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COLA Connections Newsletter

From the Desk of the Dean


This has been an incredibly successful year for the College of Liberal Arts. As we wrap up the first year of semesters here at RIT I must extend a sincere thank you to all students, faculty, and staff who have helped make the transition a success. This triumph is reflected in the successful-ness of our students, who celebrated their graduation on May 23rd.

This newsletter profiles four individuals who exemplify the excellence of the College of Liberal Arts. Kayla Emerson, who is one of few female physics and philosophy double major students in the nation, is the 2014 undergraduate delegate for COLA. Pedro Vazquez, an outstanding student and criminal justice advocate, had the honor of representing his fellow graduate students during the commencement ceremonies. Dr. Kirsten Condry shares her thoughts on being named the 2014 recipient of the Eisenhart Award for Outstanding Teaching, the highest teaching award RIT offers. Finally, alumnus Dr. Debra Heath-Thornton shares her post-RIT story, one that led her to being named one of RIT’s 2014 Distinguished Alumi.

As this school year comes to a close I would once again like to thank all members the College of Liberal Arts community for a successful year. To all returning students, have a fantastic summer break! To all graduating sections, we wish you the best of luck in all of your endeavors!

2014 College of Liberal Arts Distinguished Alumna - Dr. Debra Heath-Thornton

Dr. Debra Heath-Thornton

RIT has been “the institution that set the fountain for my life and career,” said Dr. Debra Heath-Thornton.

Heath-Thornton was named the 2014 College of Liberal Arts Distinguished Alumna. She graduated in 1981 with a B.S. in Criminal Justice and is now the Executive Dean of the Campolo College of Graduate and Professional Studies at Eastern University in the Philadelphia region of Pennsylvania.

After graduating from RIT,  Heath-Thornton achieved a fulfilling career in the Criminal Justice Field. She worked as a Victim Advocate before completing her Master’s degree in Criminal Justice at the State University of New York College at Buffalo. She then became a Criminal Justice Administrator, a position that put her in charge of all criminal justice system operations in a county law enforcement agency.


2014 Undergraduate Graduation Delegate for COLA - Kayla Emerson

Kayla Emerson

“Why choose when you can have it all,” stated Kayla Emerson. She is the 2014 Undergraduate Graduation Delegate for the College of Liberal Arts.

Emerson is a student in both the College of Liberal Arts and the College of Science, graduating with a dual degree in Physics and Philosophy. Although not closely related, she says that she chose these two areas of study because they cover a vast spectrum of knowledge. “I didn’t want my education to be specialized,” she said. “I wanted to study a broad range of topics. Physics and Philosophy do just that.”


Faculty and Student Spotlights

Megan Moltrup   Faculty Spotlight - Dr. Kirsten Condry
Dr. Kirsten Condry came to RIT when the opportunity arose for her to move back to her roots in Upstate New York. With her she brought an extensive knowledge of her field and an enthusiasm for teaching that has been a gift to the students of the College of Liberal Arts. Her passion for what she does shows, as she has been named the 2014 recipient of the Eisenhart Award for Outstanding Teaching.
Steve Bodnar   Student Spotlight - Pedro Vazquez
Among the wide array of student backgrounds in the College of Liberal Arts Pedro Vazquez’s unique life experiences set him apart as a devoted and caring individual.

His background has also given him a distinctly positive outlook and desire to give back to his community, and to pay it forward. His passion for success, determination to help others, as well as his academic triumphs have all been instrumental to Pedro being selected as the COLA graduation delegate.