Nov. 26 URI Honors Colloquium to feature discussion on University’s Talent Development Program

KINGSTON, R.I. – November 19, 2013 – The University of Rhode Island Honors Colloquium will feature a panel discussion Tuesday, Nov. 26 at 7:30 p.m. on the University’s Talent Development Program, which helps Rhode Island high school graduates from disadvantaged backgrounds earn a URI degree.

As part of URI’s 51st annual lecture series, this year titled Great Public Schools, Everyone’s Right? Everyone’s responsibility?, a panel made up of Talent Development (TD) alumni will discuss The Pathways to Freedom, an in-depth discussion about the TD program.

Victor Capellan, deputy campaign manager for Providence Mayor Angel Taveras, will be among the five panelists.

The lecture will be held in Edwards Hall, 64 Upper College Road, Kingston.

Those unable to attend the lecture can watch it live online URI Live!

The panelists are:

• Dianna Ibarra-Sdoeung, who has worked in Providence public schools is a teacher at E-Cubed Academy.

• Victor Capellan, originally from the Dominican Republic, is deputy campaign manager for Providence Mayor Angel Taveras. He has served on numerous boards, is vice chair of the Rhode Island Kids Count board of directors, and has been heavily involved with Central Falls High School’s education reform efforts.

• Melissa Neal, who earned her doctorate at Syracuse University, is an instructional specialist for the District of Columbia Public Schools and an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Early Childhood Education at the University of Cincinnati.

• Keith A. Oliveria, a well-known education leader in Rhode Island, has been involved with the Providence School Board since 2011, serving as its president since 2012. He is also working with the Rhode Island Nurses Institute Middle College Charter School, which he helped fund.

• Antonio David, who has been an educator for 13 years, is an award-winning health and physical education teacher at the Robert L. Bailey IV Elementary School in Providence and is also working with URI as a cooperating teacher.

Edward Givens, assistant director of TD, and Earl N. Smith III, assistant dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, both URI graduates, and Michael Charles Obel-Omia, director of the Compass School in South Kingstown, will be the three moderators. Smith is also an adjunct professor of Africana Studies, and is now seeking his doctorate at Howard University. Obel-Omia earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Middlebury College and is an adjunct professor in URI’s School of Education.

The TD program, which started in 1968, consists of a Spring Preparatory Program and a Summer Program. Staff members also assist the students in the program throughout the academic year. The program recruits students with college potential, provides them with an assigned academic advisor, financial support and other assistance. About 1,600 participants from the University have graduated from the program since its inception.

The Honors Colloquium Coordinators are David Byrd, professor and director of URI’s School of Education and Diane Kern, associate professor, URI School of Education.

Major Sponsor: URI Honors Program

Sponsors: URI Office of the President; URI Office of the Provost; The Mark and Donna Ross Honors Colloquium Humanities Endowment; The Thomas Silvia and Shannon Chandley Honors Colloquium Endowment, as well as the following URI colleges, departments and offices, College of Human Sciences and Services, Talent Development, Multicultural Center, University College, WRIU’s The Beauty Salon, College of Arts and Sciences, The Harrington School of Communications and Media, John Hazen White, Sr. Center for Ethics and Public Service, Department of Gender and Women’s Studies, College of Pharmacy, College of Engineering, College of The Environment and Life Sciences, College of Business Administration, College of Nursing, Division of Student Affairs, Department of Marketing and Communications, Department of Publications and Creative Services, and Instructional Technology and Media Services. Rhode Island Public Radio is also a sponsor.

For more information on colloquium events contact Deborah Gardiner at 401-874-2381 or

For information about ways to support the Honors Colloquium, contact URI professor Lynne Derbyshire, Honors Program director, at 401-874-4732. If you have a disability and need an accommodation, please call 401-874-2303 at least three business days in advance. For TTY assistance, please call R.I. Relay Service at 800-745-5555.

Ashley Henry, a University of Rhode Island communication studies major, wrote this release.

Pictured above

Earl N. Smith III

Michael Charles Obel-Omia

URI Photos by Nora Lewis

Ed Givens

photo submitted