Manuela Vadis, more commonly known as Manny, has delivered for the University of Rhode Island women’s track team on and off of the field thanks to her unrelenting drive for excellence, and her tireless work ethic.

Growing up, Vadis’s mother and sister were big influences in her life. Manuela’s mother, who is a social worker and active member of the community, served as both an inspiration and example.

“She’s everything to people and people talk so highly of her, and I embody that in the little things that I do,” Vadis said.

Following in her sister’s footsteps, Vadis joined Breakthrough Providence, a program that helps mentor youths at the Wheeler School, during the summer of 2006.

“I have an older sister who was involved in the Breakthrough Providence program and I’m a copy-cat and I like to follow in my sister’s footsteps,” Vadis said.

After graduating the Breakthrough program in 2008, Vadis returned and volunteered at the Wheeler school and received her first opportunity to teach during the summer of 2011.

She graduated the program in 2008, and still returns to volunteer and cherish her many memories as a young, ambitious student. After graduating from Classical High School in 2012, Vadis entered URI through the Talent Development program where she learned the importance of getting involved in extracurricular activities and programs. Vadis is a student-worker at the Multicultural Student Services Center, a URI STANDer, a member of the Big Brothers, Big Sisters of the Ocean State and an active member of her community.

She was awarded the 2016 MLK Peacemaker Award for her prominent role in Breakthrough Providence, at the Dr. Martin Luther King Unity Luncheon on Feb. 5.

“Winning the award was exciting, but I can’t help but to think it wouldn’t have been possible if it wasn’t for the students and if it wasn’t for the impact the program has had on me,” Vadis said. “Being in the presence of everyone in that room, and being able to individually stand out because of the program that helped ground me was a really great experience. Breakthrough has built me up, we won it together.”

During her junior year in 2014, Vadis finished in the top-10 in several indoor and outdoor competitions for the URI women’s track team, and earned a fifth place finish in the weight throw earlier in the season at the Sorlien Memorial Invitational. Her dedication has paid dividends in her sport, as she is one of the vocal leaders on the women’s track team. Vadis and her teammates help to bring each other up, and believe it is a powerful thing to work together toward a common goal.

“I’m obsessed with my team, and they’re such great young women and it’s literally like a family,” Vadis said. “Everyone is there for one another; it’s a great atmosphere to think I have 50 sisters, so that’s awesome.”

Vadis believes you give what you get and you have to work extremely hard for everyone on the team and continue to strive toward success.

“In terms of athleticism, these girls work so hard, so I work hard for them,” Vadis said. “If I’m not giving 100 percent, then I’m giving nothing.”