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The 2013 Roger Williams Alumni Awards

Many graduates of Roger Williams University have brought extraordinary credit to their alma mater through both professional and personal achievements. This year, we are honored to recognize and celebrate three alumni who have had a significantly beneficial impact on society and our campus, advancing the common good and inspiring others to address challenges with insight and creativity. The actions of these alumni award recipients* communicate the dynamic excellence of a Roger Williams education and the importance of service as one of our core values.

*Alumni award recipients are selected by the Awards Committee which consists of at least five members of the Alumni Association Board.

The Roger Williams Alumni Association is proud to present the 2013 Alumni Award Winners:

Distinguished Alumnus/a of the Year Award

This award recognizes a graduate for significant long-term success in personal and professional achievements who has made outstanding contributions to his or her profession and has rendered distinguished service to the public welfare, thus honoring Roger Williams University and the Alumni Association.

The Roger Williams Alumni Association is proud to present the 2013 Distinguished Alumna of the Year Award to Pamela M. (Pinskey) Fernandes ’76.

Pamela M. (Pinskey) Fernandes '76
Bristol, Rhode Island

A consummate educator, Pamela devotes her career to providing a secure and inspirational environment for young children to build the foundational skills
they need to enter elementary school fully prepared and, more importantly, to establish a life-long love of learning. Director and co-owner of Sea Side Nursery School in Bristol, Rhode Island, Pamela is a graduate of the Community College of Rhode Island, with an Associate of Arts degree in 1973, and of Roger Williams University, with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Art Education and Elementary Education in 1976. An unsung hero like so many in the teaching
profession, Pamela has left a positive and indelible imprint on the lives of many in the community. As author Robert Fulghum explains in “All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten”, it’s the earliest days of our education and interaction with others that has the most profound impact on our lives. Recognizing this, Pamela strives to ensure that each student is provided with the supportive environment needed to succeed.

Pamela believes that the success of Sea Side Nursery School stems from her experience at RWU, of which she is very proud. After graduation, Pamela taught in the public school system for several years. She identified the need for a community school in which children could be explorative and taught through the active use of the arts. In September 1983, Pamela and her husband (fellow alum John Paul Fernandes ’75) opened Sea Side Nursery School.
An artist, singer and educator, Pamela brings a multitude of arts into the classroom to promote learning and build self-esteem. These unique educational experiences follow the graduates throughout their lives. RWU alumna Alexandra Yonan ’09 recalls: “It’s a wonderful place where children play, learn and grow. They learn to work together and respect one another, which is such an important skill. I’ve grown into the person I am today with the help of the wonderful and caring teachers at Sea Side.”

The school’s curriculum is enhanced by Pamela’s personal experiences as a mother (of two grown children), grandmother and long-time member of the Bristol community. Pamela is a professional singer and a registered teacher of “Music Together” – a children’s music and movement program. An avid gardener, she established an “Enchanted Garden” on the school’s property that is recognized as a Backyard Wildlife Space by the National Wildlife Federation. She studied with nationally recognized herbalists, earning certificates in herbal science and practice. This specialized knowledge is just one of the many distinctive aspects of the school’s curriculum that is so appreciated by the parents of children who attend. “The unique mix of routine and new experiences allows children to learn such interesting things – like which roots are edible and which are not! Sea Side is a place that nurtures a love of learning in children. It’s liberating. It means that a child can make choices and move beyond simply learning what others expect him to learn,” explains parent Alyssa Golden.

Pamela’s mission is to provide every child with their best possible start in life – an affordable and exceptional education – and that is why no child has ever been turned away from Sea Side, with financial scholarships awarded based on need. She allows RWU student teachers the opportunity to intern, observe or to do community service at Sea Side; and, she recently returned to RWU to share her career insights during the “Life After RWU – Career Conversations” program.

Listening to the heartfelt testimonials of Sea Side’s graduates, it’s clear that Pamela’s lessons are treasured for a lifetime. The words of Connecticut State Trooper and RWU alumnus, Sebastian Wordell ’05, ’07, echo what so many former students have to say: “I have the greatest feelings towards the school and its teachers. I attribute who I am today to the experiences and the education I received at Sea Side.”

After more than thirty years in education, Pamela continues to create an environment in which diverse opinions are shared and valued; she instills a love of
knowledge in her young students, introducing them to an exciting and wonderful world of endless possibilities.

Alumni Service Award

This award recognizes a graduate for outstanding service to Roger Williams University. This individual’s voluntary contributions, either directly or  through activity in the Alumni Association, shall have been over and beyond the normal call of duty.

The Roger Williams Alumni Association is proud to present the 2013 Alumni Service Award to William Geraghty ’78.

William Geraghty '78
Shelter Island, New York

Bill Geraghty ’78 has long been a supporter of his alma mater, giving back to the institution that gave him so much during his years at RWC. This year is particularly special for Bill since it is not only his 35th reunion, but it is also the 40th Anniversary of the Marine Biology program at RWU. Bill was one of the first to graduate from the program that taught him so much about the marine environment he grew up with and loved.

His ties to Roger Williams did not end after graduating Summa Cum Laude, but continued throughout the growth of the institution into a University. In the late 90s, at about the same time that Bill’s former professor and mentor, Dr. Mark Gould, was promoting aquaculture in the Ocean state, Bill became involved with the Southold Project for Aquaculture Training (SPAT) at the Cornell University facility on the east end of Long Island. Gould’s work led to the creation of the Center for Economic and Environmental Development (CEED) at RWU and Bill introduced the SPAT concept, which was the catalyst for the University’s very successful Oyster Gardening for Restoration and Enhancement (OGRE) program. That program facilitates the dialogue between oyster
farmers and the experts at CEED and, as Geraghty hopes, will one day repopulate our treasured bay with cultivated oysters. Dr. Gould passed away in 1999 and, in his honor, Geraghty spearheaded the Mark Gould Memorial Scholarship and Research Fund which has since helped many students pursue their dreams in the field of marine sciences. Bill later gifted the Lobster Mortar Board Society Observation Room, in the CEED building.

Since 2006, Bill has served as a member of the Alumni Board and has been an active participant in the association. He is currently an investment advisor with M.J. Whitman LLC. He has been with the MJ Whitman/Third Avenue Management Group for over 20 years. During that time Bill founded MJ Reality Debt Corp. and served as managing director; he was a partner of MJ Whitman LP and established Marine Creek Ranch LP, of which he is a general partner. Prior to MJ Whitman, he worked for Westinghouse Ocean Research on Martha’s Vineyard and for Aquacultural Research on Cape Cod. He also holds a Law degree from Hofstra University.

Bill and his wife, Kathleen, an award-winning graphic designer who runs her own studio, Black Kat Design, enjoy many activities that involve being in or on the water, travel and theater, while also being involved in a variety of agricultural and environmental organizations.

 Young Alumni Achievement Award

This award recognizes a recent graduate for significant short-term accomplishments who, in his/her first ten years since graduation, has made outstanding contributions to his or her chosen profession and has rendered distinguished service to the public welfare, thus honoring Roger Williams University and the Alumni Association.

The Roger Williams Alumni Association is proud to present the 2013 Young Alumni Achievement Award to Meghan Grady ’08M.