KINGSTON, R.I. – Nov. 1, 2021 – Ten University of Rhode Island students got firsthand experience this summer learning what it takes to pull together a full-fledged television production. The program, “The College Tour,” from Emmy-nominated producers Alex Boylan, Lisa Hennessy and Burton Roberts, gives prospective college students an opportunity to virtually “tour” select colleges and universities across the country to gain an insider’s perspective shared by their students, faculty and alumni. URI is one of nine schools to be featured in the series’ second season. The URI episode of “The College Tour” will premiere on IMDb TV, Amazon’s premier streaming platform, on Nov. 18. It is also available now on the URI website.
The show is the brainchild of host and executive producer Boylan who was inspired by his niece’s college search.
“College visits can cost upwards of $3,000 per school, which puts them out of reach for many students and families. We are leveling the playing field and providing a free, easy and fun way to tour some of the best schools across the country,” said Boylan. “The College Tour is the show you wished you had when applying for colleges in high school.”
That sentiment was echoed by Sarah O’Sullivan, a 2021 URI marine biology graduate from Hopatcong, N.J.,who thanks to the many experiences and opportunities presented to her throughout her undergraduate career has returned to pursue her master’s degree. O’Sullivan, who spent three years as a URI campus tour guide and was one of the students followed for the show, explained, “I think the show did a really good job of showing what you can’t show on a tour. For instance, you can’t take visitors out on a boat during a campus tour – and we did that in this show.”
She added, “There are so many resources and programs at URI that people may not know about or that you may not be able to show adequately on a tour, but we were able to show that as part of the program.”
“The College Tour” visits with 10 URI students from diverse backgrounds who share their experiences academically and socially. Students talk about professors and mentors who have made a difference; getting involved with student clubs, sports and organizations on campus; meeting new people and making new friends; and exploring all that Rhode Island has to offer. They share how the opportunities they have been presented with – to get involved in research, internships, volunteering and studying abroad – have inspired them and sparked new interests and new paths. Importantly, they talk about how they have been supported, found their people and made URI a home away from home.
Joel Roache, a senior mechanical engineering major from Warwick, was initially hesitant about attending URI because, as an in-state school, he was concerned he wouldn’t meet new people. He quickly realized that would not be the case.
“After the first semester, I realized that didn’t even matter,” said Roache. “It’s been great. I’ve met so many people – and not just in my major. There’s so much opportunity to get involved in sports and clubs and to meet new people. There are so many things to do and ways to challenge yourself and to learn new things. You will find your niche.”
Among those students featured in the University of Rhode Island episode of “The College Tour” are:
Sarah O’Sullivan (Hopatcong, New Jersey)
After graduating URI’s marine biology program in 2021, O’Sullivan returned to pursue a Master of Environmental Science and Management degree on an environmental communication track and hopes to one day be an environmental educator. She believes that education and public outreach are some of the most important things we can do to protect our oceans and give the public a greater understanding of marine life.
Joel Roache (Warwick, Rhode Island)
A senior mechanical engineering major, Roache moved to the United States from Jamaica when he was four. He is involved on campus as president of the National Society of Black Engineers, serving as a resident assistant, and also holds a management position as the family coordinator for the URI Orientation team. Roche, who has already secured a job after graduation, likes to stay active playing sports or hanging out with his friends. He is also a photography buff.
Kate Dubois (North Smithfield, Rhode Island)
Born in Seoul, South Korea and raised in Rhode Island, Dubois is a senior international diplomacy major and a student in the Chinese Flagship Program. As a Boren and Gilman Scholar, she is studying abroad for the year in Taipei, Taiwan. Dubois has served as the secretary and M.U.S.I.C. liaison for URI’s Asian Student’s Association, president of URI’s Chapter of Amnesty International, and Resident Academic Mentor (RAM) for the Chinese Flagship Program.
Brian Martin (Glocester, Rhode Island)
As a senior who is double-majoring in secondary education and history, Martin is passionate about education reform and believes in the importance of providing equal opportunity to all students. Born and raised in Rhode Island, Martin enjoys spending his free time exploring Providence and South County, as well as thrifting and listening to music.
Alana Parrott (Webster, Mass.)
Parrott is a theatre major who, during her senior year, is working on producing the A.R.E Archive (Access, Representation, and Exposure) to document black playwrights and keep her mission of making Black history, American history thanks to receiving a URI research grant. Last year, she starred as the lead in the spring 2021 URI production of Miss Nelson is Missing. She also writes poetry and loves the spoken word.
Adam Blakemore (North Smithfield, Rhode Island)
Blakemore comes from a long line of URI alumni but on arriving at URI, he found his own path through clubs and organizations including working as a URI tour guide and a URI orientation leader, and as a member of the Greek community. Blakemore is a senior majoring in supply chain management.
Emma Dallaire (Santa Clarita, California)
A California native, senior Dallaire is pursuing her education at the University of Rhode Island as a health studies major with the goal of becoming a physician assistant. In addition to being a member of the URI Ramettes dance team who has drummed up school spirit and support for URI’s sports teams for three years, she has also served as a URI orientation leader and traveled to Laredo, Texas during her sophomore year as part of an alternative spring break service trip.
Sonika Tahiliani (Dubai)
An international student from Dubai, United Arab Emirates, Tahiliani is pursuing her Doctor of Pharmacy degree as part of URI’s six-year program. Since arriving on the Kingston Campus she has strived to help and support first-year students as they transition from high school to college. She has served as Resident Academic Mentor for the Pharmacy Living Learning Community, as president of the Pharmacy Leadership Society, as a member of Lambda Kappa Sigma (pharmacy sorority), as a URI 101 mentor, and as a URI tour guide.
Peyton Thiel (Meriden, Connecticut)
Theil, a data science major, has been involved with URI’s Leadership Institute since before he arrived as a first-year student in 2019. The experience inspired him to give back both on campus and off. In addition to serving as URI orientation leader, Thiel joined URI Rotaract Club, a service organization, and also traveled to New Orleans as part of an alternative spring break service trip. Now a junior, Thiel has come full circle and is serving as a peer leader with the Leadership Institute, mentoring incoming students.
Jasmine Leal (Billerica, Massachusetts)
Leal is recent URI alum, graduating with a degree in chemical engineering in 2019. As a first-generation Latina college student, she initially faced some uncertainty navigating the transition to college. With the support and reassurance of professors, mentors, and the student community, Leal was able to combine her love of engineering with fashion and is now living out her dream working for a luxury fashion company.