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A first-generation college student, Vanessa Ruggieri, 20, completed a double major in marketing and management within only three years. Her ultimate goal is to become CEO of a  major advertising company. “By virtue of being a first-generation student, I’ve had to learn how to advocate for myself,’’ she said.

Under the guidance of RIC Associate Professor of Management Paul Jacques, Ruggieri completed an internship in 2017 as a data analyst at the Pawtucket branch of Tunstall Americas. She compiled and analyzed statistical data and subsequently designed, developed and maintained business solutions to create lean manufacturing.  “Toward the end of the internship, I had to make a presentation to administrative higher-ups at the company, which was a stressful but good experience,’’ she said.

Ruggieri has applied for fall acceptance in the University of Rhode Island’s MBA program, a traditionally two-year program that she hopes to complete within a year.

A West Warwick native, Ruggieri applied to 17 colleges after high school and wound up with scholarships from each one. She decided to attend Eastern Connecticut State University, but after a semester there she had a change of heart.

“I wanted to get out of the state and be independent,’’ she said. “However, after realizing how much debt I was amassing, I did some research and found that tuition and expenditures for one semester at Eastern Connecticut was commensurate to three years at RIC. I was home by Christmas.’’

As RIC’s 2017-2018 vice president of Student Community Government (SCG), Ruggieri organized and chaired the Public Relations and Elections Commission, recruited new members and maintained the organized social media presence. She also worked as a clerical supervisor in RIC’s Student Activities Office with responsibilities for hiring, training and scheduling student workers. 

“My mom jokes that she saw me more when I was a student in Connecticut than she did during my time at RIC because I basically lived on the fourth floor of the student union working in the office,’’ she said.

Ruggieri also holds down a supervisor-in-training position with CVS Pharmacy, handling customer relations issues, assigning tasks to store crew and overseeing cash functions. “Each semester, I’ve based research projects in my courses, such as Organizational Behavior, Advertising and Market Research on CVS. I’ve let them know that I’d love to work in their corporation division one day.’’

She credited RIC Associate Professor of Marketing Constance Milbourne with helping her devise a plan to graduate early. “She sat down with me for three hours to map out the plan,’’ she said. “I truly don’t regret coming to RIC and wish I could stay forever. Like [RIC] President Frank D. Sánchez says, ‘this college is a hidden gem.’’’

Ruggieri was honored with the Bertha Christina Andrews Emin Award for Outstanding Achievement (Scholastic Excellence) during this year’s Cap and Gown Convocation at RIC.