ROTC student earns Gold Congressional Award

Student Spotlight
Gabriel Curcione, first-year mechanical engineering technology major

Follow RITNEWS on Twitter

Gabriel Curcione, center, at the Congressional Award Silver Medal ceremony in April 2016.

Gabriel Curcione, a first-year mechanical engineering technology student, is a member of the Air Force ROTC. In high school, Curcione began working toward a U.S. Congressional Award. The Congressional Award was established by the U.S. Congress in 1979 to recognize initiative, service and achievement in young people. It is nonpartisan, voluntary and open to young people ages 13-23. The Congressional Award recognizes the setting and meeting of goals in four program areas: volunteer public service, personal development, physical fitness and expedition/exploration. Last April, Curcione was honored with a Silver Congressional Award, and this summer he is due to receive his Gold.

Away from the classroom and ROTC, Curcione, from Wilson, N.Y., enjoys golf, tennis and sailing.

Question: What brought you to RIT?
Answer: The opportunity to participate in the Air Force ROTC was an important factor in my decision to attend RIT. I am a mechanical engineering technology major, and I know that RIT will provide the opportunity to be on the cutting edge of new technologies.

Q: What factors led to your decision to major in mechanical engineering technology and also dedicate yourself to ROTC?
A: I decided to study mechanical engineering because it is such a diverse field with so many opportunities to specialize. At RIT I feel like I can choose to be on the forefront of new technologies for industries including space, defense or even health care.

Although I am not on scholarship with Air Force ROTC, I feel a strong desire to serve my country. The knowledge I have gained at RIT combined with the leadership skills taught in Air Force ROTC will help me to make sound decisions based on critical thinking in one of the world’s most advanced tech organizations, the U.S. Air Force.

Q: What is your favorite part about being a part of ROTC?
A: The physical fitness training serves as a release from being in classes. It is fun and it gives me an opportunity to build camaraderie and get to know people in a different environment.

Q: When did you begin working toward earning your award, and what led to your decision to do so?
A: I began working on my Congressional Award in high school. It was a way to organize all of my projects and goals and track my progress within them. Not only did I meet the personal goals that I set for myself, but through working with my mentors, I was encouraged to think bigger and work smarter. I learned about programs and opportunities for teens and young adults throughout the United States that I previously didn’t know existed.

Q: What has the process leading up to earning this award entailed?
A: Learning how to categorize, track and document activities is an important skill that I had to acquire. I put hundreds of hours into voluntary public service, personal development, physical fitness and exploration activities. In addition to the time spent executing the activities, I also spent hundreds of hours reflecting on projects, setting and obtaining new goals and documenting activities for the award.

Q: What does earning this award mean to you?
A: Self-development and community service are driving forces in my life. Although public recognition of my effort is not necessary, it is nice because it provides validation of a job well done. In addition, opportunities that come as a result of receiving this award provide a chance for me to inspire others to continue working toward their goals.

Q: What are your plans following your graduation from RIT?
A: I have a strong sense of duty and a desire to serve my country. I feel that everything that I have learned at RIT will make me a valuable and productive officer in the United States Air Force.

Lauren Peace compiles “Student Spotlight” for University News. Contact her at with suggestions.