SMITHFIELD, RI – On Wednesday, September 5th, Joseph Rinaldi, the President of the Student Government, as well as the faculty and administration at Bryant, gather in the Chace Wellness Center’s MAC to welcome Bryant’s Class of 2022 at the university’s annual Convocation. He, along with President Ronald Machtley, Provost Glen Sulmasy, Vice President of Student Affairs John Saddlemire, and others, gave speeches sharing words of wisdom and welcome to the incoming freshman class. President Rinaldi’s remarks are below:
Overwhelmed. That is how I felt just three short years ago on my own freshman move-in day. Back when the halls were still numbered, the AIC a parking lot, and the floors of the suite village were still carpet. I’m sure many of you felt the same way; being unsure about what your experience will be like, having doubts about your ability to meet a new set of challenges, struggling to find confidence in your ability to learn the skills necessary to succeed in the world that awaits you. But like those who came before you, you too shall overcome.
Hello, my name is Joseph Rinaldi, and I have the pleasure and honor of serving each and every one of you as President of your Student Government. I’m in my second and final term as President serving the student body, and I could not be happier to be here with you this afternoon.
While aesthetically very different, this institution hasn’t changed in its aims for you, for me, or for the world that you will soon inhabit as business leaders, public servants, writers, educators, administrators, and so much more. You probably have big goals, like many of us. An idealism fueled by a newfound sense of adulthood and responsibility. An idealism that will lead you down paths you never thought you would venture, but leave you so grateful that you did.
However, I believe it is the little things – the day-to-day events, both planned and spontaneous – that, while on the surface may seem mundane, affect a profound and lasting change on your time here at Bryant.
I know that may sound strange. How could the big picture be dwarfed by the seemingly insignificant daily minutia? But what is life, if not a collection of small decisions. It truly is the little things. Last year, I was walking from class, past fellow students and the pond – a classic spring day at Bryant. At that moment, a prospective student was walking by and stopped me.
I was happy to speak with someone who could potentially be a new member of this great community that we are so fortunate to have. We talked for a little while; they asked me questions about the university and my experience here. Then, finally, they asked “Why do you love Bryant?” I thought to myself, what could I say about this amazing place in which I live? What is the one thing to sell them on, above all else?
Would it be how each and every person on this campus has a unique story to tell? How involved everyone is, whether they’re a part of a student organization or a club sport, an intramural or one of our incredibly dedicated varsity student-athletes, or in the Greek life community, or work for a job for department on campus or somewhere else, or serve as a Resident Assistant, or an Orientation Leader, or even have started their own company. No, that wasn’t it. Perhaps I would say it’s how much of a community this institution truly is; being able to walk from your dorm room to your classroom and knowing most, if not all, of the people you pass on your way. No, while all of these are awesome things about Bryant, I decided to sum it up in two words: “everyone cares.”
That’s the thing I said makes me love our campus above all else. Whatever you do here, you love it. Everyone has a passion for what they care about, and they care about each other. After that exchange, I continued back to my townhouse. But as I walked, I took in what had just happened. That brief interaction, that small occurrence, that ‘little thing’ – if even only during that fleeting moment in time – may have made a profound and lasting impact on that prospective student, it certainty did on me.
Now, my passion, the thing that I care about, is being a resource for people; which led me to this role and brought me here today. And as President, I try not to make too many promises, as there are only so many things one can say for certain will occur. But I am certain about the promises that I make to you now.
Look to you left, look to your right, now at yourself. I promise that the three people you just saw will have vastly different experiences here, and that is okay. You’ll never be completely sure about what your experience will be, you see everyone grows in their own way at their own pace. This is your path to pave. Your trail to blaze.
I promise you that there will be late nights. No matter how organized you might be, there will always be that GFOB business plan your team just didn’t start soon enough, or the essay you put off just a little too long. But you will triumph over these challenges, and it will be worth it. Perseverance is a skill that has been recognized in you already by your admission to this university; all you have to do now is recognize it in yourself.
I promise that Bryant will prepare you for your careers in ways that other universities have just not mastered yet. You will learn the skills that are essential in building towards, and eventually achieving, those big goals your idealistic young minds have set for yourself in the world that is yours to mold and shape and better with each passing day.
And finally, I promise that the days will be long, but the weeks will be short. These next four years will fly by faster than you ever could have ever imagined. Take my word for it. Just yesterday it seemed like I was walking the Unistructure halls for the first time as a Bryant student, today the long hallways are now like the familiar streets of my hometown. I do feel so old now, seeing all of you start this journey as mine comes to its end.
But the memories and experiences that I have had here, the ones you will soon have, make me feel prepared for whatever comes next. Careful though, blink and you could miss it, so take every chance and every opportunity that presents itself. You never know what little thing might lead you to your passion.
Now, on behalf of the entire student body, I honored to welcome you all, fellow Bulldogs, to your new home; to this institution, this university, this community that we call Bryant. You have picked the right place, and at right time, to partner with as you build the foundation of your future. So Good luck, have a lot of fun, thank you for listening, and Go Bulldogs!