The Regional Student Program (RSP) Tuition Break celebrates its 60th year in 2017.
The New England Board of Higher Education is holding briefings in the six state houses to recognize participating institutions, alumni and students. We are hearing from alumni and students throughout the region about how they benefited from the RSP.
Remarks by RSP Alum Jeffrey Emidy, Deputy Director, Rhode Island Historical Preservation and Heritage Commission at NEBHE’s Briefing on 60 Years of the Regional Student Program, Rhode Island State House, Feb. 7, 2017
My name is Jeffrey Emidy. I’m the Deputy Director and Deputy State Historic Preservation Officer at the Rhode Island Historical Preservation and Heritage Commission, your state agency that protects historic buildings, monuments, and landscapes.
I volunteered to come here today to show my support for the New England Regional Student Tuition Break Program and to explain how it has helped me to further my career here in Rhode Island.
I grew up in Woonsocket and attended the public schools. From there, I went to the University of New Hampshire and graduated in 1994 with a bachelor’s degree in history and a minor in business administration.
I returned home to Rhode Island and put my degree to work volunteering from time to time as a docent at Slater Mill, the birthplace of the Industrial Revolution in America, in Pawtucket.
During my time in college, I had heard about the field of historic preservation. By graduation, I had decided that I wanted to get a master’s degree in that discipline.
Master’s of Science programs in Historic Preservation were rare in the late 1990s. I applied to all six of the programs nationwide and was accepted to five, in Georgia, Indiana, Michigan, Tennessee, and Vermont. I really wanted to go to the University of Vermont, because its program is one of the oldest and most well-regarded historic preservation graduate degree programs in the country. The curriculum includes the study of historic architecture, development patterns, development economics, construction systems and techniques, and preservation law. Among others, the UVM program has turned out state historic preservation officers; historic preservation officers of federal agencies; executive directors and field representatives of prominent non-profit preservation organizations; and principals and associates of historic preservation consulting firms and cultural resource management companies nationwide.
But, UVM was pretty expensive. Georgia was the least expensive, so despite the challenges of moving over a thousand miles away, I planned to go there. Having already committed to UGA, I visited the school and realized that I was not going to enjoy being there for the next two years. I called the University of Vermont from Georgia and asked their program head to throw out my rejection of their offer, which he did. Then, I had to pull together the financing.
I remembered or came across something about the New England Regional Student Tuition Break Program and applied for it. Since none of Rhode Island’s state schools offers a master’s degree in Historic Preservation – and still don’t – I was accepted into the program.
After my first year at UVM, I utilized the State Government Internship Program to secure a position over the summer at the Rhode Island Historical Preservation and Heritage Commission, my current office. I went back to Vermont and graduated in 2000.
Based primarily on my graduate school experience, I secured a position at one of New England’s leading cultural resource management firms, The Public Archaeology Lab, in Pawtucket. After five years, my combination of education and work experience helped me to get an entry-level position back at Rhode Island’s preservation commission. That was 12 years ago. Now I’m the deputy director.
There are a fairly good number of UVM historic preservation graduates working in Rhode Island right now. In fact, including myself, there are three – two from RI and one from Maine – among the 16-person staff of my office. All three of us took advantage of the Regional Tuition program.
Since my graduation, I’ve lectured at historical societies around the state, taught courses in a RISD continuing education historic preservation program, guest lectured in the historic preservation program at Roger Williams University, and served on the Local Historic District Commission of the Town of Cumberland back when our Lieutenant Governor was the mayor of that town. I have no doubt that the caché of UVM’s historic preservation program helped to open doors for me in my career. And I know that without the Regional Tuition Program I would not have been able to afford to attend UVM. Thanks to that program, my loans are paid off, and have been for quite a while. I’m in the office I always wanted to work in, and I get to help Rhode Islanders experience the state’s history around them every day. The RSP helped me achieve my professional dreams.
Thank you for the opportunity to share my story with you, on behalf of this important program.
RSP Program: Historic Preservation, University of Vermont
Home state: Rhode Island
Current: Deputy Director, Rhode Island Historical Preservation and Heritage Commission
Here is what some other alumni of the RSP are saying about how they benefited from the RSP.
