The A. Robert Rainville Leadership Awards recognized three students and one student organization for their exemplary work as leaders while maintaining a good academic record this past Tuesday in the Memorial Union.

The categories for awards include student leadership, employee excellence, team excellence, and servant leadership. The 20 finalists for the four titles were chosen from almost 300 nominations, though several students were nominated for multiple awards.

The Student Leadership Award was given to Mariam Temitayo Odetunde, president of the Alima International Dance Association. Odetunde was chosen from a total of seven finalists in the category and has maintained a GPA of 3.8

The award in the category of servant leader went to Samuel Klemarczyk. Klemarczyk is a senior communications major with a minor in leadership studies. In addition to his work with the Center for Student Leadership, Klemarczyk also started the URI Rotaract Club, a social club committed to professional development, leadership cultivation, and community service activities.

This years recipient of the Team Excellence Award was the Multicultural Unity and Student Involvement Concil (M.U.S.I.C.).  The group holds an annual conference called DIVE RI, which seeks to educate college students about pertinent issues of racial and ethnic diversity in higher education.

The award for employee excellence was given to Shade Olowookere. A senior health studies major and business minor, Olowookere is a senior building manager for the Memorial Union, and is a member of several other groups on campus including M.U.S.I.C.

“It started off with just one category of leadership, and then over the years we’ve got so many great students we wanted to recognize them,” Maureen Mcdermott, the director of the Memorial Union and advisor to the Student Senate, said.

This year was the 29th Rainville Awards, hosted by the Office for Student Involvement, the Center for Student Leadership Development and the Dean of Students Office. The awards are divided into four categories, and this years finalists were nominated by fellow students, faculty and staff through an online form on the URI’s website.

The event cost approximately $7,000, Mcdermott said, and the majority of that cost went into the banquet. The menu consisted of grilled chicken with mango pineapple salsa served over basmati rice, or pumpkin ravioli as a vegetarian option, a garden salad and for dessert an individual chocolate mousse cake with raspberry couli.  

“It’s delicious,” Emily Hadfield, a global business management major, said about the food. “It’s an impressive display for URI.”

Guests were served dinner after a few opening words from Mcdermott and University President David Dooley.

“This is my eighth Rainville ceremony,” Dooley said. “Every year I leave this event feeling really bad about myself. I feel bad about what I was like as an undergraduate. As a science nerd I spent most of my free time in the laboratories, and I didn’t do many of the things that the students that we’re talking about have.”

Nominations for this year’s awards ended on Dec. 2, 2016, and from those nominees a total of 19 finalists were chosen.

Though the exact criteria for awards varied slightly, the individual awards were given to students who made significant and lasting contributions to their organizations while maintaining a steady GPA.

“It was really humbling honestly,” Elana Rivkin, a finalist for the Student Leadership Award, said. “Every single person that was nominated is incredibly inspiring, and everyone’s an incredible leader. So, I’m happy to just be among the crowd essentially.”

Those who were unable to attend the ceremony can find footage of the proceedings posted to the event archives on URI’s Rainville Awards webpage.