Class II: 2013 – 2014


Welcome to Project Thrive: Class II’s yearbook page! We enjoyed the second year of our mentoring program with our largest class ever! We invite you to learn more about the changes to this year and the magnificent people – both mentors and mentees – that made this year so special. Below you find excerpts from our annual report, a list of mentors served, past events and of course, our 2013-14 photo album. We had so many amazing students in the program this year who have already lined themselves in leadership positions across campus for next academic year. ISE is pleased at the preparation that Project Thrive has provided students so that they can be successful and get the most out of their time at RISD.

Annual Summary

The following outlines the implementation and assessment of the second year of the ISE Mentoring Program, officially named Project Thrive. The program sought to impact the academic transition and cultural success of first-year, underrepresented students at RISD. The program continues to experience rapid growth and overall outstanding success. Enrollment exceeded expectations beyond those that initially took into account an expected increase. The program ended up serving a total of 50 students, supported by 48 staff, faculty and alumni mentors from across the institution. The Office of Intercultural Student Engage is immensely grateful for the many colleagues that offered their time and expertise to serve as mentors to the program. This program would not be possible without them and much of the “magic” that transpires is a result of their commitment to the mentoring relationship.

We changed our programming structure significantly this year through collaboration with CSI’s first-year student programming series, RISD 360, along with the introduction of the “Best of Providence” series, which offered social, cultural and community building programs to both mentors and mentees. Student feedback consistently rates the quality of our programming high and asserts that the students value the offerings. Of our most popular programs this year included the Sunset Cruise on the Providence River and the “Beloved Community” gallery show in partnership with Expose, which featured mentee artwork on show. Even our Opening Reception and Dinner got an upgrade, having been hosted in the Grand Ballroom at the Biltmore Hotel.

Results from our final program evaluations by both mentors and mentees were positive and many expressed that Project Thrive was a transformative and rewarding experience for them. Some of the open-ended responses in regards to the mentoring relationships that were formed were truly heart-warming and speaks to the magic of the program. Our mentors are the heart and soul of Project Thrive and we have been blessed with so many willing, talented and amazing people to serve in this important capacity to mentor our students.

As the person who oversees this program, I envision next year’s program to be even stronger, with increased attendance to programming; a sense of ownership in the program by all students; a programming series that addresses the true challenges first-year students experience; and the fostering of a true “mentoring community” of students, faculty, staff and alumni that is not only a safe space, but a place that allows students to thrive. Our community has great potential and is composed of some of the most talented people of our time. Our vision of the program began and will always remain to leverage the strength of our great community in establishing meaning relationships between students, faculty, staff and alumni to support our students and inspire ourselves. I am consistently humbled by the energy and enthusiasm of our program staff, mentors, mentees, partners and collaborators.


Program Design

Overview and Outcomes

The Rhode Island School of Design’s mentoring program was designed and implemented by the Office of Intercultural Student Engagement (ISE). The program is designed to engage and connect incoming, first-year and underrepresented students to the RISD community, both academically and socially. While RISD remains the premier art and design school in the United States, ISE wishes to make sure that all students who are accepted and wish to learn here have a positive and impactful experience that facilitates a transformative education.

Having Project Thrive allows the institution to be pro-active in supporting the students that bring diversity to our campus – diversity that we strongly value. Rather than continually being reactive – sometimes when it may be too late – we are helping RISD to affirm its commitment to the inclusion and success of all students who choose to learn at this institution.

Organization '13-'14

Project Thrive had the following organization and mentoring staff to ensure its proper functioning, maintenance of records, and superb services:

Christopher R. Lauth, Assistant Director, Diversity Programs: This professional staff position within ISE, will serve as the point person for all inquiries regarding the mentoring program in general. This position also directly oversees Project Thrive. Any additional resources or other needs of support by the mentors may contact this person for assistance.

Nafis White, Sculpture ’15, Project Thrive Coordinator (ISE): The Project Thrive Coordinator in ISE will also serve as a point person for all inquiries regarding the ISE mentoring program, especially inquiries from students/ mentees.

Tony Johnson, Director of ISE: The Director of ISE also remains actively involved in the mentoring program and may also be contacted for additional support/ assistance.


The mentoring program for the 2013-2014 academic year will run from September-February, including the fall semester and wintersession.


Each student who participated in the mentoring program was paired with a mentor, which could have been a member of the RISD, faculty, staff or alumni. Mentors and mentees were appropriately matched by ISE using data from both the mentee registration form and the mentor application. ISE left the scheduling of mentoring meetings up to the mentor/mentee to find times and locations that was suitable for their needs. ISE strongly recommended that these meetings be arranged on a bi- weekly (every other week) basis. We felt that for the majority of students, this was the appropriate amount of contact. Perhaps meetings were more frequent in the beginning and then gradually become more infrequent. In addition and/or in place of traditional on-campus meetings, ISE offered unique opportunities for mentors and mentees to meet off campus over a specific activity through the Best of Providence Series. These activities included such things as sunset cruises, the Kronos Quartet, ice-skating, etc. Most of these opportunities had limited spaces for attendees and was offered on a first-come, first-serve basis, and or at the discretion of ISE mentoring staff to ensure equity in the offerings for all program participants.

