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Scenes from The University of Rhode Island

Commencement 2014: URI experience transforms uncertain freshman into student commencement speaker, Homecoming king, leader

Media Contact: Dave Lavallee, 401-874-5862

Saunderstown resident aims for career in higher education

KINGSTON, R.I. – April 30, 2014 – Paul Knott enrolled at the University of Rhode Island as a worried and confused freshman, uncertain that going to school so close to his Saunderstown home was the right choice. As he prepares to graduate on May 18, he thanks URI for transforming him into a confident, motivated, and involved senior who has found a home on the Kingston campus.

“I chose URI because of the sense of community that it represents. URI students are constantly helping each other achieve success,” said Knott. “Today, I am more than happy with my decision. I didn’t really know if this was the place for me, but over the past four years I have been able to find my niche and have gained more from URI than I could have ever imagined.”

Knott said he owes much of his success to the University. “URI really taught me who I am and how to be the best version of myself that I can be,” he said. “Most importantly, it taught me to not be afraid of what I am capable of.”

He cites being named Homecoming king as one of his greatest accomplishments. “It’s something that shows that even though I did have a lot of academic and extracurricular related accomplishments here, I was also able to form phenomenal friendships and gain the support of my peers to create a college journey that is surely unforgettable.”

Another proud moment was being selected this year’s student commencement speaker.

“I was the commencement speaker at my high school graduation, so, for me, this represents somewhat of a full circle experience that really helps me gain closure with the end of my college journey,” said Knott. “Being the commencement speaker gives me the opportunity to represent the entire graduating class, and it’s a great honor.”

A marketing major, Knott is a member of the Business Student Advisory Council, which has allowed him to have an impact on his own academic experience and the experience of his peers. He is a member of several business honor societies, participated on the College of Business Relay for Life team, and has grown to be very passionate about spreading cancer awareness.

Knott is also a leadership minor and the recipient of the Davis & McKay Student Leadership Scholarship. Knott is also a leadership studies minor. Looking back, he believes it was what helped him gain perspective and passion for the things he does at URI. “It helped me realize the true benefits of being involved on campus and learning from my peers. It inspired me to become a part of the Student Entertainment Committee and the Student Senate.

“Being a part of SEC is like being a part of a family that constantly collaborates in reaching a common goal – providing entertainment to all of URI,” said Knott, who is also a Leadership Institute peer leader and member of the honors program.

He also served in leadership roles with the URI Tour Guide program and its freshman orientation program.

“This is my third year on the orientation staff and this year I have the privilege of having the most responsibility ever. I get to work with all different faculty, staff, and administrators of the URI community to ensure that new students and families receive a warm welcome to the University,” said Knott.

After graduation, he hopes to start his journey toward earning a graduate degree in higher education. Although he is saying goodbye to URI, Knott is very grateful for his experiences.

“URI has given me the confidence that I need to progress into the real world,” he said. “It’s shown me that I have the potential and has given me a great perspective on everything that I love about marketing, being a part of a community, and leadership. It also gave me passion -- to work with people, talk to people, and make connections. Most importantly, URI has taught me that you will learn a lot from faculty but you will learn even more than you could have ever imagined from your peers.”