URI communication studies student to speak at commencement
KINGSTON, R.I. -- May 9, 2006 -- Blair Valentine, who will graduate this month with a degree in communications studies, will be the University of Rhode Island’s student commencement speaker.
“A friend of mine dared me to submit a speech to the contest that the Student Senate holds to be the commencement speaker,” the Southington, Conn. resident said. “She told me I wouldn’t do it, so of course I set out to prove her wrong.”
Valentine said she wanted her speech to focus on topics to which her classmates could relate, touching upon rushing to finish a paper on time to shaking sand out of homework done at the beach.
“I have really become an adult these past four years,” she said of her own URI experience. “I couldn’t have done it without the support of my family.” Valentine is close to her parents, David and Alice, and her older brother, Anthony, 24, who she described as her best friend and protector.
The 21-year-old decided she wanted to attend URI after her first visit to Kingston. “After walking around the campus, a sense of home hit me and I knew I wanted to go to college here,” she said in her speech. “And that was before I even saw the beaches.”
When she did enroll, Valentine thought she would become an accountant, but after a few classes she switched majors and decided to study communications studies instead. She realized she was much better with people than numbers.
During her four years, Valentine has been a marketing intern at the Newport Yachting Center and a teacher’s assistant for a family communications course and the community service class required for all URI 101 mentors. Additionally, she has been the assistant coordinator of the URI 101 Mentor Program since her junior year.
While working for the program, Valentine helped recruit, hire, train and facilitate nearly 150 student mentors. “The program not only helps freshmen transition into college but it also changed my life,” she said. “I could see myself in the freshmen’s confusion. All of a sudden my mistakes could become their lessons.”
Valentine said leaving the mentor program will be one of the hardest things for her. “The friends I have made and the things I’ve learned there are irreplaceable.”
Following graduation, Valentine hopes to pursue a career in marketing, public relations or the non-profit field. “Just like with college, the possibilities out there are endless,” she said.
URI News Bureau photo by Michael Salerno Photography.