Mentor/ Mentee Selection and Pairing Process

To enroll in the program, students had to fill out an online enrollment form that featured a series of questions that asked about their personality, work style, their feelings regarding starting college and some of their personal interests and hobbies. These questions aided us in pairing them with mentors who also had to fill out a similar questionnaire when they formally volunteered to serve as a mentor in the program. The Assistant Director and the Project Thrive Coordinator reviewed the forms and paired students based on their review and recommendations. Nearly 85% of participants in the program (mentors and mentees) reported that they were pleased with their pairing.

2013 – 14 Mentors (48 total)
  • Staff: 75% (includes curators and executive level staff)

  • Faculty: 21%

  • Alumni: 4% (note increase from previous year despite percentage)

Alison Sherman, Associate Registrar – Student Information Systems

Yuriko Saito**, Professor, History, Philosophy & and The Social Sciences

Kate Sacco, Associate Director, International Student Services

Dean Abanilla, Computer Laboratory Technician, Continuing Ed

Sydney Lake, Area Coordinator, 15 West

Jennifer Liese, Director, Writing Center

Anthony Johnson**, Director, ISE

Mara Hermano, Executive Director, Strategic Planning & Academic Initiatives

Greg Victory, Director, Career Center

Dan Murphy, Area Coordinator, Hill House & Apartments

Hansy Better, Associate Professor, Architecture

Chris Lauth**, Assistant Director, Diversity Programs

Karren Harris, Internship Coordinator, Career Center

Damion Vania, Counselor, SDCS

Don Morton, Director, CSI

Jan Howard, Curatorial Chair and Curator of Prints, Drawings, and Photographs

James Nelson*, Food Service Coordinator

Blair Schaeffer, Residence Director, ResLife

Rachel Mollicone, Operations Manager, CSI

McDonald Wright, Technical Assistant III

Leslie Grant, Alumna

Sue Rappaneau, Nurse, Health Services

Mark Pompelia, Visual Resources Librarian

Mark Guarraia, Alumni

Gwen Farrelly, Director, Global Partners & Programs

Lindsay French, Associate Professor, History, Philosophy & The Social Sciences

Bonnie MacInnes, Department Coordinator, CSI

Khipra Nichols, Associate Professor, Industrial Design

Max Kaplan, Administrative Coordinator, ISE

Wini Lambrecht, Senior Lecturer, History, Philosophy & The Social Sciences

Ingrid Neuman, Conservator, History of Art & Visual Culture

Jess Raffaele, Assistant Director for NSO & New Student Programs

Brian Janes, Director, ResLife

Jennifer Prewitt-Freilino, Associate Professor, History, Philosophy & The Social Sciences

Phil Oliveira, Assistant Director, ResLife

Joanne Stryker, Dean of Foundation Studies

Ginnie Dunleavy, Director, Dining & Retail

Annie Newman, Director, Campus Planning

Andy Jacques, Assistant Director for Leadership Programs

Bill Cline, Computer Technician, Foundation Studies

Peter Carney, ESL Writing Specialist, Writing Center

Denise Siomkin, Executive Assistant, Finance & Administration

Kelley Mills, Trustee Relations Secretary

Shauna Summers, Counselor, SDCS

Mika Kanazawa, International Advisor, OISS

Shannon Gallagher, Associate Director, Financial Aid

Gina Borromeo, Curator, Ancient Art

Kate Irvin, Curator, Costumes & Textiles

* Mentors who were placed on the alternate/reserve list either because mentee withdrew from program early on, or never attended from the start, or requested a new mentor assignment.

** Mentors who received two student assignments.


At the beginning of the year, ISE arranged a formal reception as the official start of the program where the new mentoring cohort could all come together and meet their mentor/mentee for the first time. Additionally, they learned more about the structure of the program and met the ISE mentoring program staff. Prior to this event, ISE also hosted a mentor orientation, which provided additional resources to mentors and answered any questions they might have had from the start. The previous year, we offered two mentor orientations to accommodate faculty and staff schedules: one, which was held in the evening and the other during the workday. In an effort to conserve budgetary resources and as a result of a small attendance to last year’s evening session, we scheduled only one mentor orientation during the workday this year. This proved to be successful with a higher attendance. We will only offer one session moving forward.

