By: Sydney Olinger ’23
It is well-known by Providence College students and faculty that the College is devoted to building up our community to reach its fullest potential. Encouragement from everyone in our community is especially important during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. There are many ways to be part of support efforts on our campus, but there are also many ways we can try to enact positive change. Caroline Rivera ’21 has been an integral part of enacting change on our campus and hopes to play a similar role in the necessary change for our world.
Rivera is a health policy and management major, Spanish and finance minor, and a student in the Liberal Arts Honors Program. This semester, she made the difficult decision, as a senior with many leadership positions on campus, to study remotely. Though she is working from home, she is making every effort to do her part as a Latina and leader on campus. She is currently a virtual intern at the Programs of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE) Organization of Rhode Island, where she is developing new components of telehealth to improve older-adult care for those of low socioeconomic status. In her future career, she aspires to work as a top health administrator to provide high quality care for the marginalized populations in her community.
Growing up on Long Island, NY, Rivera attended Comsewogue High School in Port Jefferson Station. There, she developed an interest in student government as her class’s vice president for her first three years and student body president by her senior year. As a member of her high school government, she was very involved in planning events, such as dances and fundraisers, but was also a strong believer in volunteering around her local community.
This love for volunteering in the community stood strong as she transitioned to life at PC. She finds that her position as Academic Committee chair on Student Congress is an extended role of her position as student body president in high school, meaning that she still participates in planning events and fundraisers, as well as community outreach, but she is also able to offer representation for students in meetings with school administration.
This year, Rivera has implemented many of her ideas as Academic Committee chair. She has worked with the Continuity Task Force (CTF) committee, creating the One-Stop Providence College webpage where most of the College’s academic resources can be found. Recently, she spearheaded the Core Crunch event with the Academics Committee, where they provide information on the spring semester registration process and academic advising. She emphasized that this year was an especially important time for students—particularly for freshmen and transfer students who have never gone through the registration process—to receive assistance from upperclassmen and advisors through the Core Crunch. According to Rivera, the event was incredibly successful and she hopes that she can continue to be a resource for those in need.
As a member of the Latinx community, Rivera joined the Organization of Latin American Students (OLAS) her freshman year hoping to find people who shared her Latin-American culture and heritage while she was away from home and her family. She recounted that her first year of OLAS was quite different than the empowering club it is now. The club has gone from one that struggled to have weekly meetings because of a lack of dedicated members to consistent meetings with over 20 members, even throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. She worked with other executive members to promote the club, originally as the treasurer and now as the president of OLAS. Rivera describes the club as a family that has grown together to overcome the challenges that the Latinx community faces.
“At meetings, it is empowering to hear other students speak in Spanish without being ridiculed or being told to speak English. We enjoy listening to music without receiving disapproving looks, and we lean on each other when on-campus issues marginalize BIPOC and Spanish-speaking students and faculty,” said Rivera.
Some of her favorite memories come from her time as a resident assistant (RA) in Raymond Hall her sophomore year. She loved becoming acquainted with all of her residents and believes she would not be the person she is today without those experiences. After graduation this spring, she will miss her weekly Congress and OLAS meetings and fellow members, as well as her all-time favorite Take 3 quesadilla and fries.
In her almost four years as a Friar, Rivera has been an integral part of the PC community. The ideas she has implemented and the changes she has made will continue to have positive impacts on our community.
“My favorite part about PC is knowing that my professors and peers want others to succeed. In our community, individuals are not just interested to see themselves do well, they are motivated to empower others in their achievements as well,” stated Rivera.