2021 Recipients


2021 Student Employee Award Recipient


James CoccozaJames Cocozza ‘22
Hometown: Cranston, RI
Major: Pharmaceutical Sciences and Pharmacy

James has been employed with Housing and Residential Life since 2016 and is finishing his (record) sixth year as a Resident Assistant. In this time, he has served as a Senior Resident Assistant and President of the Community Leadership Board, helping oversee training for over 180 staff members in HRL. Some of the hallmarks of James’ work has been his ability to go above and beyond what is expected of him and his ability to make others feel included. Whether he’s learning about how someone’s day went or spending time decorating residents’ doors for special occasions, James embodies the idea of doing whatever it takes to make someone’s experience better. In addition, James is a staunch advocate for his coworkers, acting as a primary liaison between professional staff members and student staff, ensuring effective and productive communication occurs whenever there are thoughts about changing policies or training practices. Ultimately, the most impressive part about James is he is making his impact with humility. He works without an ego and with only one true goal: How can I make the URI experience better for even one person?


2021 Robert L. Carothers Servant Leadership Award Recipient


Naomi PajarilloNaomi Pajarillo ‘21
Hometown: Pawtucket,  RI
Major: Cell and Molecular Biology

Naomi is a leader who radiates “service above self.” Naomi built upon her scientific knowledge and passion for equity in order to be on the front lines in serving communities most impacted by COVID to provide access to testing and increased participation in research initiatives. Driven by the question, “What if I could be the change?” Naomi maximized her communication skills, coupled with her ability to build trust and demonstrated cultural competence, to challenge existing systems of privilege and ultimately to empowering others while “breaking down stigmas, false information and expanding knowledge” as part of URI’s Mobile Health Unit. As a NIH-MARC-U scholar and President of CEL’s Seeds of Success Program, Naomi has aimed her servant leadership efforts to support and encourage the growth of others, especially BIPOC scholars, to lead in STEM and in the community.


2021 Student Leadership Award Recipient

Marland ChangMarland Chang ‘21
Hometown: Cranston, RI
Major: Communicative Disorders

Marland has been described as having “the qualities of an effective student leader: motivated, generous with his time and knowledge, hard-working, and goal-oriented.” As an adult student and veteran of Operation Enduring Freedom, Afghanistan, he has made it his goal “to show my fellow student veterans that they have the same opportunities as traditional students,” one being the president of the Student Veterans of America. Marland is an active member of the URI Chapter of the National Student Speech Language Hearing Association and serves as their RI Student State. When first starting in the role of president of the Student Veterans’ Organization (SVO), Marland built membership from one person in 2018 to over 50 student veterans and dependent contacts. He continues to show compassion to everyone around him with advice or a listening ear. Marland “acknowledged that a common mentality within the veteran community is ‘self-reliance’ and ‘not be vulnerable’ but shares in his own experiences, empathizing with his peers that it is okay to be vulnerable and ask for resources or support.” Marland has truly made an impact on the URI community being “a role model to a demographic of nontraditional students and Student Veterans that may have never envisioned that they could succeed in a university,” and “represents URI exceptionally well in his work both on and off campus.”


2021 Team Excellence Award Recipients

Diversity Dialogues

Diversity Dialogues
Diversity Dialogues has had a lasting impact on our URI community. Though they launched during the Fall of 2019, they have made significant accomplishments in spite of the turmoil of the pandemic that occurred soon after. During a time of great divide and racial tensions in our country, this great group of students took it upon themselves to facilitate workshops on diversity, equity and inclusion on campus. They took the initiative to teach other students and faculty about various social justice issues, such as microaggressions, to make our community a more inclusive space for all. This team managed to facilitate workshops for over 1,500 students across a multitude of different groups and organizations such as Greek Life, Resident Advisors, Jumpstart Program, FLOCK, Education majors, URI 101, CSV 302. These students went above and beyond to help others learn by discussing topics not frequently available in our curriculum.

Think Big We Do

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