I knew that I wanted to attend the University of Connecticut and earn a degree that would allow me to pursue a career in the international realm. The Latin American Studies program at UConn allowed me that opportunity. Without the RSP Tuition Break, I would not have been able to afford the cost of this education without a large amount of debt. After graduating with about $20,000 in student loans, I was able to pay off 25% through my AmeriCorps Alumni Educational Stipend. These two programs allowed me to pay off my student loans in under 10 years.
RSP Program: Latin American Studies, University of Connecticut
Home State: New Hampshire
Current: Associate Director, World Affairs Council of New Hampshire
Had it not been for the RSP Tuition Break I wouldn’t be working in my dream job. It also lessened the financial burden of high student loan payments, particularly in the years following graduation when I was earning a low salary but gaining valuable experience. Thank you NEBHE.
Hayley LaPoint Politis
RSP Program: Meteorology (BS) & TV News (AS), Lyndon State College
Home State: Massachusetts
Current: Broadcast Meteorologist, WMUR-TV, Manchester, NH
The University of Vermont was on the top of my list of preferred universities, but it was also significantly more expensive than the Massachusetts state university where I also had been accepted. Although a degree in Russian was not offered in-state, the cost difference was too great until I realized I was eligible for the RSP Tuition Break. The RSP Tuition Break gave me the ability to pursue the degree and future that I wanted. I graduated from UVM and went on to become a Fulbright ETA in Russia, the country that I had hoped my degree would one day take me to.
RSP Program: Russian, University of Vermont
Home State: Massachusetts
If it wasn’t for the RSP Tuition Break, I would not be where I am today. Not only did it determine where I went to college, but it enabled me to follow my dreams and passions. This was the steppingstone to my future. (Watch Senator Chennette’s Tuition Break video promotion here.)
Sen. Justin Chenette
RSP Program: Electronic Journalism Arts (TV and Broadcasting Studies), Lyndon State College, Vermont
Home state: Maine
Current: Maine State Senator; Digital Advertising Executive, Journal Tribune, Biddeford, Maine
In 2007 I said, “It was a big help and definitely made it affordable to attend college out of state. Had it not been for the tuition break I likely would have selected a different major and attended a less expensive college in my home state, which would have drastically changed my life.” I stand by those words today — 12 years after graduating with a bachelor’s in Creative Writing. I remain grateful that I had the opportunity to start down a path, thanks to the RSP Tuition Break, that would lead me toward a career in journalism.
RSP Program: Creative Writing (BFA), Johnson State College
Current: Managing Editor, Kennebec Journal, Augusta, Maine
The New England Regional Student Program made it possible for me to attend the college of my choice, while keeping tuition cost to a minimum. Otherwise I would have had to pay full out of state tuition.
RSP Program: Sound Recording Technology, University of Massachusetts Lowell
Home state: New Hampshire
Current: Gateway Mastering Studios, Portland, Maine
The RSP certainly made it more affordable upon graduating by not incurring a mountain of debt like many of my friends experienced. I feel like it gave me a financial head start compared to many of my fellow graduates that had to pay the full out-of-state tuition.
RSP Program: Marine Affairs, University of Rhode Island
Home state: Massachusetts
Current: Owner, Aquamarine Services, Hull, Mass.
It had been my dream to become an Occupational Therapist and knowing that none of my state’s schools provided me with that option. RSP Tuition Break gave me the opportunity to attend an out-of-state university while reducing the significant burden of the out-of-state cost. Without the RSP Tuition Break, I may not have had the chance to continue my education.
RSP Program: Occupational Therapy, University of Southern Maine
Home state: Connecticut
Current: Registered Occupational Therapist, Connecticut
Thank you so much New England Board of Higher Education. The RSP Tuition Break allowed me to save thousands of dollars to use toward my graduate studies at a veterinary school in Europe. My undergrad studies at the University of New Hampshire featured an exchange semester in Alaska tracking Dusky Dolphin migration patterns and a semester in New Zealand studying Ecology. I am very thankful.
RSP Program: Marine, Estuarine, and Freshwater Biology, University of New Hampshire
Home state: Connecticut