Community College of Rhode Island (CCRI)
Community College of Rhode Island (CCRI)

Ten Community College of Rhode Island alumni will be inducted into the college’s Society of Knights and Squires as part of the CCRI Foundation and Alumni Association’s 2022 Outstanding Alumni Awards.

The awards ceremony takes place Thursday, November 17 at 6 pm at CCRI’s Warwick campus. Tickets can be purchased online. Honorees are recognized for their professional achievements, community service, and volunteerism on behalf of the college. This year’s Oustanding Alumni are: Central Falls Mayor Maria Rivera ’99, Jeffrey C. Wright Jr. ’08, Adam Arabian ’06, Angela Creta ’98, Carmen Diaz-Jusino ’96, Yvette Ford ’05, Mariela Lucaj ’18, David Mota ’20, Alyse A. Smith ’12, and Sergio Sousa ’04.

CCRI provided the following background on the inductees;

Smythe, a Newport, RI, native, is a Special Assistant Attorney General at the Rhode Island Attorney General’s Office assigned to the Narcotics and Violent Crime Unit. She earned her associate degree in Paralegal Studies at CCRI in 2012, graduating with Highest Honors, before graduating cum laude at Roger Williams University with her bachelor’s degree in Legal Studies and Political Science. Smyth also obtained her Juris Doctor in 2018 from the Roger Williams University School of Law where she was a member of several organizations, including the Moot Court Executive Board, Trial Team, and the Alternative Spring Break Program as a Pro Bono Leader and Co-Coordinator.

The Honorable Mayor Rivera, born in Camden, NJ, became Central Falls’ 33rd mayor in November 2020 – 33 years after moving to Central Falls with her parents – winning 77 percent of the vote. She is the first woman mayor in the city’s history and the state’s first Latina mayor. A 1995 graduate of Central Falls, Rivera earned an associate degree at CCRI in 1999 and her Bachelor of Arts in Public Administration from Roger Williams University. Growing up, she took many ESL classes to learn the English language since her parents only spoke Spanish at home. During her administration, she has prioritized the health and wellness of Central Falls residents during the COVID-19 pandemic along with addressing the housing crisis, educational opportunities, nonviolence and safety, and other key programs supporting residents.

Wright, a Providence, RI, native and current Woonsocket, RI, resident, is the Assistant Principal at Veterans Memorial Elementary School in Central Falls. A devoted husband and proud father of two children, Wright is a passionate educator and community advocate who has worked with children in various settings for more than two decades. He earned his associate degree from CCRI in 2008 and went on to earn his bachelor’s degree in History from Ashford University followed by his Master of Education from Providence College. In addition to his role as an assistant principal, Wright is currently enrolled in the Doctor of Educational Leadership Program at Johnson and Wales University, serves as the Vice Chair on the Education Committee for the NAACP Providence Branch, and sits on CCRI’s Alumni Association Assembly Board.

A Warwick, RI, native, Arabian is a U.S. Army combat veteran who served on the Army’s 10th Mountain Division and is currently Vice President, Head of Field Operations and Oversight in the Consumer Cards business for Goldman Sachs Bank USA. In his role with Goldman Sachs, Arabian manages the General Motors dealership co-branded card portfolio, as well as the overall execution of the Field Engagement strategy. He joined the company in 2021 supporting the launch of the General Motors co-branded card partnership, in addition to assembling and pioneering Goldman Sachs first Field Engagement Team. Arabian earned his associate degree from CCRI in 2006 and his bachelor’s degree in Organizational Management from St. Joseph’s University (New York).

Creta, a Cranston, RI, resident, is the Senior Advisor, Director Professional Practice at Dana Farber Cancer Institute and is accountable for directing, coordinating, and assisting with implementation and evaluation of programs and initiatives that support nurses/nursing staff and comply with professional standards of practice. After earning her Associate of Nursing degree at CCRI in 1998, Creta went on to earn her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Nursing from the University of Rhode Island and her Doctor of Nursing Practice from Simmons College in Boston. Having participated in CCRI and American Nurses Association mentoring programs, Creta is also a member of the American Organization of Nurse Leaders, Association of Nurses Professional Development, and Oncology Nursing Society in addition to being board certified by the American Nurses Credentialing Center in both Nursing Professional Development and Nurse Executive Specialties.

