Nicholas Crenshaw ’20/TheCowl
by Hannah Langley ’21
Besides being known for its liberal arts education, Providence College also boasts its science department, which offers a large variety of science-based majors. This past Friday, September 28, PC officially unveiled the new Science Complex to the public as part of the celebration of St. Dominic’s Weekend.
The unveiling began with a speech from Kelly Page ’93 titled “Beyond Blackboards and White Coats: An Uncommon Career in Science.” Page was asked to give this speech as part of the Anna E. Lavoie Memorial Lecture Series, an annual speech and dedication that began last year.
Page was not only a biology and chemistry double major, but was also part of PC’s rigorous Liberal Arts Honors Program. She currently works as the vice president of the German oncology business unit at Takeda Oncology, a growing and successful pharmaceutical business.
In her speech, Page emphasized that her current position is not where she started and, most importantly, is not where she saw herself when she graduated. Page talked about how during her senior year at PC, she decided she did not want to attend medical school, which had been her original goal, and instead came out of college to work for a family friend at Pfizer, one of the world’s largest pharmaceutical companies.
It was here that Page realized there was more to the field of science than, as she put it “blackboards, teaching, and lab coats,” or, in other words, teaching or working in a laboratory for hours on end.
She explained the different categories of the pharmaceutical company, which includes research, development, and commercialism, and explained how she realized how many departments were actually included in each of these categories.
“There are so many other opportunities you never knew existed,” said Page, emphasizing the idea that she didn’t figure out what she was truly passionate about until later on in her career. “You don’t always know what you’re going to do,” Page continued, “science is just the foundation.”
In 1999, Page’s life was dramatically altered by the diagnosis of three of her loved ones, including her father, with lymphoma, a cancer that affects the lymphatic system, which acts to fight diseases in the body.
It was at this time in her life that Page decided she wanted to work in oncology, the study of cancer, and help in the development of drugs that fight cancer. “My passion became to find the cure for cancer,” said Page. This passion then led her to become the project manager of oncology at Pfizer and, later, the same position at Takeda Oncology.
Page talked about why she loved being a project manager, saying, “The cross-functional nature of the team excited and energized me about my job.”
She also shared that her interest with project management and the business aspect of pharmaceuticals intrigued her, leading her to the decision of returning to school to graduate with an MBA in project management from the University of Rhode Island in 2002.
Page also talked about why she was more interested in the business and commercial end of the pharmaceutical industry than other roles, saying, “Commercial is where you make the drug accessible, and I liked that better than the internal work.” She continued, explaining, “A lot of what I do is think of what patients need and what caregivers need.”
Page says the impact of her work is what makes it so exciting for her every day. She explained how she chose the pharmaceutical industry, saying, “It comes down to the impact you have. The broad reach is unmatched by any other industry.”
Not only did Page talk about her experience beyond PC, but she also mentioned how what she learned at PC impacts her today.
“People would tell me I ‘think differently,’” Page explained, and she attributed this to her liberal-arts based education. “Civ teaches you how to integrate ideas, which is exactly what you do on a cross-functional team,” said Page.
She encouraged the science majors present at the speech to use the skills they learn at PC in their careers throughout their lives.
The speech was then followed by a blessing, a ribbon cutting ceremony, and a dinner in honor of the new Science Complex.
Dr. Charles Toth, associate professor and chair of the biology department, noted his enthusiasm for the new facilities. He said the renovation was long overdue, and is excited for the improvements that are to come in the next few years.