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Students return to campuses as CCRI
begins its 50th academic year
Sept. 5, 2014
Fresh off the Labor Day holiday weekend, students, faculty and staff flooded back to CCRI campuses this week for the opening week of the 2014-15 academic year. Approximately 17,500 students were registered for classes this semester to kick off the college's 50th anniversary year.
"May all who are with us this day catch something of the fire that lights our hearts as we begin," said President Ray Di Pasquale, quoting founding president William Flanagan's first convocation address when he opened the college in 1964, as he spoke to faculty, staff and invited students and guests at last week's convocation.
It was in that spirit that each campus came back to life this week, with students lined up in the bookstores and catching up with old friends – and making new ones – in the common spaces between classes. At the Liston Campus in Providence, two new acquaintances sat in the Atrium together after meeting in an oral communications course earlier that day.
"I'm looking forward to bringing my GPA up a little bit this year," said student Darlington Teameh of Providence, who has a 3.49 and is aiming for a 3.5 before he tries to transfer out to Bryant University, where he'd like to study accounting and finance. "I had the option to going straight to a four-year university, but I knew it would be cost-effective to get my general studies credits here at CCRI before that."
His friend at the table was Joshua Amado, from Taunton, Massachusetts, who recently transferred to CCRI and is gathering general business credits in the hopes of continuing on to Johnson and Wales University. "A lot of people will go to a four-year school right off the beginning and don't know what they're doing," he said. "You still get the social aspect at CCRI too, and the classes are small, so I feel like all of my teachers know me."
One of the staffers who makes sure to know everyone who passes through the doors is Liston Campus Director Walter Crocker, who welcomes students each year as they come in. "It's a very special time this first week of the new semester," he said. "I always look forward to beginning new friendships with new students and then watching them grow in leaps and bounds, as they find the drawstring to their dreams and pull it open."
Greeting students as they came into the Flanagan Campus in Lincoln were Student Government members Derick Smith of Woonsocket and Sam Wilson of Cumberland, who is director of student relations for the Flanagan Student Government. In their third and fourth year, respectively, they said they enjoyed their role in making sure new students had an orientation point when they started CCRI. A variety of maps, pamphlets, and information sign-up sheets were spread out in front of them.
While they both said they were looking forward to working on their academic goals this year, they saw their involvement in student government as an opportunity to connect with their fellow students and make a difference. "As soon as I graduated from high school, I looked back and saw there were a lot of things I wish I had done. So I thought in college, I might as well do something, and the [Student Government] would be the best opportunity to do that. I'm glad I did it. I made a lot of friends," said Smith.
Upstairs in the bookstore, temporary worker Barbara Quinn stood in front of a table fielding questions from students about returns and financial aid accounts, helping new students much as Smith and Wilson were downstairs. "I enjoy helping the students as best I can," she said, adding that she's been doing this job for eight years. "It's always good to help orient them and reassure them and answer their questions."
One of those students was David Flynn, a recent graduate of Central Falls High School who was in only his second day at the college. Quinn said he had come in yesterday with a question about financial aid and textbooks, and she was happy to help him find what he needed when he came back today. "It's been good," he said before getting on his way to purchase textbooks for mathematics, psychology, history and college writing.
On the first day of classes at the Knight Campus in Warwick, another first-time college student, Billy Pelletier of North Kingstown, sat at a table in the Great Hall after his first class, college English. He said despite the vastness of the building, he was able to find his way around, and that he was pleased that it was a more diverse environment than his high school.
"For now I'm not sure of what I want to study," he said. "I'm looking forward to getting my feet wet here, and saving money and getting a sense of direction for where I want to go next."
Nearby, Cindy Booker of Newport sat already immersed in homework for courses she is taking to complete a Medical Administrative Assistant/Secretary associate degree. The mother of four said that, despite working three jobs, she wanted to make time to return to school to further her education and get a better job. "I enjoy school. I'd missed it. I want to show my kids you're never too old to go back to school," she said.
While the students enjoyed getting back to the books, the staff members who had been on campus all summer enjoyed the new energy brought back to the building. "Seeing students speaking with faculty and staff in the hallways and in the Great Hall again really highlights for me how much of a nurturing community CCRI is and how we have all worked together over the last 50 years to help students refine their passion for learning," said Vice President for Academic Affairs Greg Lamontagne.
Capturing some of that energy was Erin Olson, manager of marketing and new media communications for the college. Olson and college photographer David Fischbach could be seen toting a white Instagram frame bearing the hashtag #CCRI50 and soliciting volunteers to step inside to help the college premiere its new Instagram account, @ccri1964.
"Faculty, staff and students seem excited about the college joining Instagram. People are having fun with the frames, allowing us to take photos to use on CCRI social media platforms as well as having their friends take photos using their phones to share on their individual accounts," said Olson. "You will see members of the CCRI Marketing and Communications Department on campuses in the coming months with life-size Instagram frames. Have fun, take a photo in the frame and join the CCRI Instagram community."
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