URI Kingston RI

Two Aquidneck Islander’s Win URI Academic Excellence Awards

Each year, the University of Rhode Island honors graduating seniors for their superior academic achievement. Their selection is based on grade point average, as well as other criteria determined by their individual academic departments. For example, criteria might include an honors project, a research presentation, or a student’s professional promise.

Each recipient of a University Academic Excellence Award receives a certificate of academic excellence suitable for framing and a URI lapel pin. Awards are usually conveyed in a special ceremony held in Edwards Hall.

“While we are unable to celebrate together in person this year, this should by no means compromise or undermine the extraordinary achievements of our honorees,” said URI Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs Donald H. DeHayes. “These graduates have set a high bar for themselves and are an inspiration to our faculty and staff as well as to our future students. It has been an honor to have them as part of our community.”

The two Academic Excellence Award Recipients from Aquidneck Island are:

Courtney Cunningham


A native of Newport, Rhode Island, Courtney is an Anthropology and Philosophy double major, with an interest in sociocultural and educational anthropology. Courtney is passionate about travel and has traveled independently to various countries, including Peru, The Philippines, and Cambodia. Her nontraditional college career has contributed to her interest in students’ academic and social development. She hopes to pursue a career in student affairs.

Nicholas Little

Medical Lab Sciences

Before attending URI, Nick spent four years in the US Navy, where he honed his natural leadership skills and found a love for travel. Nick is passionate about microbiology and plans on working in a clinical microbiology lab for a few years before entering graduate school. In his spare time, Nick enjoys his other passion – brewing his own beer.

The following students are the recipients of a 2020 University Academic Excellence Award:

College of Arts and Sciences

Africana Studies: Tim Berard of Hope Valley, R.I.

Anthropology: Courtney Cunningham of Newport, R.I.

Art: Nicole Faria of East Providence, R.I.

Chemistry: Sebastian Rueda of Central Falls, R.I.

Communication Studies: Christina Imbriglio of Westerly, R.I.

Computer Science: Mikel Gjergji of Cranston, R.I.

Criminology and Criminal Justice: Allegra Angell of North Kingstown, R.I.

Economics: Paige Carmichael of Warwick, R.I.

English: Brianna Perna of South Glastonbury, Conn.

Film/Media: Marion O’Sullivan of Oxford, Miss.

Gender and Women’s Studies: Alyjah Benton of Providence, R.I.

History: Sarah Truchon of North Kingstown, R.I.

Journalism: Ian Weiner of Severna Park, Md.

Landscape Architecture: Joseph Lefebvre of Chelmsford, Mass.


     Chinese: Zachary Smith of Coventry, R.I.

     French: Sandra Deeb of Wakefield, R.I.

     German: Maeve Story of Fairfield, Conn.

     Italian: David Guevara of Lincoln, R.I.

     Spanish: Kelly Domogala of Southbury, Conn.

Mathematics: Stefanie Hersey of Cranston, R.I.

Music: Remy Besson of Exeter, R.I.

Philosophy: Gianna Chaves of East Greenwich, R.I.

Physics: Ryan Vallee of Cumberland, R.I.

Political Science: Tim Berard of Hope Valley, R.I.

Public Relations: Emily Winslow of Etna, N.H.

Sociology: Emma Barber of Hope, R.I.

Theatre: Erik Schlicht of Cumberland, R.I.

Writing and Rhetoric: Arden Bastia of Warwick, R.I.

College of Business

Accounting: Matthew Taylor of Providence, R.I.

Entrepreneurial Management: Je Young Lee of South Korea and Narragansett, R.I.

Finance: Niklas Middrup of Germany and Narragansett, R.I.

General Business Administration: Shannon Costello of Scotch Plains, N.J.

Global Business: Sarah Chambers of Carlisle, Pa.

Marketing: Ellora Mohanty of North Kingstown, R.I.

Supply Chain Management: Simon Hoeps of Riverside, Conn.

Textiles, Fashion Merchandising and Design: Erica Thalmann of Wakefield, R.I.

Textile Marketing: Alexandra Turco of Massapequa, N.Y.

College of Engineering

Biomedical Engineering: Dylan Kennedy of North Kingstown, R.I.

Chemical Engineering: Mason Hyde of North Kingstown, R.I.

Civil Engineering: Bradley Bzdyra of East Greenwich, R.I.

Computer Engineering: Daniel Forman of East Greenwich, R.I.

Electrical Engineering: Elliott Koehn of North Kingstown, R.I.

Industrial and Systems Engineering: Kelly Domogala         of Southbury, Conn.

Mechanical Engineering: Mark Keenan of North Smithfield, R.I.

Ocean Engineering: Sandra Deeb of Wakefield, R.I.

College of the Environment and Life Sciences

Animal Science and Technology: Urszula Wisniewska of Annandale, N.J.

Aquaculture and Fishery Technology: Kyle Paparelli          of Warwick, R.I.

Biological Sciences: Joseph (Joey) Kuzmic of Westerly, R.I.

Biology: Caitlin Murray of North Smithfield, R.I.

Biotechnology Manufacturing: Ben Raiche of Coventry, R.I.

Cell and Molecular Biology: Kaileigh Cloutier-LeBlanc of Hudson, N.H.

Environmental and Natural Resource Economics: Mary Abigail Hasenfus of Barrington, R.I.

Environmental Science and Management: Hannah Chace of Franklin, Mass.

Geology and Geological Oceanography: Catherine Tiley of Cranston, R.I.

Marine Affairs: Declan O’Donnell of Southwick, Mass.

Marine Biology: Alyssa Lopez of North Smithfield, R.I.

Medical Laboratory Science: Nicholas Little of Portsmouth, R.I.

Plant Sciences: Jessica Hanley of Riverside, R.I.

Sustainable Agriculture & Food Systems: Brian Wells of Greenville, R.I.

Wildlife & Conservation Biology: Jessica Burr of Hebron, Conn.

College of Health Sciences

Communicative Disorders: Alexia Martins of Warwick, R.I.

Early Childhood Education: Keara Shores of Stoughton, Mass.

Health Studies: Cassidy Fries of North Wales, Pa.

Human Development & Family Studies: Kayla Wedell of Warwick, R.I.

Kinesiology: Michelle Lanctot          of Bristol, R.I.

Nutrition & Dietetics: Lauren Boisvert of Bristol, R.I.

Psychology: Emily Shepard of West Kingston, R.I.

College of Nursing

Nursing: Tyler Fritz of Putnam Valley, N.Y.

College of Pharmacy

Pharmaceutical Sciences: Qiwen Chen of Cranston, R.I.

Pharmacy: Justin Culshaw of Hillsdale, N.J.

Alan Shawn Feinstein College of Education and Professional Studies

Elementary Education: Caitlyn M. Powell of Portsmouth, R.I.

Interdisciplinary Studies: Benyamin Nikravan of Providence, R.I.

Secondary Education: Brianna Perna of South Glastonbury, Conn.

Finish What You Started

Finish What You Started: Maria Larson of Cumberland, R.I.