Nicole Patano ’22
One of the first times I was on Providence College’s campus as a prospective student, more than four years ago, then-president of the College, Fr. Brian Shanley, O.P., gave a speech before parents and guardians which has stuck with my mom to this day. She, despite having already been through the college selection process with my two brothers, thankfully had a notebook with her to take notes of what she heard and saw throughout the day. During Fr. Shanley’s speech, she wrote down one phrase, which made its way into my high school graduation speech and my way of life: “It doesn’t matter if you’re diverse if you’re not inclusive.”
This statement was one of the main reasons I committed to PC. Above all else, I did not want to go to a school that flaunted its BIPOC student admissions rates but had blatantly different college experiences for its BIPOC and white students. While I would not consider my high school self an activist, I have always cared very much about my fellow human beings. It makes sense then that I would be looking primarily at Catholic colleges for my undergraduate education.
What many who know me and who are involved in social justice work at the College may ask is: Why PC? It is not untruthful to say that we are not an exemplary example of inclusivity. So did Fr. Shanley lie when he emphasized the need for inclusivity over diversity, suggesting that despite PC’s unimpressive diversity, it is an inclusive campus? I don’t think so. He may have believed that it is, or he may have just been telling parents what they wanted to hear, but I do know that while the College may not be inclusive, it tries to be. It just does not always succeed.
If I have learned anything during my time at the College, it is that there are some things you may think you know, some you may never know, and more still which you wish you did not know. In these instances, I have come face-to-face with my hubris, my curiosity, and my ignorance, respectively. I may never know why I decided to consider PC as an option, and I may curse the very day that I did, but I do owe this institution a great deal. Thinking about how much I have grown since freshman orientation, I could not have imagined being where I am right now: in charge of the entire student newspaper (though not for much longer), preparing to say goodbye to an incredibly loving (and surprisingly large) group of people, and waiting for a documentary featuring an interview with me to be released (any day now!).
As I worked to improve the College during my time as a student, I had the unintended consequence of improving myself. In addition to becoming a better debater and critical thinker, I would like to believe that I am a better person now than I was in Aug. 2018.