URI honors student service with Rainville Awards

KINGSTON, R.I. — April 17, 2024 — The University of Rhode Island recently honored three undergraduate student leaders and one student organization as part of the University’s 36th annual A. Robert Rainville Student Leadership Awards ceremony. The award is named for A. Robert Rainville ‘64. He was the vice president of Student Affairs from 1980 to 1986. He was a friend and mentor to all students. 

This year’s recipients are: Sky Laurent-Kingsley of Richmond, Rhode Island, Employee Excellence Award; URI’s B.O.N.D student organization (Brothers On A New Direction) Team Excellence Award; Samantha Salerno of Bethpage, New York, Servant Leadership Award; and Jayda Ives-Williams of Providence, Rhode Island, Student Leadership Award. 

Sky Laurent-Kingsley, Student Employee Excellence Award 

From her first year on campus during the COVID-19 pandemic, Laurent-Kingsley, a communications and public relations major with a minor in general business, wanted to find a place on campus. She discovered URI’s New Student Transitions Team and quickly joined the organization. Since joining the transitions team, Laurent-Kingsley has given campus tours, worked at the Higgins Welcome Center and taken on many leadership roles. During her tenure, she has served on both the tour guide and orientation teams. She has served as coordinator for the tour guide team, guest services coordinator for the orientation team, and the program director on the Tour Guide Executive Board for this school year. Laurent-Kingsley created the development model “LIFT,” which stands for Leadership, Inclusion, Flexibility, and Team. She introduced the model into her work environment, as it helps her create activities that aim to understand team members’ strengths, the importance of inclusion, how to become flexible when challenges arise, and work as a team.

“She is a leader that is vocal when she advocates but silent during praise. She does the work and leads with enthusiasm because she knows it is what is best for the University. She is like a sponge, she takes everything in, absorbs it and then becomes better,” said one student in her nomination letter.

B.O.N.D Brotherhood, Team Excellence Award 

Members of B.O.N.D celebrate their Rainville Team Excellence Award. Members from left are Brotherhood Chair Cristian Varela ‘25; Vice President Carlos Estrada ‘25, Treasurer Jonah Depina ‘24, and Community Service Chair Christian Mestre ‘26. Jonah is 24′; Carlos is 25′; Cristian is 25′ Christian is 26′.

Brothers On a New Direction (B.O.N.D) takes pride in its founding values: Brotherhood, Leadership, Service, Responsibility, and Mentorship. B.O.N.D has a strong history of creating community among young men. B.O.N.D provides a platform for students from diverse backgrounds to create a strong campus community. The organization provides opportunities for students to participate in community service events on and off campus and work closely with the Multicultural Student Services Center to organize events for students that promote diversity, equity, and inclusion. The programs help people create connections and promote inclusivity so that participants have the opportunity to engage and thrive in any environment. The group has worked in several communities throughout the state, including Providence, Newport, and South Kingstown.

“B.O.N.D demonstrates what it means to be empowering student leaders on campus and in the community. The leadership team and members work tirelessly to ensure they create a community that uplifts and supports one another,” said a member of the student involvement staff.

Samantha Salerno, Robert L. Carothers Servant Leadership Award 

President Marc Parlange and Samantha Salerno ‘24, recipient of the Robert L. Carothers Servant Leadership Award.

A nursing major minoring in gender and women’s studies, Salerno dedicated her time at URI to becoming a leader, giving back to her community, and building lasting relationships. Salerno has been committed to all of her activities at URI. During her first year, she volunteered on an Alternative Spring Break trip throughout the Ocean State.

“I witnessed the pride Rhode Islanders have in their home state and the ways in which they aim to serve each other, which is something I have never really seen before.” Salerno said.

Next, she wanted to bring her leadership skills to URI’s Greek Life community and its fundraising efforts, becoming the Panhellenic Council’s philanthropy chair in May, 2021 and vice president of philanthropy and service the following year. Over four semesters, Salerno helped raise more than $600,000 for charities, such as childhood cancer research and local Rhode Island organizations such as: Toys for Tots, Veterans of Foreign Wars, South County Habitat for Humanity, Jonnycake Center for Hope, and more. Salerno also worked for the URI Office of Civic Engagement as an office assistant during her sophomore year. Her responsibilities included coordinating volunteer opportunities for student civic responsibility on and off campus, and she also planned service-learning events.

“When Sam walks into a room, you can immediately tell. She is a natural born leader. She is one of those people that constantly goes out of her way to make others feel included and as though they have a spot, specifically on a campus as big as URI,” said one student nominator. 

Jayda Ives-Williams, Student Leadership Award 

President Marc Parlange and Jayda Ives-Williams ‘25, recipient of the Rainville Student Leadership Award.

An Africana studies and English major with a minor in leadership studies, Jayda Ives-Williams has been a part of the Student Entertainment Committee since her first semester at URI. Ives-Williams started her journey with the organization as the VIP subcommittee vice president. Williams now serves as the VIP subcommittee president.

“My involvement in SEC, which marked my first time on a student organization executive board, granted me the opportunity to do many other firsts. As a member of the SEC executive board, I had to coordinate and collaborate with various stakeholders, such as my executive board peers, campus staff, and the student body,” Ives-Williams said. 

She is also part of the Africana Studies Student Advisory Council, The Diversity Dialogues and URI’s Service Corps where she started as an Alternative Spring Break participant on a trip to Washington D.C. She then became an Alternative Spring Break trip leader for the following school year. With this experience, Ives-Williams coordinated the Alternative Spring Break in 2024. Ives-Williams hopes to continue her leadership and inspire others during the rest of her time at URI.

Benjamin Smith, a senior sports media and public relations major at the University of Rhode Island and an intern in the Department of Communications and Marketing, wrote this press release.