There are many students at the University of Rhode Island who compete for academic excellence. However, few achieve a 4.0 GPA while balancing three jobs and 19 credits, the maximum allowed.

Even with the beginning of summer looming, Rachel-Lyn Longo, a junior double major in political science and psychology, holds herself to high standards. She is equally committed to both her many classes and jobs, on and off-campus.

Recently, Longo received the 2014 Harold Thewlis Award for Outstanding Achievement in American Government by the Political Science Department. This is a departmental American Government award, which is decided upon by the chair of the department and some of the professors.

“The thing about the social sciences is people are always saying about [what is] its application, and this is a government award,” said Longo. “I’m constantly in the court system and the award goes to the student that shows the most ability, [both] academically and experientially.”

Longo notes that it is vital to be confident and capable in this competitive world. She demonstrates these qualities in her own life through her work as a paralegal, her previous internship for the Chief Judge of the Rhode Island Family Court and her frequent presence in the courtrooms.

After being notified that she had received the prestigious award, Longo felt very much validated in her ongoing efforts.

“When I got the email, it’s so nerdy of me because it’s an academic award, but I was almost in tears,” said Longo. “Because you get to the point where you’ve [been] working so, so hard, and you get a piece of paper that says you are academically outstanding in what you do, and it is so meaningful.”

She was then asked if she would attend the legislation session of the House of Representatives at the State House by Representatives Kenneth A. Marshall and Antonio Giarrusso. Though very much camera shy, Longo agreed to be a guest on the house floor because of the positive impact it would have on the social science department.

“When the budget comes up and they are cutting funding, I want them to see a face,” said Longo. “These high achievements, it puts a face to our school…. It was important for me to make a face for political science.”

Longo transferred to URI from Suffolk University. She had been very ill with Lyme disease and was undiagnosed for six years. Even with her condition, she stayed committed to Suffolk, where she could have graduated a year early and attended law school sooner because of their fast-paced paralegal program. As her condition progressed, she decided to transfer to URI and declare a political science major.

“I made a promise to myself that I was going to work as hard as I could and as diligently as I could,” said Longo. “[For] every class I participated and I sat in the front row of every class, and I never missed a class.”

After graduating, most likely a semester early this December, she plans to help her father as a paralegal for his office before continuing on to law school. Her dream is to graduate as a professor of law through Yale’s Juris Doctor program.

“I love teaching,” explained Longo. “In my family, there are many elementary school teachers, but I love adults and adults [who are] continuing their education.”

Longo is very proud of her achievements and believes her level of excellence is attainable for others who have similar dedication.
“You have to make yourself a face in the room,” Longo said, as advice to other students. “We go to a big school and you have to make yourself a presence…You’re likely to end up in a lecture hall of 200 kids, but the professors still recognize the ones who care and you want to be one of those kids.”