuse program. She is a founding member of the URI Student Athletic Advisory Committee and is a member of the Student Athletic Advisory Committees for both the Atlantic 10 Conference and the NCAA. A founding member of her sorority, she has performed in and promoted the Vagina Monologues.

Off-campus, she has been involved in Habitat for Humanity, the Salvation Army After School Program, and Preble Street Resource Center and Food Pantry in Portland, Maine.

A URI101 mentor, Olson currently serves as a member of the NCAA re-certification steering committee and the search committee for a new director of athletics.

Bruce Hamilton, director of the Memorial Union/Student Involvement, said "Kirsten stands at the very top of the leaders that I have been able to work with over the last 23 years. I have watched her develop her skills, her knowledge and her focus over these last three and half years. A top-flight student-athlete, she never ceases to amaze me about her additional responsibilities and commitment to our University. When one looks to define one of the ideal kind of students that you would want as a part of your institution, Kirsten jumps out as that definition."

After four years at URI, Olson said that she has learned that "passion motivation, communication and optimism are four words to live by. Passion is a place in your heart where the match ignites the fire that fuels your emotions. Motivation is the will and desire that helps you persevere past the biggest hurdles. Communication brings everyone to the same level and allows them to work as one unit. Optimism means the glass is always half full and there is always a smile on your face."


Student Employee Award Doug Reed

Doug Reed, was selected for the Student Employee Award for his work at the Cancer Prevention Research Center. Reed has been a telephone interviewer since November 2001 in the survey center, where he was trained extensively to administer a variety of scientific behavioral health research questionnaires on topics ranging from smoking cessation to alcohol consumption.

"Mr. Reed's most salient trait is his tenacious professionalism," said Mary Riedford, a survey center research associate, in her nomination letter. "Telephone interviewing requires a person with a steady character and the ability to relate well to people. He has shown himself to be unflappable in the most arduous of interviews. Mr. Reed continues to be a tremendous asset to the CPRC as both an interviewer and as a representative of the University."

He has also assumed the role of coaching other student interviewers in the art of interviewing. "He has a natural flair for working with people and motivating others to reach beyond their own expectations," Riedford said.

The senior President's Student Excellence Award winner in philosophy, said jobs, especially those for students, should not just be about a paycheck.

"It may sound unbelievable, but I usually look forward to going to work," he said. "This is not to say that I do not take my job seriously, rather it is just that I feel really comfortable there. Sometimes I feel like I am going to work on a project with friends.

"I would have to say that work is the place where I have made the most long-term friends. The friendships that I have formed at CPRC, with co-workers and supervisors alike, are what will last long after I stop working on the URI campus."


Team Excellence Award Adams/Browning halls Resident Assistant Staff

The 20 students and hall director who make up the resident assistant staff in Adams and Browning resident halls were selected for the Rainville team award.

"This very inexperienced, young staff stepped right into newly renovated resident hall buildings, which predominantly house freshmen, and exceeded the expectations of most veteran hall staffs," said Joan Harrington, student conduct coordinator for Housing and Residential Life, in her nomination letter. "The staff of Browning and Adams is a very diverse group with different interests and backgrounds, but the common thread that binds this unique, dedicated unit together is their commitment to the community and residents." Team members are:

Jessica Padrnos of Yuma, AZ; Jeff Wieloch of Clinton, CT; Markus Rotenberg of Denville , NJ; Ian Thompson of Madison, NJ; Kelly Barist of Somerville, NJ; Emmy Borst of Ledgewood, NY; Joseph Ventrella of Oakland, NY; Kevin DoCouto of Bristol, RI; Casey Lachance of Coventry, RI; Carrie Chandonnait of Cumberland, RI; Linda Nico of Cumberland, RI; Anne Pedro of Cumberland, RI; Jennifer Bakshi of East Greenwich, RI; Megan Judge of Hope, RI; Stephanie Pichette of Pawtucket, RI; Princess Garrett of Providence, RI; Meghan Mollohan of Scituate, RI; Matt Harrington of Wakefield, RI; Julie Bixby of Warwick, RI; and Paul Schofield of Warwick, RI. The staff/faculty adviser is John Thomas Cunic, Adams/Browning hall director.