Throughout the program, ISE hosted a programming series that featured primarily social and cultural events that fostered community building. Additional programs were offered through collaboration with CSI’s RISD 360 events that featured tailored workshops to facilitate skill development of the new students as they transitioned to college. This provided students with fun, engaging and thoughtful events to attend that not only fostered skill development, but also allowed for students to meet new people, make meaningful connections with their peers and other on-campus personnel. It also allowed them an opportunity for a well-deserved break from the daily grind of rigorous academics. The areas of skill development and awareness that the programming series sought to address included, but were not limited to the following:

  • Budgeting/Financial Aid

  • Campus Resources/Navigating College

  • Wellness (Mental, Physical, Spiritual)

  • Cultural Success/Community

  • LGBTQ Awareness

  • Cultural/Identity Expression

  • Academic Success

  • Spiritual/Religious Awareness, Growth & Continuing Practice at College

  • Self-Advocacy

  • Time Management

  • Final Project Success

Attendance to the programs by the mentees was expected and optional for mentors, except those that were part of the Best of Providence Series. Programs there were part of the Best of Providence series featured largely cultural events occurred within the community. Mentees and mentors were encouraged to attend these offerings together.

2013-2014 Mentoring Program Series (Includes General & Best of Providence Series)


  • Meet N’ Greet with Jamie Washington– As a part of an incentive and special privilege for mentees, we tried to obtain the mentees exclusive access with popular speakers that visit campus from time to time. This event provided a “backstage pass” to Jamie Washington and also served as the mentee orientation.

  • RMCC Annual Block Party*- The annual gathering of the RISD Multicultural Community (RMCC) is held in September each year and this year the mentees in the program were invited to attend. RMCC is a group composed of RISD alumni of color. They were also dedicated to supporting current RISD students of color in their journey through RISD and beyond in the career world. They are currently working on their own mentoring program for current students

  • Opening Reception- This event served as the official start of the ISE Mentoring Program for the new cohort of students. This year we had over 100 students, faculty, staff, and RMCC alumni present to kick off the program. The evening featured a formal dinner and entertainment by the ROOTS Jazz Band and spoken word/poetry performance by RISD faculty and students. This program also included participants of the OISS Mentoring Program.

  • Fall Outing, Waterfire!– The Project Thrive Coordinator took mentees on a trip downtown to see a Providence tradition – a full lighting Waterfire. In addition, students got to enjoy some of their favorite street foods.

  • Mark Brennan Rosenberg – Openly gay comedian and author, Mark visited RISD to read excerpts from his book Blackouts & Breakdowns which featured hilarious tales from his college experiences. Meant to be humorous and engaging, there was to be an element of education in avoiding some of the common pitfalls of first-year student social life on campus and some of the temptations that come with it.

  • Sunset Cruises – Project Thrive offered 30 mentees and mentors to attend a sunset cruise and historical tour of providence conducted by the Providence Riverboat Company. The event was highly successful and enjoyed by both mentors and mentees alike.

  • Kronos Quartet – Mentors and mentees were invited to attend this cultural offering if they wished. The Kronos Quartet plays much popular music in the form of an orchestral concert.

  • RI Art Archive Symposium – The RI Art Archive Project is a group in RI that seeks to tell the stories of and celebrate the work of its local artists. The organization has completed one part of a film series that will highlight this work. Students were able to see the first part of the film and then were able to listen to a panel of the artists featured in the film. A meet and greet reception was held after for participants of Thrive and the visiting artists.

  • World AIDS Day – An event that focused on highlighting the work that is still left to be done on the global fight for HIV/AIDS and featured guest speaker, River Huston, along with a candlelight vigil. The event also featured a 5- panel National World AIDS Quilt display in the Fleet Library.

  • Finals Destination* – A weeklong wellness initiative, the program sought to provide students with stress-reducing activities during the busy week leading up to finals week. ISE was fortunate to collaborate with CSI and ResLife on this series and was able to offer it to the entire campus. The series included the following programs: Massage/Aromatherapy, Heavy Petting/Therapy Dogs & Cats, Stress Yell & Pizza, Snacks @ Carr Haus.


  • Ice Skating*- Mentees and mentors were invited for a night of ice skating and hot chocolate at the Bank of America rink downtown.

  • MLK Celebration Series 2013- Mentees were strongly encouraged to attend all of the festivities that were a part of the MLK Celebration Series; a large number of our mentees attended the opening reception which featured a community dinner and gospel performance.

  • “The Beloved Community” This program allowed for the display of mentee work that spoke to Dr. Martin Luther King’s vision on community. Their work was featured in an Expose Gallery Show along with other student work from many diverse communities. More importantly, this venue provided many first-year students with a space to show their work in a gallery for the first time.

  • Closing Celebration- This program marked the formal end to our program and a celebration of the mentees’ successful completion of their first year at RISD. All faculty staff, students and alumni, had a good time. The program featured a buffet-style dinner, guest speaker, Eric Telfort (RISD alumnus), and a special mentor/mentee quilt activity in which they expressed what the program meant to them or a special moment. Eric Telfort gave an amazing talk and highlighted some important things students should keep in mind as they progress through their time at RISD.

*Collaborated with other campus departments.

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