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University College for Academic Success Scholars 2012

On Sunday October 14, 2012  University College for Academic Success recognized and honored the very best in our last year’s freshman class - those students who have excelled both in and out of the classroom while in their first year of college, surely one of the most challenging and changing times of their lives. Scholars are chosen by first being identified by their high academic achievement.  We invited the top students who have grades exceeding 3.94 to tell us about their involvement at the university, in their community, and in their disciplines. Based on these criteria, the top ten winners were selected.   Recipients receive a recognition certificate along with a gift of $500.00 from an anonymous donor.   


Nicole Adroved

is from Portsmouth RI, majoring in animal science and technology, with the hope of one day becoming a veterinarian. Nicole has been passionate about animals her whole life and works hard to share that passion with other students through her work with the animal and veterinary science club. She provides information sessions about how to best plan for going on to vet school, she helps to plan trips to farms and zoos, and she participates in competitions that include animal science quiz bowls and livestock judging. In addition, Nicole is a RAM, a resident academic mentor for first year students in the college of environment and life science's living learning community in Browning Hall. As a ram, she helps freshmen with their own transition to college, both in and out of the classroom, and does things such as providing newsletters and information sessions to the learning community, and also creating fun and academic programs for other CELS majors. Nicole is a Teaching Assistant for the animal vet science general education class, which includes helping to grade papers and run labs at the farm. Finally she has been a vet assistant since high school and a volunteer at the animal shelter − with no doubt Nicole will one day be a veterinarian, realizing her life goals.

Ashley Gemma

is from Lincoln RI and is a double major in political science and history. She is a member of several honor societies and is a dedicated volunteer and board member of the Gloria Gemma Breast Cancer Resource Foundation − an organization that helps to raise money and awareness of breast cancer in RI. She already has significant experience organizing huge groups of volunteers who participate in the many activities of this organization. In addition, Ashley is involved in the international community at URI, working as a peer ambassador at the rainbow diversity house to help international students connect with the broader URI community. Ashley's volunteerism is also expressed in her work to help raise money and food for local homeless shelters, for an orphanage in Tibet, for the native American association, and for the Japanese relieve programs after the Tsunami in 2011. A truly international effort at civic engagement that will complement her desire to have a minor in international relations leading one day to a PhD in international relations and foreign affairs. Her goal is to be a professor, teaching the subject areas with which she is quickly becoming more and more familiar - the world of politics and compassion. She has already served as a senate intern in the RI state house and hopes to one day become a state senator herself. She is a leader in every sense of the word.

Mary Grande

is from Johnston RI, majoring in wild life and conservation biology. She is very involved out of the classroom, in the Newman club − a catholic organization that does many volunteer activities, the RAM marching band, and she serves as a docent at the Roger Williams Park Zoo. Mary currently works in the spermatogenesis lab in the animal science department, working with molecular biologists to better understand bovine RNA. Her dream is to help protect and support our world's resources as a conservation biologist, and to one day earn a PhD so she can be professor and work with students like herself, who are committed to helping protect our world.

Meghan Kacmarcik

is from Ellington CT and is a major in nutrition and dietetics. She works hard to combine her activism through her academics and service activities. She is a member of the nutrition club where they work to promote healthy living options on campus through both food and activity, and work to address the issue of obesity in our society. She is also a member of the student action for sustainability organization, helping dorms to participate in recycling programs and participating in activities such as Narragansett bay beach clean ups. Meghan is also an admissions student representative tour guide, and she works on campus in the office of public programming and special events. This mentoring of new students continues in her work as a URI 101 mentor, which she hopes to extend even further next year as a resident assistant and ultimately as an orientation leader. Once she graduates she hopes to be a registered dietitian working in a community setting to help educate those in need around hunger issues.

Brianna Kimball

is a biological sciences major from North Attleboro MA. She is also on the cross country track and field team and was recognized as one of the top ten student athletes with the highest GPA for the 2011-2012 academic year. She currently works as a teaching assistant in biology labs and has already been offered a research position in medicinal plants for the pharmacy department. She works part time off campus as well. She has worked at the children's track clinic and has participated in many volunteer fundraisers, but hopes to continue to do more in this regard, as one of her goals is to be a role model for her peers in biology, and eventually to transfer into pharmacy. Her work as a research assistant is a great start toward that goal. Brianna is certainly a goal directed student who exemplifies academic and athletic excellence... something we all celebrate.

Elizabeth Kowalik

is from Brookline NH, majoring in pharmacy with a minor in biology. She is also a dancer, participating in the URI dance company, and hoping to one day become a ballet teacher. She is also a member of many organizations including college democrats, habitat for humanity, ASCP, and is a supplemental instructor for chemistry in the academic enhancement center, in addition to a very heavy course load... Elizabeth is also in the honors program participating in the current colloquium programs on health and economics, so in addition to graduating with a pharmD she will also graduate with honors. She is already working as a pharmacy technician and hopes to one day teach, do research and volunteer in the world of pharmacy somewhere around the globe.

William Law

is from Charlestown RI and has a double major in biology and Spanish − and is also studying Chinese. He too is very involved in volunteerism including being the vice president of the service organization URI SAVES − students actively volunteering and engaging in service - URI emergency medical services, and William works as a civic engagement leader helping new students to complete service through their URI 101 class. He has participated in our habitat for humanity alternative spring break program, and is a member of the honors program as well. His goal is to become a doctor to help people around the world. William is an eagle scout, a black belt in karate, and in high school was an all American in soccer, a tennis captain and is certified in terrorism awareness for emergency first responders.

Lauren L'Esperance

is a double major in environmental and natural resource economics, and marine affairs. She is from Woonsocket RI. Lauren started out at URI as a volunteer with our jumpstart program, an AmeriCorps program for early childhood literacy education, and like many others who commit to service early, Lauren has continued to serve, now as a civic engagement leader, helping other new freshmen to begin to give back to our community. In the academic arena, Lauren studies and works in the field of marine affairs, working at the graduate school of oceanography's office of marine programs, helping to promote communication amongst scientists and journalists through the Metcalf Institute and the Narragansett Bay classroom. Her goal is to do graduate study in environmental science and earn a law degree focused in environmental law, hoping to make an impact on policies regarding coastal development. Lauren is a hard working commuter student who despite many challenges in her life is taking full advantage of all URI has to offer.

Samantha Ortner

is from Brick New Jersey and is studying business at URI with a minor in digital forensics and Italian. She is a cheerleader, a teaching assistant in computer science, a URI 101 mentor, and works part time in our cafeteria, the Rams Den. Samantha hopes to be a forensic accountant, using the latest technology to solve important data questions.






Nicole Senior

is from Wakefield MA, majoring in communicative disorders with a minor in math. She has worked for volunteer projects such as relay for life, the Make it Bright project - a new student service organization that was begun through one of our grand challenge classes − this project raises money and collects clothes for an orphanage in Bogata Columbia that student then deliver there while doing a sort of service school break event... and Nicole has also worked to raise money for habitat for humanity. Nicole is a member of the student entertainment committee and the MOB, helping to cheer on various URI teams. She shows her school spirit and commitment to volunteerism in many more ways, while at the same time continuing to work while on school breaks as a personal care assistant for a young boy with autism. She also works as an accounting assistant, using her earnings to help pay for school, which she is funding on her own with the help of student loans.

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