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. – 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.
BRISTOL, R.I. – Just a few yards upshore of Mount Hope Bay, tucked away under a canopy of maple trees on the Roger Williams University campus, sits an unassuming and weathered storage shed flanked by a port-a-john and an empty boat rack. For decades it has served as headquarters to some of college sailing’s emerging stars – including national champions and Olympians – a small, but proud, symbol of the Hawks’ outsized talent and tenacity despite lacking the kind of facilities that typically accompany a nationally ranked college sailing program.
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. – 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.”
BRISTOL, R.I. – For her advocacy work to free imprisoned scholars around the world, graduating senior Ashley Barton has been honored as a 2015 Newman Civic Fellow, a prestigious award recognizing a select group of student leaders who create lasting change in communities throughout the country and around the globe.
BRISTOL, R.I. -- When most folks think of a searchlight, those immense, unwieldy apparatus that project unmistakable beams of light, often dancing across the nighttime sky. Whether via a traditional carbon arc lamp or powerful Xenon bulbs, searchlights start with a high-intensity source of energy, collected in a parabola-shaped reflector and channeled into a common source -- that powerful beam of light. In many ways, our campus community is a reflective surface in its own right, collecting the energy and lumosity of students, alumni, faculty, staff and partners, returning it to a common source -- Roger Williams University -- and projecting a powerful beam of knowledge, expertise and talent beyond our campus, called upon to solve problems and to serve society.
BRISTOL, R.I. – When Ali Isham ’13, Perry Cyr ’13 and Katie Marino ’13 formed the a cappella group Hawkward in 2010, the singers never imagined the group would perform for a crowd of 3,000 at the Providence Performing Arts Center.
Yet this weekend -- on Saturday, March 21, at approximately 7:30 p.m. -- Hawkward, now 20 members strong, will perform front and center for some of Rhode Island’s biggest champions for the arts at PPAC’s Annual Gala fundraiser as the opening act for late-night television show host and stand-up comedian Jay Leno.
An avid fan of a cappella, Leno ultimately selected Hawkward as the “special guest” performers after conducting a search for a local group that began last fall. Five other collegiate, regional and semi-professional groups were considered for the opening role, but Hawkward emerged as the first choice early in the process.
Bristol, R.I. -- On Tuesday, The Providence Journal profiled faculty member Dale Leavitt of the University's Center for Economic and Environmental Development for his long-term success in teaching shellfish farmers how to create successful commercial operations growing oysters, quahogs, scallops and mussels via his Applied Shellfish Farming course held each spring on the RWU campus.
The front-page feature shares a brief history of Rhode Island’s oyster industry, summarizes Leavitt’s research contributions and paints a picture of his role as an educator. Students interviewed for the article describe him as a wealth of knowledge as well as a mentor and friend. Due in part to Leavitt's guidance, the commercial oyster farming industry in Rhode Island has grown from 10 farms in 1998 to 52 farms in 2013.