Celebrating the Wins: Across the University, Recognizing Students' Hard Work

Across RWU, virtual celebrations and graduations mark the end of a semester of unprecedented challenges, and salute students’ perseverance and achievements.

By Julia Rubin
Screenshot of Zoom chat with multiple faces.

Whether in academics, athletics, or leadership, this year RWU students have completed impactful projects, made strong friendships, had tremendous wins and impacted their communities. Though we cannot celebrate in person, departments across the University found creative ways to honor all their hard work. See how we've been celebrating students from afar with virtual toasts, awards ceremonies, Instagram posts and more. 

 A Virtual Toast to Computer Science Seniors

Screenshot of Big Blue Button meeting.

At the end of the Computer Science Senior Design Project presentations on Tuesday, May 5,  Professor Anthony Ruocco and Assistant Professor Sonya Cates put on their doctoral regalia and celebrated the class of 2020.

“I wanted to drink a toast to you all, to the Class of 2020, the Roger Williams Sharks," said Ruocco. "Good luck to you all as you head on out to do great things and have great successes. I want to thank you all for coming, I think you did a great job. I’m going to miss you when you graduate. It was a lot of fun having you all in class,” Ruocco said.

Outstanding Modern Language, Philosophy, and Classics Students Honored

The department delivered virtual awards to three students to recognize their achievements and hard work throughout the year. 

“For about 20 years we have been recognizing the Outstanding Student," said Modern Languages Program Chair Peter Thompson. "Given that our majors are fairly fluent, this winner is someone with near native fluency, superb work in all courses and exceptional intellectual curiosity.  For the same period, the Polyglot Award has gone to a student with unusual interest in languages, and superior achievement in more than one (foreign) language.”

A Virtual Reception for Engineering Seniors 

Senior Engineering majors gathered on Zoom on Wednesday, May 6, to hear remarks from Dean Robert A. Potter, receive awards for their many accomplishments and, break up into groups for a SECCM trivia game. 

Screenshot of Zoom meeting.

“This particular class is an exceptional group of young women and men and I want to commend you for the accomplishments you have had," said Potter.  "You have made us very proud. You have excelled in academics, in athletics, in your internships. You’re now going on to pursue graduate degrees, and pursue careers. We are going to dearly miss you and thank you very much for spending four years of your life with us.”

A Virtual Graduation in Graphic Design

Senior Graphic Design majors will be recognized in a virtual graduation ceremony on Saturday, May 16. RWU Director of Brand and Creative Services Blair Carroll '13, a Graphic Design alum, will speak to the class. 

“As I am thinking about their send-off, my glass-half-full observation is that this global crisis has simply forced them to push ahead and rely on all the skills they have learned along the way, albeit earlier than they anticipated," Carroll said. "Designers are resilient, creative problem-solvers with a message to share and some serious drive to persevere – which is exactly what we need in a time like this. This situation will make them better.”

University College Honors Graduates

University College recognized its graduating class with a celebratory graphic posted on its social media channels comprised of the names of its 120 graduates. 

"We want to celebrate our RWU | UC graduates, their hard work, and achievements," said Assistant Director of Retention and Student Services Pamela Pereira. "Although we can’t be together for Commencement, know that we wish the best to each of you. Please join us in honoring our UC graduates!"

UC graphic with names of graduates inside letters.

QTRAC's Instagram Shoutout for Lavender Graduation

Screenshot of Instagram post.

For two years, the Queer and Trans Resource Center has held a Lavender Graduation to honor queer and trans students for the work they have completed, the community they have fostered, and the barriers they have broken down to achieve their goals. On Wednesday, May 6, which would have been this year's ceremony, Assistant Director of Queer and Trans Student Initiatives Gabby Porcaro posted a video on the QTRAC Instagram account, @rwu_qtrac. The post began with dancing to Diana Ross' "I'm Coming Out," and ended with this message: 

"Please go find your favorite queer and trans seniors. Tell them how much you love them and tell them how proud of them you are, and have some fun today! I'm so proud of each and every one of you. I truly miss you all, more than I can say. Happy Lavender Graduation Day, ya'll!" 

Intercultural Center Has a Virtual Toast for Seniors 

On Thursday, May 15, Intercultural Center seniors and staff celebrated year of accomplishments with a virtual toast.

“It was truly an honor to have been in this community and feel at home here," said Director of Institutional Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Zoila Quezada. "You did it! Congratulations! There is so much more for you in life afterwards and we just hope that you continue to be involved with and connect with us.”

Screenshot of invitation with champagne glasses.

SJS Holds Virtual Graduation Recognition for Graduate Students

On Thursday, May 14, the School of Justice Studies honored their graduate students with a virtual ceremony.

“The diploma you receive is our belief in you to go and be what the world needs now," said University President Ioannis Miaoulis. "Go forth and do great things in the name of justice.”

Powerpoint slide honoring student.

SPLO Video Series Spotlights Senior Leaders 

Student, Programs, Leadership & Orientation recognized seniors who have made a large impact on the RWU community with a series of video messages on their Instagram account, @rwu_splo. Psychology major Max Goldberg, an orientation advisor, served on the executive board for WQRI, and was an active committee member for the Inter-Class Council (ICC) Class of 2020. 

Screenshot of Instagram video ft.  face with Hawks poster in background.

“My involvement for me over the past few years has meant that I have had the opportunity to engage in some really meaningful work, I’ve been able to make some of the strongest friendships I’ve ever had, and I’ve had an immense amount of school spirit," said Goldberg, a senior. "Here we go, Hawks!”

Athletics Reviews a Year of Challenges and Wins

Softball players in Hawks uniforms, cheering.

"College athletics is special. No one can understand the relationships that are formed, the commitment to something bigger than yourself, the challenges, the joys, and the feelings of winning and losing, except for a student athlete, said Athletic Director Kiki Jacobs said in an End of the Year Review video.  

"Right now, I ask you to think about your time in your career when things were not going well. You were striking out on the baseball or softball field, the balls were not going in the net, the pucks were not dropping, and your times were not getting any faster. You worked hard to overcome those hurdles. Just like Athletics, this crisis is testing us now. Now more than ever, we need you to be resilient and get past this challenge. I know we can bounce back, and we can be a strong Hawks family because of this. I look forward to the day when we have fans back in the stands and student athletes competing again. Please stay safe, and Go Hawks!"

Athletics lip dub video from last semester, one of the most viewed videos across all of the University's digital channels.