URI scholarship winner meets her benefactor

KINGSTON, R.I. — November 20, 2000 — When one Portuguese woman meets another, it’s a custom to present her with flowers. And that’s just what URI student Melissa Paiva did when she met Mary Braga this October at the College of Arts and Sciences donor/recipient luncheon held at URI President Robert L. Carother’s house.

Paiva is the first recipient of the Mary Braga Scholarship Endowment. A senior majoring in psychology, Paiva hopes to go on to earn a joint Ph.D. and law degree and become a forensic psychologist. There are many avenues for forensic psychologists to pursue including being an expert witness, ascertaining if someone is criminally insane, determining if someone is competent to stand trail, effecting policy and law, or pursuing research.

Paiva commutes to URI’s Kingston campus each day from Coventry. She also works at a group home for adults with mental disabilities. Yet the honor student still finds time to serve as a peer tutor.

“I think I got a winner,” says pleased Braga of Warwick. “She’s a lovely young lady.”

Braga established the scholarship for a female undergraduate of Portuguese descent who chose a major in the College of Arts and Sciences shortly after earning her Ph.D. in English literature from URI in 1995. She was 83 at the time, giving her the distinction of being the University’s oldest grad.

Braga began her undergraduate studies at age 69 after a career in the Rhode Island Department of Labor. Her studying isn’t done. This fall, Braga who is now 87, began earning credits toward an undergraduate degree in history at URI.

“She’s a very inspiring woman,” says Paiva of her benefactor. “She never gives up learning.”