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Big Ideas and Even Bigger Dreams Thrive at URI 

Anna Cetera ’24, an aspiring engineer, was born and raised in Rhode Island by a single immigrant mother. Growing up, she harbored dreams that seemed too big for her small home state, a sentiment shared by many young Rhode Islanders.

When it came to choosing a college, she was hoping to go out of state, but through the encouragement and advice of her mother, she chose URI. She immediately felt at home in the tight-knit engineering community and was glad that she followed her mother’s advice.

As a double major in biomedical engineering and Spanish, Cetera has not allowed her demanding course load to deter her from seizing every opportunity on campus. Her active involvement includes serving as an ambassador for the International Engineering Program (IEP), a member of the College of Engineering Dean’s Student Advisory Board, a mentor through the SPARK Program and College of Engineering Connect Mentorship Program, vice president of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, the outreach chair for the Society for Women Engineers, and several research positions at the University.

“URI uniquely provides a distinctive sense of community among its faculty, students, and beyond. The mentors with whom I formed personal and professional relationships led me to shift my career path,” said Cetera. “As a first-generation college student, my initial plans were to obtain a bachelor’s degree in engineering, which would have been an accomplishment, but it wasn’t until I sought out research opportunities here that I discovered my true curiosity and passion.”

Scholarships allow students the freedom to focus on their studies and succeed. Without scholarship support, Cetera wouldn’t have been able to take an unpaid research internship, study abroad in Spain, or get involved with several volunteer opportunities, all things she saw as critical to her personal and professional development.

“Through the financial support system at URI, attending my state school turned out to be a great choice. I not only found my place and my community but also developed such a strong connection to the school that I decided to stay on for a master’s degree. The opportunities to make an impact and be successful, whether in research or your professional and personal life, are endless.”

Cetera will continue her journey as she pursues a master’s degree in electrical engineering, focusing on real-time systems and neural networks to advance noninvasive brain computer interface systems. She aspires to earn a Ph.D. in BCI development and would like to establish her own laboratory to provide support and mentorship to aspiring students.