by Malena Aylwin ’22
Kelli Jenney ’19 has quite a busy schedule. She has been actively involved with many clubs throughout her three and a half years at Providence College.
With a double major in social work and history, Jenney is planning to continue to go to school to earn a J.D.
She is very passionate about social work and helping the homeless. “My passion for working with the homeless population came when I was a freshman at my high school,“ Jenney stated, “and started encountering people experiencing homelessness on a daily basis.“
Jenney commented on how she has grown in knowledge on Catholic social thought and the importance of respecting the human dignity of every person at every stage of life in her religion classes, saying “I started to realize that our brothers and sisters experiencing homelessness are some of the people who receive the least amount of aid and support at a federal level.”
Jenney discussed how she has seen these people go through some of the hardest experiences life has to offer. However, she noted, “they still find the strength to pick themselves up and try to better their situations.”
Early last year, Jenney co-founded the Student Advisory Board for Mental Health and Wellness. The main mission of the board is to better educate the campus on the mental health resources PC provides while also improving the way we address mental health as a college community.
The board consists of nine members, plus the six founding members who listen to peers’ suggestions and address issues with the student population’s mental health needs.
”We meet every week on Wednesday evenings to plan different events coming up, brainstorm new ways to connect with the study body, and talk about different concerns brought to our attention. We have a great relationship with the Personal Counseling Center and those working with the SAMHSA Grant, including Dr. Campbell and Cheryl Granai,” stated Jenney.
Jenney is also heavily involved in Campus Ministry. Jenney talked about her strong connection to the program, saying, “Providence College’s strong Campus Ministry program is one of the main reasons I decided to commit here. Coming from a Dominican, Catholic elementary, middle, and high school, I knew I wanted to go to somewhere that fostered an atmosphere where I could still explore my own faith while giving me the opportunity to serve others in the process.”
Jenney went on to talk about how Campus Ministry gives students the opportunity to get involved and explore their own personal relationship with God.
She recalls going to the Connections Retreat her freshman year and meeting some of her best friends there. She has since taken on a role as leader and coordinator of the retreats.
She later stated, “Since PC is run by Dominican Friars, the College has provided me with the opportunity to get to know more Catholic priests and given me the opportunity to learn from them. All of the Friars say you will regret if you go through your four years and never get to know at least one of them.”
She talked about some of the amazing and inspirational conversations she has had with Friars during her time at PC.
”They genuinely want to get to know you and help you find your happiness and joy. I always say I have never used the word joy as much as I do as a PC student,”said Jenney.
Jenney was also one of 11 students chosen to go on the International Immersions Trip to Montego Bay, Jamaica, which is run through Campus Ministry.
The group, along with Father Peter Martyr-Yungwirth, O.P., and Dr. Richard Barry of the theology department, worked with over 30 orphaned and disabled children through the Mustard Seed Communities organization.
”We mostly helped with feeding the children and caring for them during their different daily activities. The biggest lesson I took away from this experience was the importance of love and how love can come in many different forms,” she said.
When talking about her past few years at PC, Jenney expressed how appreciative she is for all the programs and events she has been involved with, stating, “Providence College has provided me with so many different experiences in such a short amount of time.“
She later gave advice to fellow students and incoming classes, advising them, “Step out of your comfort zone and learn more about and from the people around you. All of us come from different places, cultures, traditions, and backgrounds. If you find a niche here that makes you feel more at home, that’s great.”
One thing that Jenney has taken away from her time at PC is that she has never felt like she was confined to one group.
She advises everyone to get to know and learn all different kinds of people and ”be kind to your fellow Friars, no matter what differences you have.”
After leaving PC in May 2019, Jenney hopes to someday end homelessness in America.