Ashley Fontana

Majors: Criminology & Criminal Justice and Psychology 

Hometown: Hauppauge, NY

What makes the College of Arts and Sciences at URI unique?

What I believe makes URI’s College of Arts and Sciences exceptionally special is the diverse variety of courses that you’re able to take. Although my area of study is in the social and behavioral sciences, I have also had the privilege of taking many courses from the humanities and the arts. I have learned to use a dark room to manually develop my photographs, I’ve performed in URI’s black box theatre, I’ve studied Victorian short stories, and I’ve analyzed numerous theories of crime and delinquency, and I’ve done it all in unique courses created by URI’s College of Arts and Sciences.

What accomplishments and/or activities are you most proud of while at URI?

Throughout my time at URI I’ve participated in a number of amazing activities and events. During my second year at URI, I had the privilege of being on the executive board of URI’s first ever dance marathon, RhodyThon. I was the Dancer Relations Coordinator, and I was in charge of facilitating communication between the participating dancers and the executive board, as well as organizing and running the event itself. It was an incredible experience that I will treasure for the rest of my life. RhodyThon broke the record for most money raised at a first-year dance marathon, raising over $150,000. I am beyond proud of the work our executive team did to make this event possible. 

This year, I was selected to be a URI 101 Mentor. It was an experience I will never forget. I got to mentor 20 first-year psychology majors through the trials and tribulations of beginning college life. I introduced them to a number of new study tactics, answered questions they had about campus life at URI, helped them with scheduling and enrollment, and offered advice whenever I could. This year I was also informed that I will be receiving the University Academic Excellence Award for the Criminology and Criminal Justice program. This is an honor that I am incredibly proud of. I look up to all of the incredible teachers that selected me to receive this award, and I could not be more thankful.

One final thing I am proud of is the fact that I will be graduating from URI with two degrees in three years. I know I will miss this incredible school next year, and my last few months here will be cherished whole-heartedly.

What, if any, research projects, internships, and/or study abroad programs did you participate in at URI?

I am currently working as a research assistant for two different PhD candidates in URI’s Psychology department. For Valerie Ryan, I am conducting literature searches, and participating in data collection and analysis. Valerie’s dissertation project focuses on the Ten Men Rhode Island program and how effective it is in changing social norms. For Rebecca Nelson’s dissertation project, which is aimed at examining the inclusion of cultural variables in forensic psychology literature, I have been coding numerous research articles to identify their inclusion, or exclusion, of cultural variables. Later this semester I will aid in data analysis. As a senior in the honors program, I have also begun conducting research of my own. This semester I am working on researching the prevalence of mental health stigma on college campuses, and it has led me to begin creating and outlining a new course for URI’s Psychology department that focuses on further informing students about mental health and mental health stigma. Finally, this semester, I am a teaching assistant for Dr. Megan Parry in the Criminology and Criminal Justice Department. I have researched studying, note-taking, and outlining tactics, and I have been using my findings to help the students I am a TA for. I have also been compiling research literature about mentoring. I hope to write a research paper about my experience as a TA next year. I hope to one day have a career centered around research, and the valuable research experience I am gathering now will, I’m sure, be exorbitantly useful later on. It is already enhancing my education substantially.