Community College of Rhode Island

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Student commencement speaker provides inspiration

A message from President Di Pasquale, May 18, 2010

CCRI is celebrating its 45th Commencement on Friday afternoon, CCRI student Leonardo Sime is the 2010 student Commencement speaker.and in anticipation of the event, I want to share with you the story of this year's student speaker, Leonardo Sime.

Leonardo, who is graduating as a member of Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society with a 3.7 GPA and a General Studies major, was raised in one of New York City’s worst neighborhoods. A U.S. Marine Corps veteran, he found escape in two things: education and service. He plans to combine these two virtues by becoming a teacher in hopes that his life experience will be useful to his students.

Growing up in New York’s lower East Side during the 1980s had its challenges for Leonardo. He witnessed gang violence and the city’s devastating crack epidemic in his neighborhood. For him, school was his sanctuary from the chaos and violence on the streets.

Leonardo enlisted in the Marines in 1990, serving in the Persian Gulf. He left the military, but reenlisted after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, learning to speak Arabic. After leaving the military once and for all in 2004, he moved to Providence to be closer to his family and enrolled at CCRI in 2007, juggling his academic responsibilities while raising his children. He also is a personal trainer, volunteers with his church and works with behaviorally troubled children in the Providence public school system.

Leonardo recently turned down admission to Columbia University, not wanting to return to New York, and is now considering finishing his bachelor’s degree at the University of Rhode Island to pursue his dream of one day teaching English.

Each year I have been at the college, we have selected a student speaker to share his or her experiences with their graduating classmates. Each student who applied for this honor has an inspiring story to tell and I will share some of these at this year’s ceremony.

I look forward to hearing Leonardo's remarks on Friday and celebrating the accomplishments of all of the members of the CCRI Class of 2010. On behalf of the college community, we are proud of each of our students and wish them a successful future.

Read more about Commencement.

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Last Updated: 9/11/14