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Scenes from The University of Rhode Island

Harrisville resident to graduate from URI as top psychology student

Media Contact: Todd McLeish, 401-874-7892

KINGSTON, R.I. – May 13, 2005 – She changed her major three times, but when Jennifer Vadeboncoeur finally decided to study psychology and history at the University of Rhode Island, it was soon obvious that she made the right decision. The Harrisville resident will graduate from URI on May 22 as the top psychology student in her class.

“I chose URI because of the variety of programming it offered,” she said. “I had so many interests and was unsure what major I wanted to pursue. But I took a psychology class during my senior year in high school and found it very interesting. Then, to better understand the contexts of psychology over the years, I added a history major in my junior year. The classes complement each other well.”

In addition to her studies, Vadeboncoeur volunteered for four years at the URI Women’s Center as a peer advocate in the Violence Against Women Prevention Program, which prompted her to earn an academic minor in Women’s Studies as well.

“I learned so much through this program about advocacy and counseling,” said Vadeboncoeur, who earned induction into five honor societies at URI. “It has really helped me to gain awareness of the problems of violence against women, and it inspired me to continue my volunteer work even after I graduate.”

It also motivated her to conduct her senior thesis research on the development and success of the domestic violence movement in the U.S., using Rhode Island as a case study.

“It was all original research, because no one had looked at this topic in the historical sense and put it together before,” Vadeboncoeur said. “The movement has made a lot of progress since it began as a grassroots movement in the 1970s. The Rhode Island movement has even been the model for other states in some ways -- our domestic violence court was one of the first in the nation, our police training programs were the first to co-train police officers and victim advocates, and the recent public awareness campaigns by the Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence were distributed around the nation. There is still a lot of work to do, but much progress has been made and Rhode Island has been more accepting of these changes than some other states.”

After graduating from URI later this month, Vadeboncoeur will continue her education at Rhode Island College where she will study secondary education with a concentration in history.

“Someday I plan to pursue my doctorate in history,” she added. “Eventually I hope to teach history at the college level, though I would also enjoy working at a museum or historical archives as well.”