University of Rhode Island senior Stephen D’Aloisio almost becomes breathless when talking about his time at the University.
As he describes each adventure, accomplishment and misstep, his gestures become more demonstrative, he smiles more broadly and laughs with gusto.
But when he addresses the University’s 133rd Commencement on May 19 as the student speaker, he will discuss what he believes will be a bright future for the Class of 2019 with just as much enthusiasm. The Student Senate chose D’Aloisio to address the crowd of 15,000 gathered that Sunday on the Quadrangle.
“The things I will miss most will be my friends and the college lifestyle,” said Lincoln resident D’Aloisio, who worked two summers as a first-year-student orientation leader.
“I met many of my good friends through orientation and my brief stints in Greek life,” he said.
But he calls his two years serving as the Rhody the Ram mascot one of his most enjoyable and defining experiences.
“I had a chance to go to the NCAA tournament in Pittsburgh with the men’s basketball team last year, and for two years, I was Rhody at the Atlantic 10 Conference Men’s Basketball Championship.”
This year at the A-10 tournament at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn was especially memorable, as Rhody and other team mascots were invited to participate in a shooting contest on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.
“I did great finishing second and making URI proud,” D’Aloisio said. “I had a chance talk with him, and he was very nice. Since he (Fallon) was in the movie ‘Fever Pitch,’ I asked him to sign a baseball I had brought to the segment. I told him it cost me $25, and after he signed it, he said, ‘Now you can sell it for 30.’”
D’Aloisio said among the lessons he learned at URI were “you have to show up and you have to take risks. URI is very welcoming, and if you take risks, URI will give you a shot. Normal is boring so get involved.”
He said being yourself is also important. “You get more respect that way, and it also makes it easier to make friends. I learned through my orientation experience that you can’t please everyone so you have to be authentic.”
The graduating senior said URI faculty members are very responsive, particularly in his major, communication studies, part of the Harrington School of Communication and Media.
“I always turned in papers before they were due, and they would send back edits and suggestions so I could improve. I loved my communications studies classes because there were always great discussions going on,” D’Aloisio said.
As commencement approaches, he is trying to get a job with NBC Universal as a production assistant with a nighttime talk show.
“Obviously, there is more money in front of the camera, but I need to learn the business. Seeing ‘The Tonight Show,’ I observed what was going on, and I had a chance to talk with the sketch writers and the director, and working as Rhody at the Ryan Center, I saw all of the different pieces that come together for an event.”
As he gets ready for his next steps, he takes issue with the notion that the college years are the best time in life.
“The goal while you are here is to sharpen your interests and skills on the professional level, so you are ready to take on life,” he said. “Like many of my classmates, I am more than ready and excited for the next chapter in my life.”