Embracing the Entrepreneurial Spirit: PC Students Win Big East Startup Challenge
by Hannah Langley ’21
Each year, students from Providence College and other schools within the Big East Conference are invited to participate in the Big East Startup Challenge, in which students can create teams to propose product ideas to an experienced panel of entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, and Big East alumni.
After competing against 10 other teams, PC students Jacqueline Ryan ’21, Owen Delaney ’22, and Faith Linscott ’21 took home the first-place prize for “UMeal,” an app that allows college students to create their own meal kits at their dining halls based on their preferences. Students can then pick up these kits to make their own meals back in their dorms, suites, apartments, or homes.
Delaney, a finance major and co-president of the entrepreneurship society, began developing UMeal with three other students during last year’s Big East Startup Challenge, but he and his teammates were never able to complete their idea. As Delaney explained, last year’s competition was cut short because of COVID-19, but he partnered with Linscott and Ryan this year to complete the work he and his previous teammates started. “Although my teammates from last year were unable to return,” Delaney explained, “I was lucky enough to be paired with Faith Linscott and Jackie Ryan and we worked great together.”
Linscott, a psychology major, and Ryan, a history major, both have business and innovation minors, which is how they got involved with the challenge. Students with the business and innovation minor at PC are required to take a capstone their senior year in which they use their skill sets to make a mock entrepreneurial business, making this challenge a great fit for Linscott and Ryan. “I loved working on UMeal because I felt like a real entrepreneur,” said Ryan.
Their capstone professor, Dr. Eric Sung, associate professor of photography and director of the minor, recommended the two take on this project with Delaney. Megan A. Chang, assistant professor of voice and diction in the department of theatre, dance, and film; Rebeka Mazzone, a member of the adjunct faculty in finance; Dr. Kathleen A. Cornely, professor of chemistry and biochemistry; and alumni Paul Bachman ’90, Mark Ruggeri ’93, and Christopher Walker ’86 were also involved with the group in various ways.
For the competition, the students developed a prototype for the UMeal app and created a five-minute video about the product, which was then judged by a panel of professionals. With the help of Providence College Television, the group was able to create what they considered to be a fantastic video. “We were extremely lucky to have PCTV join us and help us create an incredible video,” said Delaney. “They took our ideas and script and turned it into a piece of art.”
The team had a great time working on this project together, saying that they learned a lot through the process. “Participating in the competition was fun and educational,” said Linscott. “A key takeaway from the competition is that it takes a cohesive team effort to create a presentation to be proud of; I am happy about all the hard work everybody put in and proud of the result.
Delaney also commented that despite many obstacles along the way, the team was able to persevere. “During the crucial weeks leading up to the competition, me and Jackie both got COVID-19,” he said. “However, we persevered and were able to get a lot done over our Zoom meetings and do some filming on our own in quarantine.”
Delaney also hopes that this competition will inspire others, like himself, who have an interest in entrepreneurship. “I hope that winning this competition inspired other people just like me to continue your passion of entrepreneurship even if it is not what you officially study in school,” he said.
The teammates thanked one another, their faculty advisors, PCTV, alumni mentors, and all others who helped them in the process. “I believe that we were so successful because of the support we received from such passionate people,” said Ryan.
The team hopes that this is not the end for UMeal, and they are excited to see what the future holds for their startup.
Campus Ministry Creates App, Bringing the Church to You
by Sydney Olinger ’23
Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic and nationwide quarantine, people have been staying connected virtually through Zoom calls, social media, and many other virtual platforms. For many of the members of the Providence College community, it has been important to maintain those social relationships not only with our peers, but also with God and the Church.
To help students and faculty remain connected with their faith and more specifically, faith at PC, Campus Ministry released a new app called Providence College TORCH. The app has everything from live-streamed masses to an E-book version of the Bible.
With the app, students and faculty have access to prayers, articles, and uplifting talks with Friars and PC students. TORCH has many ways to keep users connected to their faith, but it also has resources to maintain stable mental health, which is absolutely vital in these times.
On the home screen of TORCH, there are five different tabs: Torch, Breathe, Power Up, Radiate, and Connect. Each one contains information on different topics, whether that be virtual events happening in campus ministry, reflections on Sunday’s gospel, or how to be a good citizen of God in the Providence College community and world.
The Power Up tab has the livestream, information on Peer Ministry, prayers to say on your own or with others in a socially distanced manner, analysis of the gospels, RCIA, and Godsplaining. Church Chat, a section within the RCIA category, is labelled within the app as “An RCIA Talk Show of Sorts”, so if students are not Catholic but still interested in learning more about the faith, this would be the best place to go. Godsplaining is a great place for both lifelong, newly joined, or not-yet-baptized Catholics to delve deep into the readings and mystery of the Catholic faith and learn how it relates to the present day. For students looking for something a little more meditative, the Breathe tab has many articles on how to stay mentally healthy especially during a time when we may feel isolated from the world.
“One of the most threatening things we are facing presently is isolation. In college, it’s natural for people to find themselves at home in this or that group on campus. Campus Ministry, however, has its goal outreach to every PC student. We want every Friar to know that we’re here to support them and offer resources,” stated Father Patrick Briscoe.
Fr. Patrick explains that TORCH users do not need to be a part of Campus Ministry or even to be Catholic to take advantage of all the app has to offer. TORCH will hopefully inspire all members of the PC community to engage with Campus Ministry.
One important part of the app is how it was named. Fr. Patrick elaborates on this, saying, “The name evokes the commitment to enlightenment at the heart of the College’s mission. Fire brings warmth and light in dark, in difficult times. We hope TORCH brings comfort and peace in a time marked by anxiety and suffering.”
Though the app will certainly be beneficial to staying connected to our faith and people both within and outside the PC community during this difficult time, it will continue to be an excellent platform for Campus Ministry and for others to stay involved in the Church.