If you searched for a recent graduate who could talk about the virtues of URI, your hunt would be over when you met Kelly Horrigan '00.
URI's Best Ambassador
By Jan Sawyer '87Photos By Nora Lewis
If you searched for a recent graduate who could talk about the virtues of URI, your hunt would be over when you met Kelly Horrigan. Friendly, bright, and enthusiastic, Kelly graduated in May with a double degree in psychology and anthropology.
"URI is a top research institution," she enthuses, "and it's becoming one of the best undergraduate research institutions in the country." Research is a passion for the 21-year-old, who just accepted a full scholarship from the University of Missouri-Kansas City to earn a Ph.D. in clinical health psychology. Her research will focus on cancer patients and advanced HIV patients.
When she decided to attend URI, Kelly, an All-American swimmer, turned down six other offers, including ones from Yale and Columbia. "It was actually my dad who knew URI was the place for me. I know he was hoping I'd go to his alma mater, Columbia, but when he saw URI's beautiful rural campus and saw that I'd receive more personal attention, he was convinced. One of the main reasons I wanted to investigate URI was its world-renowned psychology program. This is where James Prochaska, the Dr. Freud of today, makes his academic home."
Kelly's freshman year was a tough transition. She missed her home in Ashburn, Virginia, and her parents. Her grades dropped. Albert Silverstein, professor of experimental psychology, saw Kelly floundering and offered support. "My life turned around. He helped me recognize my abilities as a researcher and my intellectual capacities. He motivated me to be the student I am today. I don't regret having to work through the hard times; it's made me a better person." Hard times included a difficult decision in her junior year. Kelly loved swimming competitively and she loved research, but she felt she couldn't do both and dropped off the swim team.
Kelly's academic honors and awards fill a page, single-spaced. Most note-worthy, she was awarded the first URI Health Promotion Partnership Fellowship, a paid research fellowship in alcohol survey studies.
Her volunteer work ranged from helping out at URI's Women's Resource Center, to tutoring psychology students, to answering phones at Sympatico, a local suicide prevention hotline. She was president of the URI chapter of Psi Chi (the national honor society of psychology) for two years, a founder and president of the Psychology Club, the psychology representative for the Dean's Advisory Council in the College of Arts and Sciences for two years, and the recipient of a 1999 URI Foundation research grant and the Psychology Department's outstanding junior and senior awards.
In March, Kelly presented her research at the Eastern Psychological Association Convention in Baltimore and was awarded the assoc-iation's Psi Chi Regional Research Award for her poster and presentation. The College of Arts and Sciences' Hope and Heritage Fund, which is largely funded through alumni donors, made the trip possible. "I am proud to point out that URI has more undergraduate student projects presented than any other institution," Kelly says.
URI's reputation opened doors for graduate schools--seven programs accepted her. "URI is very well known and respected, especially in psychology. Interviewers would see URI on my resumé and tell me how fortunate I was to have such a great education," says one of URI's best ambassadors.