Valerie Damon-Leduc ’11

Commencement Speaker

If something really scares Valerie Damon-Leduc, she runs toward it. Take public speaking, for example. As a sophomore, she took a leadership class: “We went around the class and everyone had to introduce themselves and say something about their lives. I was so nervous, I thought about dropping the class. Instead, I took public speaking classes whenever I could and spoke to groups whenever I got the opportunity.”

Damon-Leduc displayed her speaking skills on Sunday, May 22 when, as student commencement speaker, she addressed an audience of nearly 15,000 during undergraduate commencement ceremonies.

URI, she says, was her last choice of colleges, but the honor student received an offer that couldn’t be refused—a full, four-year Centennial Scholarship. “I believe it was meant to be,” says the vivacious graduate who majored in English and minored in communication studies and leadership.

Damon-Leduc was this year’s winner of the A. Robert Rainville Student Employee Leadership award. Working as an event management consultant in the Student Programming Office for three semesters, she consulted for nearly 100 events. In May she helped fraternities and sororities execute more than 20 events during Greek Week.

“I learned to apply my training to practical situations and take the theories I learned about working with groups into the real world. I have had to speak publicly on various occasions and teach students tips to make their organizations better. As an advisor, I have had to learn to trust my instincts and to know that I can make good judgment calls, not only for myself, but others.

“I have also been transformed from a shy, slightly insecure individual to someone who can confidently call or approach the people I need to talk to, or stand my ground when necessary,” Damon-Leduc wrote in her application for the competitive Rainville award.

She enjoys event planning so much, she plans to explore job opportunities in that field. Her goal is to attend graduate school and go into human resources.

—Jan Wenzel ’87