Measuring RIT by student success

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Luticha Douchette

As we draw closer to the end of another academic year, I anticipate being asked about the “health” of the university. It is certainly easy to boast about our numbers—enrollment (an all-time high of 17,652), endowment ($640 million), annual research funding ($52 million), eight degree programs ranked in the top 10 nationally—to rattle off a few statistics.

Yet what better way to measure the health of the university than to recount success stories of our students from the past year. Our students make us proud in many ways. Here are a few examples:

Luticha Doucette, a fourth-year bioinformatics student, is the reigning Ms. Wheelchair New York 2011. She won second runner-up at the 40th annual Ms. Wheelchair America Pageant. Doucette also is developing a motorized wheelchair app for the Android phone. And she stays busy doing a research project on protein algorithms that determine the surface area of proteins.

Adam Walker won a fellowship through the Kauffman Foundation. The Kauffman Fellows program identifies, develops and networks the next generation of global leaders in the venture capital industry. Walker, a graduate student in our College of Liberal Arts, will serve as an apprentice with a venture capital firm. And he will continue as executive director of Kosovo Wind Gardens, leading students at RIT and American University in Kosovo on a clean energy venture. (See related story on page 16.)

Among the 5,000-plus Army ROTC cadets across the country, Andrew Blair is considered a leader. Blair ranked No. 5 on the Army ROTC Order of Merit list, a prestigious ranking of senior cadets from 273 universities across the nation. At RIT, Blair is also involved with research that is critical for a soldier’s safety. He is part of a team that collects data about a soldier’s exposure to explosive blasts that will assist with head injuries in the battlefield.

The classroom travels right along with Sandy Nealon as she manages her territory from New York to New Hampshire for Xerox Corp. She found a way to be both a successful online student (multidisciplinary studies) and manager of the company’s technical solutions group, sometimes traveling more than 1,000 miles a week and maintaining a 3.5 GPA. For this, the Rochester Area Colleges Continuing Education Association recognized her as an Outstanding Adult Scholar.

Samuel Sandoval, an RIT/NTID information technology major, is CEO of DeafTechNews, a website that offers reviews on the latest technology important to deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals. He completed a co-op assignment with Cisco Systems, where he helped the company develop products that are more accessible to deaf individuals. This included RIT launching Rochester’s first TelePresence Center in Lyndon Baines Johnson Hall.

We recently learned that 100 percent of 24 graduates taking the rigorous Physician Assistant National Certifying Exam passed the board test on the first try—a remarkable two consecutive years of 100 percent passing rate for our physician assistant students.

And yes, our students have fun: The RIT Quidditch team (the game of Harry Potter lore) finished in second place at a national competition in New York City.

That is our short list. With graduation approaching, we’ve just begun to scratch the surface of student success around campus.

Cordially Yours,

Bill Destler