PROVIDENCE, R.I., -- On Wednesday, Rhode Island College’s Military Resource Center held its first Veteran’s day celebration on RIC’s campus.
The event was held outside and featured speeches honoring RIC alumni who had served in the military. Speakers included RIC President Frank Sanchez, Director of the RI Office of Veterans Affairs, Kasim Yarn, and Technical Sgt. Patrice Turnispeed in the RI National Guard, who also is a junior in the RIC School of Nursing.
The Veteran’s Day Celebration included special recognition of Professor Monica Darcy for her dedication to assisting veterans and their families at Rhode Island College. Darcy is a professor in the Counseling Educational Leadership and School of Psychology Department and teaches various courses in relation to counseling Military connected people.
RIC also honored Veterans via their social media and website, honoring three RIC students and alumni who are also Veterans.
RIC Alumni Joanne Barrett’13 serves as a captain in the Rhode Island Air National Guard (RIANG). Barrett is leading the fight to ensure that a COVID-19 vaccine will be distributed to RIANG’s 3,000 members and potentially 12,000 essential workers throughout the state.
Barrett leads a team dedicated to creating a system that will ensure the safety and efficiency of vaccine adminstration. "I'm responsible for making sure medics are trained to immunize and that vaccinations are up to date among RIANG personnel prior to being deployed. The administrative and computer work is a bit out of my realm but I'm excited. I'm more of a hands-on type who relates to people better than computers,” Barrett said of the new position she assumed in May.
“Veteran's Day is every day to me,” Barret stated. “I wouldn't want it any other way. When the observance of Veteran's Day rolls around in November, it's good to give honor to veterans still here and those who are gone. That makes me proud. I'm the type of person who gets goosebumps every time I see the (American) flag.”
Also honored on the RIC website and social media pages were Tracey Ginaitt’18 who graduated with an M.A. in nursing and John Marotte who is currently studying computer information systems and minoring in data mining at RIC.
Ginaitt served in both the Air Force and the RIANG and now works as a nurse at Rhode Island Hospital. “The military has given me four college degrees, a wealth of experience I wouldn't have otherwise and a civilian career,” Giniatt stated. “I embarked on this journey as a shot in the dark initially, but I'm fortunate to say military life worked out. However, I tell younger people who ask me about enlisting to do their research, use every opportunity afforded to them from education to volunteering, and to make sure it's right for them. This isn't a job you can just walk away from.”
Marotte served as a military police officer in the RIANG for eight years. In January 2018, the day after he began his journey at Rhode Island College, Marotte was diagnosed with thyroid cancer. He is now in remission and says his dream is to merge his love of law enforcement with his love of technology.
“I've wanted to be a police officer my whole life,” Marotte says. “But I dropped out of high school at the age of 15. I met my future wife when we were both 17. I'd been going down a bad path before I met her. My parents divorced when I was three and both struggled with addiction. It was a less than stellar childhood.”Marotte says he was inspired by his brother-in-law, who was a military police officer, to join the RIANG.
“I'm glad I chose Rhode Island College to complete my degree,” Marotte said. “The professors are unbelievable and the students are great. I thought it would be difficult being the old guy in class, but they accepted me right away and valued my advice. When they asked us to pair up for the semester, I thought no one would want to partner with the old guy. Then I turned around and five other students were following after me.”