Born in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic and now living in Providence, Diaz-Jusino is the Vice President, Community Development Officer at BankNewport. In this role, she is responsible for developing, implementing and administering many strategic aspects of BankNewport’s Community Reinvestment Act Program through banking relationships with community-based, charitable, and non-profit organizations. Diaz-Jusino earned her associate degree in Social Studies from CCRI in 1996, her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from the Universidad del Caribe in Mexico, and a Master of Science in Organizational Management and Leadership from Springfield College. In addition to her role at BankNewport, she is a past Chair of the Board of the Economic Progress Institute, the Rhode Island Latino Civic Fund, and the Commission for the Minority Women Business Enterprise (MWBE) for the City of Providence. She also served as a Commissioner for the Rhode Island Commission on Women, and served on the board of the Women’s Fund of Rhode Island, Rhode Island State Council of the Arts, South Eastern Economic Development (SEED) Corporation, United Way of Rhode Island, and the National Association of Women Business Centers.

A first-generation college graduate born in Providence, RI, Ford is a Senior Regulatory Clinical Consultant for Blue Cross Blue Shield RI and also owns her own business, Last Made First, which she launched in 2021 amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, to empower and educate nurses and help them navigate their career with purpose to improve retention rates within the industry. The youngest of five children in her family, Ford earned her Associate of Nursing degree at CCRI in 2005 and returned to college a decade later to earn her bachelor’s from New England Institute of Technology in 2015. Ford also earned her Master of Business Administration from Walden University and crossed over into the private insurance industry, where she assumed a variety of roles, including Telephonic Case Manager, Medicare Compliance, and Mental Health Parity Compliance.

Born in North Kingstown, RI, Lucaj is a Registered Nurse and a current full-time Master of Business Administration candidate at the D’Amore-McKim School of Business at Northeastern University concentrating in Analytics and International Business. Lucaj earned her Associate in Nursing from CCRI in 2018 and her bachelor’s in Nursing from URI in 2020 while working as an RN at Rhode Island Hospital in the neurosurgical, medical-surgical, and acute rehabilitation units. In March 2020 amidst the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, she worked as a Crisis Travel Nurse for Cross Country Nurses, which took her to Maryland, Texas, and Massachusetts. In that role, Lucaj provided nursing care to COVID-19 patients with respiratory failure and lung infections. She has been studying for her MBA since 2021 and is a member of D’Amore-McKim’s Consulting Club and Women in Business Club.

Mota, a Pawtucket, RI, native and first-generation college graduate, is a Diagnostic and Interventional X-Ray Technologist at The Miriam Hospital. He earned his associate degree from CCRI in 2020 and is currently studying at Rhode Island College to complete his bachelor’s degree in Medical Imaging Management. Mota aspires to lead a group of passionate health professionals in Interventional Radiography while setting a positive example for his younger sister. Understanding the impact education has made on his life, Mota also participated in College Leadership Rhode Island, a youth development program that empowers young leaders throughout the state.

A native of Pawtucket, Sousa is the Regional Vice President of Marketing for Bally’s Twin River Lincoln Casino Resort and Bally’s Tiverton Casino & Hotel where he oversees 10 departments across both properties and is responsible for managing the day-to-day operations for Advertising, Entertainment, Promotions, Player Development, and Retail. With more than two decades of experience in the casino industry, Sousa started at the former Lincoln Park as a slot attendant before working his way through various departments. He earned his associate degree in Business Administration from CCRI in 2004. A proud father of three, Sousa was named to Providence Business News’ prestigious “40 Under 40” list in 2016.

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