SG director preparing for Brick City Homecoming’s Horton Speaker

Student Spotlight
Ellen Raffaelle, third-year international hospitality and service management

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Ellen Raffaelle, RIT Student Government director of programming, is finishing final preparations for the Horton Distinguished Speaker, Jamie Hyneman, at Brick City Homecoming & Family Weekend.

Ellen Raffaelle, a third-year international hospitality and service management student, is putting the finishing touches on the planning of Student Government’s Horton Distinguished Speaker, Jamie Hyneman, for Brick City Homecoming & Family Weekend. As director of programing, she is in charge of organizing the large-scale event and introducing Hyneman. The Mendon, N.Y., native is also the director of public relations and marketing for the Italian Club.

Question: What brought you to RIT?
Answer: My dad works here so I grew up with RIT. I always used to come in and visit him. He is a physicist so I would work in the lab on the computers. I just fell in love with the school so it was an easy choice picking it.

Q: Why did you choose to major in international hospitality and service management?
A: When I decided to come to RIT, I applied and got accepted into the psychology program. The summer before I came here I met two event organizers at a science conference with my dad. The organizers showed me what they did and I shadowed them for a day. I just fell in love with event planning and I switched to hospitality during orientation. Event planning really fits my personality. I feel like events really enrich peoples’ lives and get them together and talking.

Q: Why did you want to get involved with Student Government?
A: I wanted to get involved with SG because I feel like I have a close connection to RIT. I’m very passionate about the community here and I wanted to listen to students and help improve the campus. The position also involved event planning, which is my forte so that was very enticing.

Q: What are your responsibilities as organizer of the Horton Distinguished Speaker?
A: I’m responsible for student staffing, reserved seating, signage and marketing. I helped create and run two contests for students to win tickets to see Jamie Hyneman. I will also be introducing Jamie and presenting him with a gift, an orange beret, on stage. Although I’m mainly in charge of the event, CAB and the whole SG team has helped me as well.

Q: What will Jamie Hyneman be presenting?
A: The presentation will be interview style with the interviewer sitting down and talking with Jamie. He will be talking about what it’s like to be on the “MythBusters” show. He is the brains behind “MythBusters” and enjoys science so he is perfect for RIT. I think he will be talking about his personal life as well, which is actually very interesting. At the age of 14, he ran away from home and hitchhiked all over the U.S. He also is a deep-sea diver and has a degree in Russian linguistics.

Q: What did you learn from planning the event?
A: Organization is key especially when planning a large-scale event. I’m just in charge of so many different things with this event that I really learned how to stay organized. Every aspect I have to keep separate from every other aspect. I have a little programming book where I write everything down.

Q: What are some of your goals for Student Government this year?
A: I want to plan some great events for students. I want to push for advocacy and inform students about our different services such as PawPrints, RITpedia and Bikeshare. I would also like to connect more with our global campuses.

Q: What is your favorite memory from your time at RIT?
A: My favorite thing would have to be study abroad. There are so many opportunities for students to study abroad here. I had the chance to study in Dubrovnik, Croatia, last semester. It was a life-changing experience and I grew a lot from it. The co-op opportunities are great as well. Last fall I was marketing and registration assistant for Brick City Homecoming so I am very familiar with the event.

Q: As you get closer to graduation, what are your plans?
A: I’m minoring in business in case I want to pursue a master’s degree in business. If not, I will look for a full-time job as an event planner. I would love to work in New York City or internationally.

For more information on the Horton Distinguished Speaker, click here.

Traci Turner compiles “Student Spotlight” for University News. Contact her at with suggestions.