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​​​From left, Roxxanne Newman and Audrianna Vito

Rhode Island College scholars Roxxanne Newman and Audrianna Vito are two of only five students from colleges and universities throughout New England to receive the 2018 highly competitive Honorary Undergraduate Scholar Award by the New England Psychological Association (NEPA). Their awards were presented at NEPA’s annual meeting on Nov. 9 and 10 at Worcester Polytechnic Institute.

Award winners are distinguished for meeting high standards in academic performance, research, service work on campus and in the community, and for their serious interest in the field of psychology.

Both a psychology and chemical dependency and addiction studies major, Newman has conducted research in the Infant and Child Lab of Professor of Psychology Beverly Goldfield; she is president of RICovery, a Rhode Island College student organization that provides peer-to-peer support around addiction; and she is a recovery coach for the Anchor Recovery Community Center in Pawtucket. 

Newman said her interest in work around psychology and addiction comes from her own personal struggles with substance use. “I took something that was meant to destroy me [addiction] and used it to provide hope and light for those who are still struggling in the dark. I believe it’s not the fall that defeats us but staying on the ground.”

“Roxxanne Newman’s on- and off-campus work around addiction has led her to seek benefit for others, and Rhode Island College has been enriched by it,” said Professor of Psychology David Sugarman. “Without question, I am proud of all that she has done.”

Newman’s fellow awardee, Vito, graduated from Rhode Island College in 2018 with a B.A. degree in psychology and is now a graduate student in the clinical mental health counseling program at Rhode Island College. She is driven by the desire to make mental health treatment more accessible and to remove the stigma around treatment. 

“My interest in mental health began from seeing my family struggle with mental health,” she said. “Talking about mental health as a society, as a community and from personal experience will help remove the stigma and people will be more likely to​ seek treatment.” 

Vito is a member of the National Society of Leadership and Success, a Rhode Island College student organization. She also serves as vice president of the Rhode Island College Psychological Society and the Psi Chi Chapter of the National Honor Society in Psychology. She has conducted extensive research in three labs at the college.

“Her drive to gain research experience is notable,” said Assistant Professor of Psychology Megan Sumeracki. “Her diligence and perseverance are also remarkable,” added Associate Professor of Psychology Jayson Spas. 

While Vito has just begun her three-year graduate program, Newman, a senior, will graduate in May 2019.