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Scenes from The University of Rhode Island

URI announces 2005 student leadership awards

Media Contact: Jhodi Redlich, 401-874-4500

KINGSTON, R.I. -- April 22, 2005 -- Last week, the University of Rhode Island celebrated the achievements of several students who have taken on leadership roles in the community while also maintaining their solid academic records.

A leading student athlete, the head lifeguard at URI's Tootell Aquatic Center, and the College of Pharmacy Student Leadership Council have been named the University of Rhode Island's 2005 A. Robert Rainville Leadership Award recipients.

For the past 16 years, URI's Office of Student Involvement and Student Life has honored students for their efforts in the community. A competitive award, the Rainville award is named in memory of A. Robert Rainville who was vice president for student affairs from 1980 to 1986. Individual winners received $200, a plaque, and their names will be inscribed on a plaque located in URI’s Memorial Union.

This year, more than 75 students and 16 student groups were nominated for the three award categories: the leadership award; the student employee award; and the team excellence award. This year's winners are:

Student Leadership Award: By all accounts, Katie Stailing of West Bath, Me., clearly takes charge. She is a leader who is seen and heard on the basketball court, in the classroom, on the campus, and in the community. Captain of the Women's Basketball team and president of the URI Responsible Alcohol Management Choices group, the journalism major, history minor is known for her enthusiasm, self-reliance and focus. She is also recognized for her ability to inspire and motivate others as an active member of several student organizations.

Stailing has excelled in all of this and persevered during her four years at URI despite multiple injuries, six surgeries, and an enormous personal loss.

"Life isn't about just achieving a single dream or goal," Stailing said in her personal statement for the award. "It is about adapting to new and sometimes unpleasant situations and turning the most negative and desperate times into the most positive and rewarding times." She said this is the philosophy she embraced when her father died last December.

"My father meant everything to me, and he had shared my dream of playing collegiate basketball my entire life. Losing him is the single most difficult experience I have ever had to endure, but I continue to have faith that this is another lesson to be learned in the greater scheme of life," she wrote.

In supporting Stailing's nomination Barbara Luebke, professor of Journalism and Women's Studies, referred to her student's challenges and accomplishments: "Circumstances did not cause her to be a leader, nor did they stand in her way. Katie, by personality and upbringing, is one of those rare 'natural born' leaders."

After graduation next month, this young leader plans to attend graduate school and will pursue a career in advertising or marketing.

Student Employee Award: In approaching her work both as a student and an employee, Melissa Harrington of Saunderstown; didn’t just dip a toe into the water at the Tootell Aquatic Center, she jumped in with both feet starting in her freshman year. Now a graduating senior, the marketing, international business and French major's work has been recognized with a big splash by the students, staff, and others who nominated her for the Rainville award.

Having worked in positions ranging from lifeguard to instructor to birthday party facilitator and now as head guard, Harrington wrote in her Rainville student employee award application: "For me, it [Tootell] was a place where I could develop my leadership skills and help others to recognize their own leadership capabilities, exercise creativity through our marketing programs, create special projects…and work on them start to finish…

"My personal motivation comes from the desire to maintain integrity, credibility and respect for my actions," wrote the young leader. "I am also motivated by the accountability I feel to my team."

In addition to juggling three majors and her role as head lifeguard, Harrington also served for five semesters on the Student Senate, as a URI101 College of Business mentor, and on the homecoming committee. She also was part of the Rainville Award-winning Tootell Aquatic Center team last year.

After graduating next month, Harrington will plunge into her new career working full time at American Power Conversion, where she has been an intern since September. She will become part of the company's sales training team and continue work developing their electronic training materials.

While she likely won't have a whistle around her neck, Harrington says she plans to check in and keep in touch with the team at Tootell.

Team Excellence Award: Established in 2003, the College of Pharmacy Student Leadership Council has been actively involved in activities both within the college and the surrounding community. This leadership group has fostered a sense of community inside the college, worked to promote academic reform, and organized several disease prevention programs. The team has also become involved in the political process on issues related to the pharmaceutical field.

The team has planned and participated in numerous activities during the past year that have focused on health issues and related topics. These activities included the "Kick Butts Day" and "Poison Prevention" programs where pharmacy students went to schools to teach children about the dangers of smoking and poisons. The group also held a legislative day during which about 85 students met with legislators to discuss pharmaceutical and health care issues.

The student council members include: From Rhode Island: Alyssa Menissian and Rosana Mean of Cranston, Matt Mahr and Richard Wallace of Cumberland, Chloe Mako of Hope Valley, Tony DelSignore, Jen Newell, and Lisa Rodriguez of Lincoln, Michael Kostarides of Wakefield, Mariya Farooqi of West Warwick, and Stacy Gebler of Westerly. Out of state students include: Mike Paquette of Westfield, Jon Weiner of Burlington, Allison Borah of So. Hadley, Monica Coulombe of Somerset, Josh Gagne of No. Attleboro, Trisha Morin of Dracut, and Brian Couture of Chicopee, Mass. Renee St. Germain of New Market and Mat LaCroix of Concord, N.H.; Beth La Falce of Delmar, Amy Talati of Jackson, and Cyrus Agarabi of Mattituck, N.Y.; Jessica Landry of Lewiston and Bethany Rajotte of Falmouth, Me.; Kellye Loethen of Kansas City, Mo.

URI TEAM LEADERS: The College of Pharmacy Student Leadership Council Team members who attended the awards ceremony shown above are: In back row, Mike Paquette of Westfield, Mass.; Dan Lefkowitz of Warwick, R.I.; Trisha Morin; and Jessica Landry of Lewiston, Me. In front row, Josh Gagne of No. Attleboro, Mass.; Rosie Mean of Cranston, R.I.; Bethany Rajotte of Falmouth, Me.; Jennifer Newell of Lincoln, R.I.; Amy Talati of Jackson, N.Y.; and Jon Weiner of Burlington, Mass.