RIT student, graduate meet in Tanzania

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Evan Gelfand (left) and Alison (Chiappelone) Riley met in Serengeti National Park.

Alison (Chiappelone) Riley ’98 (graphic design) was sent to Tanzania this summer to get marketing footage for her company Thomson Safaris.

Evan Gelfand, a fifth-year mechanical engineering student, happened to be in Tanzania at the same time on vacation.

While in Serengeti National Park, Riley spotted Gelfand wearing RIT lacrosse shorts.

“She came up to me when I was wearing my RIT shorts and she joked that she thought I stole her shorts,” says Gelfand, 22.

Riley, the art director for Thomson Safaris in Watertown, Mass., had packed the same shorts. “You go all the way out to the Serengeti to meet someone from your college,” she says.

Riley has worked at Thomson Safaris for four years. After graduating from RIT, she worked for a dot-com that went under so she traveled around Europe.

Her biggest passion, she says, is traveling. So one day she walked into Thomson Safaris, down the street from where she lives, and applied for a job. Riley, who was in Tanzania to direct a film crew, also climbed Mount Kilimanjaro and made it to the summit.

Gelfand hopes to graduate in May 2011. He would like to go into manufacturing and eventually open his own machine shop.

Gelfand says he was surprised but not totally shocked that he ran into a RIT alumna in Africa because he has met others who have had great opportunities and positions in their careers.

“It always feels good meeting successful RIT graduates,” he says. “It definitely motivates me to work hard in school.”