First Cohort from B.P.S. Program Reaches the Finish Line

B.P.S. Pinning Ceremony

Bachelor of Professional Studies Program lauds its inaugural class at pinning ceremony.

Surrounded by friends, loved ones and professors, 36 Bachelor of Professional Studies (B.P.S.) students gathered for a pinning ceremony on March 21 in RIC’s Student Union Ballroom. A pinning ceremony is a symbolic welcoming of soon-to-be graduates. A total of 50 B.P.S. students are expected to graduate in May.

As the college’s first fully online, adult degree completion program, the B.P.S. Program is designed for people who have earned some college credit but were unable to complete their degree. According to a 2022 U.S. Census Bureau American Community Survey, about 142,000 Rhode Islanders age 25 and older fall within this category.

RIC Vice Provost of Undergraduate Affairs Holly Shadoian calls the B.P.S. Program a big win for RIC and exactly what she envisioned when the program was established. It has grown from 13 students when it launched in Spring 2022 to 116 in Spring 2024.

“For most of these students, the B.P.S Program represents the only means for them to earn a bachelor’s degree for career advancement, to improve their lives, to set an example for their family or children,” says Shadoian, noting that she modeled the program after a similar one at the University of Louisville. “This tells me we did the right thing in creating this degree program.”

VP Holly Shadoian holds a bouquet of flowers
RIC Vice Provost of Undergraduate Affairs Holly Shadoian accepts flowers at the B.P.S. ceremony. 

The program offers two concentrations: social services and organizational leadership. 

Shadoian, who is set to retire after this semester, added that after 49 years at RIC, the B.P.S. Program is the project/accomplishment of which she is most proud.

“It’s great to see the genuine joy these students have here tonight, making it to the finish line,” she says.

Keishana Dawkins stands at podium and presents remarks at B.P.S. Pinning Ceremony
Kieshana Dawkins explains how the B.P.S. Program has impacted her life. 

As one of the 13 women representing the program’s first cohort, affectionately known as the “alpha cohort,” Kieshana Dawkins delivered uplifting remarks at the pinning ceremony.

“For the past two years, we’ve embarked on a journey filled with challenges, triumphs and personal growth,” she said. “Our presence here today is a testament to our resilience, determination and unwavering commitment to pursue our dreams.”

Now that she’s about to earn her degree, Dawkins has been promoted to a peer recovery specialist at the Providence Veterans Administration, where she previously worked for five years as a nursing assistant.

“Let us use our education,” she says, “not only to better ourselves but to uplift other people, to break down barriers and to create positive change in our communities. Through the B.P.S. Program, we have embraced innovation, change and the opportunity to pioneer a path that others will tread upon.”

For B.P.S. student Dean Faiola, who concentrated in organizational leadership, his degree status led to a promotion at RIC’s Donovan Dining Center. In July he will vacate his executive chef position to become assistant director of culinary and retail services at Donovan.

Dean Faiola B.P.S. Pinning Ceremony
Dean Faiola receives a B.P.S. pin from School of Business Dean Marianne Raimondo.

“Receiving this degree gives me a huge sense of accomplishment,” he says, as his wife and young daughter looked on proudly. “This pinning ceremony signals that my two years of work trying to earn this degree is real.”

Prior to entering the B.P.S. Program, Faiola had been trying to earn his bachelor’s degree for seven years.

“I was taking courses the traditional way, but due to the difficulty with timing, length and availability of courses, I was only able to take one course per semester since I was working and had family obligations,” he says.

One of the takeaways from the program for Faiola was learning to become a better workplace manager.

“I now have different ways to deal with personnel conflicts that may arise,” he says. “In class, we would do assignments in that regard that mimicked real-world experience. These are the kind of skills that will serve me well in the future. For anyone considering the B.P.S. Program, I'd advise them to go for it. You can't beat the scheduling and quick pace it provides.”

Shadoian agrees.

“Designing the B.P.S. Program as two seven-week sessions in a semester surprisingly allows working adults to attend full-time,” she says. “They take two courses in each session, and many students say they do that because it’s easier to keep two courses in their heads per session rather than managing four at once. I’m happy to say that the vast majority have been successful!”

Learn more about the B.P.S. Program.