On Feb. 1, the Providence College Rev. Dr. MLK Series continued following Convocation with a Service Day in Moore Hall dedicated to College Unbound. College Unbound, a non-profit in Providence, provides adults facing societal or economic boundaries with the opportunity to receive higher education.
The PC program included inspirational anecdotes and testimonies from CU alums Jose Rodriguez and Sokeo Ros, who is the director of the Center at Moore Hall. The event closed with the packing of school supplies and handwritten messages of hope to current CU students. The MLK Convocation Committee organized the Series and program, and member Eillen Dignan ran the program.
Rodriguez emotionally testified how in sixth grade he witnessed a violent encounter between adults while waiting for the school bus, and the bus driver saw him at the bus stop but continued to drive. He wondered how an institution leaving him behind would help him out of poverty.
His story provides only one of the many collective stories of CU alumni and students who were never given the opportunity to succeed in school. “Anything is possible given the opportunity,” said Rodriguez. Now, he acts as a re-entry coordinator for CU’s prison education program. He has earned a master’s degree and hopes to then advance to a JD degree.
Rodriguez believed he “was supposed to be in prison for the rest of his life” until he was given the opportunity to do otherwise. Notably, his hard work at CU has allowed each new student to receive a Chromebook as part of their enrollment, according to the CU website.
Crediting most of his success to Dr. Adam Bush, co-founder, provost, and president-elect of CU, Rodriguez proves how sometimes the right community and support can make all the difference. Similarly, Ros credits CU with empowering him through education.
Growing up in a house that was a target for gang violence and with generational trauma from parents who survived genocide, Ros believed that poverty and violence were normal. He failed high school and took summer classes to graduate after missing school for dance, his place of escape and belonging. Then, he failed twice at the Community College of Rhode Island.
Through College Unbound, Ros received his bachelor’s degree and then continued to earn his Master of Education and Urban Teaching at PC. He now stands as the director of the Center at Moore Hall, describing this role with a Dr. Anthony Jack TedTalk quote, “even undreamt dreams come true.”
Echoing MLK’s mission of kindness, strength, and service, Ros expresses, “I am more than poverty. I am more than what you see.”
The day served not only as a reflection of privilege and gave CU much-deserved accreditation, but also gave students and faculty the opportunity to give back to the city of Providence with their time and words of hope to those currently enrolled in CU. In great simplicity and consistency with the Service Day, Rodriguez said, “Anytime when you have the chance to give someone an opportunity, you should.”
The MLK series will continue with a Gala on Feb. 10, Prayer Breakfast on Feb. 15, and MLK Vision Award Presentation on Feb. 15. This year’s recipients of the Vision Award are Rev. Dr. Anderson W. Clary Jr. ’69 and Justin Babu ’23; more information on the recipients can be found on the PC website.