Recognizing an RIT first-responder

Student Spotlight
Matt Purcell, third-year industrial and systems engineering

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Matt Purcell, center, recipient of the 2011 Howard Freckleton and Roy Hamel Endowed Scholarship, stands with Jon Freckleton, son of Howard Freckleton, and Moira Hamel, wife of Roy Hamel.

Matt Purcell is president of RIT Ambulance and recipient of the 2011 Howard Freckleton and Roy Hamel Endowed Scholarship.

“The purpose of the scholarship is to recognize special young men and women in fire and EMS who have demonstrated excellence and to honor two fantastic first-responders who have answered their last calls,” says Timothy Keady, RIT’s associate director for wellness. “Matt is the perfect example of what these men stood for.”

Question: Where are you from?
Answer: Cherry Hill, N.J.

Q: Why did you decide to come to RIT?
A: I learned about RIT’s industrial engineering department during a campus visit. I liked the idea of being a part of a small group within the larger college community.

Q: What are you most proud of accomplishing?
A: I raised several thousand dollars for the Multiple Sclerosis Society as a VIP cyclist in the MS City to Shore ride, a two-day, 150-mile ride.

Q: What is something that most people wouldn’t know about you when they first meet you?
A:In high school I was an intern for the Federal Aviation Administration in the Philadelphia International Airport Air Traffic Control Tower. I helped to evaluate possible safety risks and hazards in adding a runway to the current airport layout.

Q: What types of things are you involved in around campus?
A: I’m currently the social chair for the RIT chapter of the Institute of Industrial Engineers and an emergency medical technician, president of RIT Ambulance.

Q: How did you get into RIT Ambulance (also called RITA)?
A:I saw a poorly copied recruitment flyer taped on my dorm’s wall during freshman move-in and impulsively signed up. I’ve been actively involved in RITA ever since.

Q: For those who have never been part of RIT Ambulance, what is the experience like, in one sentence?
A: Volunteering with RITA is like having the responsibility and dedication of a full-time job, while growing professionally and socially with your best friends at any hour of any day.

Q: What is your favorite part about it?
A: My favorite part is the rush of having only minutes to solve a mystery and making educated decisions that are very real.

Q: Any advice you would give to other RIT students?
A: Have fun. Use college not only to succeed academically, but to grow as a member of the community as well. Lastly, don’t miss out on Buffalo chicken wrap days at the SAU.

Scott Bureau covers student affairs for University News. Contact him at with “Student Spotlight” suggestions.