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2009 Cap and Gown Convocation

Photo: Hayden James '12

Photo: Hayden James '12


Paul "Khalil" Saucier delivers main address.
Graduation regalia was on display – even though graduation day was over two weeks away – at the April 29 Cap and Gown Convocation ceremony in the Auditorium in Roberts Hall.

The event was much more than a dress rehearsal for commencement – it honored the academic achievements of the class of 2009.

Gary Penfield, vice president for student affairs, presided over the ceremony, which included an estimated 250 undergraduate degree candidates. He was filling in for RIC President Nancy Carriuolo, who was testifying before the state’s House Finance Committee on state funding for the college.

Paul Saucier ‘99, assistant professor of sociology, provided the main address. Saucier, known to students as Professor Khalil, exhorted the graduating seniors to take the path of the most – rather than least – resistance, urging them to fight racism, homophobia and poverty. “Tomorrow’s world is yours to build,” he said. Full text of speech.


Jessica Cyr
Jessica Cyr was selected by her peers to be class speaker. Cyr was the fourth sibling in her family to graduate from RIC, which is also the alma mater of her parents.

Forty-three seniors who merited inclusion in "Who’s Who Among Students in American Universities and Colleges" were recognized by Penfield. Who's Who list.

Ron Pitt, vice president for academic affairs introduced the winners of special departmental awards, which went to over 50 graduating seniors. Special Departmental Awards list.

Elizabeth Codd, a senior who began taking classes at RIC at the age of 11, is the second-youngest student in RIC’s 155-year history to earn a baccalaureate degree. The 18-year-old won the Christopher R. Mitchell Award given to an outstanding senior majoring in mathematics. Codd, who was a home-schooled student, will attend the Longy School of Music in Cambridge, Mass., to study violin.

Serena Kankash, of Millville, Mass., was a double award winner, taking the W. Christina Carlson Award for Excellence in Biology and the Eleanor M. McMahon Award. The latter award is presented to the senior in the College Honors Program for overall scholastic achievement and the quality of the senior honors project.


Serena Kankash receives award from Eric Hall.
The Mary Ann Hawkes Award in Justice Studies went to Matthew J. Cunningham, who began his undergraduate studies in the fall of 2001, but served two tours of duty in Iraq after enlisting in the Marine Corps in 2004. The 2009 grad plans to attain a law degree.

Class vice president Jennifer Almeida announced the class gift – a contribution to help complete the President’s Illuminated Walkway. The cross-campus route will extend from the residence halls on the west side of the campus to the School of Social Work on the east campus. “May it help light the way for future students,” said Almeida.

The Cap and Gown Convocation was described by Penfield as “rich in tradition and symbolism,” a ceremony in which graduating seniors are “formally invested in their robes.” To complete the investiture, the 2009 graduate candidates placed caps on each other’s heads.

The RIC Wind Ensemble performed Pomp and Circumstance as the seniors marched in to open the proceedings, and then played RIC’s "Alma Mater" song by Grace Electa Bird, a professor at the college from 1914 to 1942.


Gary Penfield


RIC Wind Ensemble


Ron Pitt