Thank you, President Farish, distinguished trustees, faculty, students, parents, grandparents, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, and friends. What a pleasure and an honor it is to be here today. Here at the southern tip of the Mount Hope peninsula, we are at a place that I have always regarded as a kind of sacred wormhole into the past. So much has happened on this point of land and its surrounding waters—from the first interactions between native and European peoples to the first paroxysms of the American Revolution to the design and building of some of the most beautiful sailing vessels the world has ever known. And now all of you, the graduating class of Roger Williams University, are about to create your own kind of history.
BRISTOL, R.I. – On Saturday, May 16, the Roger Williams University Class of 2015 students completed the traditional crossing of the Commencement stage to receive their hard-earned degrees. Joining them was honorary degree recipient and keynote speaker, Nathaniel Philbrick, National Book Award winner and New York Times bestselling author on New England’s early history, from the Mayflower to the Battle of Bunker Hill. University Trustee and President of Samsung Electronics America Tim Baxter ’83 was also awarded an honorary degree.
A day earlier, the Honorable Roderick L. Ireland, the recently retired Massachusetts Supreme Court chief justice who was the first African-American appointed to the state’s centuries-old bench, addressed the RWU Law graduating class in a separate ceremony on the Bristol campus.
Please see the following stories, slideshows and other coverage related to this year’s exercises:
BRISTOL, R.I. -- Jeremy C. Wells, assistant professor of historic preservation in the School of Architecture, Art and Historic Preservation at Roger Williams University, has been awarded a research grant through the Fulbright U.S. Scholar Program to travel to the Federal University of Pernambuco in Brazil for the Fall 2015 semester.
In the city of Recife -- a major port on the Atlantic and one of Brazil's largest metropolitan areas -- Wells will focus primarily on research that aims to establish a new model in heritage conservation, in which community members work with historic preservation practitioners to jointly identify and preserve the heritage that is important to their community.
BRISTOL, R.I. – With an entrepreneurial drive backed by technical skills that saw him sell his first game at age 15 and launch his first company by the time he turned 20 years old, Willem Delventhal ’15 is sure to have a smooth transition from Roger Williams to Silicon Valley where he’ll continue his career soon after crossing the Commencement stage on May 16.
His résumé already impressive – he’s a business management major with minors in computer science and web development, and launched the new Tech-Es club on campus that has already sold its first app – Delventhal will work for San Francisco-based Lumosity, where he completed a mobile games internship last summer, while continuing to operate his own company on the side.
Presentation with Ambassador and Activist Andrew Young will highlight Inauguration Week 2011 events; reception with Ambassador Young to immediately follow.
About Ambassador and Activist Andrew Young
For a university that prides itself on creating a healthy exchange of ideas on the most pressing questions facing society and seeks to instill in its graduates a drive to serve the broader public interest, the chance to host Andrew Young as an honored guest and participant during Inauguration Week 2011 is opportune.
BRISTOL, R.I. – With his eyes on the prize of a Fulbright award at the culmination of his undergraduate career at Roger Williams University, Anthony Salazar ’15 learned just six days before Commencement that his hard work and dedication have in fact earned him the distinction of Fulbright Scholar.
An international relations and German major, Salazar was awarded a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant grant to teach English to primary or secondary schoolchildren in Rheinland-Pfalz, Germany, a mountainous region in the southwestern part of the country that borders France, Luxembourg and Belgium.
Salazar is the fourth Roger Williams student in the past decade to receive a Fulbright Scholarship. A highly competitive and prestigious honor, the Fulbright Program awarded only 20 percent of nearly 5,000 applicants an English Teaching Assistant grant this year.
“I’ve been working hard with a Fulbright Scholarship in mind for the past four years; it’s been a lot of motivation to perform exceptionally well academically,” says Salazar, who leaves in late August to spend a year in Germany.
BRISTOL, R.I. – Ryan Monahan ’15 is just days away from graduating, but has a lot more on his plate than final exams – and a lot more on his résumé than the average student’s work study job. An English major and educational studies minor, Monahan has already established a professional portfolio of research and literature even before receiving his bachelor’s degree. With his eye on improving the future of the American public school system, he’ll first detour to Japan where he will teach English to Japanese schoolchildren.
“In the education program we talk about how to teach students, as well as the idea that teachers are also learning from their students through their interactions,” says Monahan. “I believe that I’ll learn a lot by teaching in public schools and even more by teaching in a new country – being exposed to a totally new culture and completely new area of the world to me.”
BRISTOL, R.I. – The library, wet lab and “the dorm with the Dunkin Donuts” were among the most memorable parts of campus for 5th grade students Ainsley and Arielle, who toured RWU on Tuesday as part of 5th Grade Day. The annual event brings more than 300 fifth graders to campus from the Bristol/Warren School District and Our Lady of Mount Carmel School to show the students a day in the life of an RWU student.
Now in its eighth year, 5th Grade Day was created to provide elementary students with an opportunity to explore the possibility of future careers, set high academic goals, tour the campus and participate in team-building activities.
BRISTOL, R.I. – Recognized across campus for years as a welcoming mentor helping new students acclimate to campus, Yusuf Richie Afifi will now salute his fellow graduating seniors with a fond farewell as student speaker during Commencement exercises on May 16.
A biology and chemistry major from Yorktown Heights, N.Y., Afifi – who hopes to attend medical school after graduation – was selected as the student commencement speaker after several rounds of auditions. When he wasn’t elbows-deep in experiments in the chemistry lab, Afifi has worked behind the scenes to create many successful student events as member of the Inter-Class Council (where he worked his way up from class officer to executive council), helped hand-craft the University’s award-winning float for the Bristol Fourth of July Parade, and thrived on the rugby field among teammates he calls “a brotherhood like no other.”