The Alumni of Color Network provides professional and personal development, networking, advocacy, and community-building opportunities.”
Through their undergraduate internships in URI’s Alumni Relations Office, Marquis Jones and Cyntoya Simmons, both 2011 graduates, have helped build the University’s Alumni of Color Network into a campus asset for alumni, students, staff, and faculty of color. The network provides professional and personal development, networking, advocacy, and community-building opportunities.
ACN 2011 Spring Forum
ACN’s annual Spring Forum provides an opportunity for students to hear alumni panelists from a range of careers speak about their experiences and challenges as professionals of color. Held in March in the Galanti Lounge of the Carothers Library, the 2011 Spring Forum included, from top, panelists Barry O’Connor Jr. ’02, Alexandra Lovegrove ’10, Natalya Rocha ’09, Hariff Davies ’08, Moderator Tyrene Jones ’10, Maxford Foster ’01, and Margarida Da Graca ’09. Nearly 100 students attended the forum.”
The two worked closely with Michelle Fontes-Barros ’96, assistant director of Alumni Relations, to develop what is now a thriving organizational support system.
Founded in 2007, the ACN has been steadily building its membership. Several events the group held this year have had strong attendance, including a panel discussion in March that filled the Galanti Lounge of the Carothers Library.
“When the ACN started, the events would have a handful of people here and there, but a lot of the events we’ve had this year have been very successful,” Simmons said. “The support we are getting from current students and alumni keeps getting better.”
The experience has influenced both students. For Jones, who came to URI on a basketball scholarship, getting involved helped him grow away from the court: “This University has been a real life changer for me,” said Jones, an English major from South Plainfield, N.J. “The personal growth that I’ve experienced through networking with the Alumni of Color has been great.”
Jones plans to pursue a professional basketball career, most likely in Europe. He knows, though, that he has a degree to fall back on whenever he returns stateside: “I didn’t want to pick a major that was going to be easy so I could just skate by. I wanted to study something I enjoyed that would also challenge me. If you can read and write well, you can take that in a lot of different directions.”
For Simmons, an East Providence native and journalism major, URI has become a home she loves: “At first, I didn’t think URI was the right fit. Being from Rhode Island, I didn’t really want to stay in state. Before I came, my plan was to start here and transfer out. When I got here, I found it was the right place for me.”
Besides the ACN, Simmons was also involved with the all-female student group Powerful Independent Notoriously Knowledgeable (P.I.N.K.) Women. She served as the group’s president during the 2009-2010 academic year. “What college has taught me about myself is that writing is just one of the things that I like to do. For a career, I would rather go into student affairs, especially after working in the Alumni Center. With the ACN, seeing the faculty and student involvement gave me more insight into the URI campus.”
After working for a year, Simmons plans to attend graduate school for student affairs at either George Washington University or North Carolina State University. Both intend to stay involved with the ACN after they leave URI so they can help future students the way their own mentors have helped them.
By Shane Donaldson ’99