Former Cowl Editor-in-Chief on Teaching English in South Korea, Connecting With Others, and Hearing Their Stories
by Sara Conway ’21
It had been a long 15 hours for Kerry Torpey ’20. Flying across the world to South Korea in order to teach English—and during a global pandemic, no less—was no joke.
There was the proper paperwork to put together before departing from the United States, then there was the 15-hour flight itself. But one of the last hurdles was the temperature check after landing at Incheon International Airport.
Since her trip was in February, Torpey wore a sweater and her winter coat for the flight. Unfortunately, when mixed with her backpack—which was “15 pounds heavier than it was supposed to” be—dragging her luggage through the airport, and the general stress of traveling overseas during a global health crisis, Torpey’s temperature was just slightly higher than what the authorities at the airport considered acceptable.
Cue her desperate efforts to cool down once she was in another line for those who had not quite made the temperature cut. The backpack was dropped, the coat was shed, and her hair was up. So close and yet so far.
Although Torpey would not leave for South Korea until February 2021, she began the tenuous process of acquiring the proper paperwork for her journey in July 2020. “Everything’s in the context of COVID-19,” Torpey said, detailing that if something was slightly off, you could be sent back to the U.S. before you even stepped outside of Korea’s airport. Plus, before she could board the plane in the U.S., Torpey needed a negative COVID test, so she spent her last month in America self-quarantining. Hence why she “wasn’t able to breathe” until she actually got to South Korea, made it through the airport gates, and was safely quarantining in her room. And although Torpey has been in Seoul teaching for a little more than a month, she said that it did not feel real quite yet.
Currently, Torpey is teaching English in a public school in Seoul, South Korea, where she has 22 different classes of students ranging from grades four through six. She applied for a teaching position through English Program In Korea, a program with the Korea National Institute for International Education, which is under the umbrella of the Korean Ministry of Education. While Torpey’s application was handled by EPIK, her employer is actually the Seoul Metropolitan Office of Education, since EPIK recommends specific applicants to education offices across South Korea that then hire the teachers themselves.
Pursuing a degree in education was on her mind during her time at Providence College, but Torpey was unable to double major in it alongside her English studies. But she remembers Cowl copyeditor Jennifer Dorn ’18, who received a Fulbright Scholarship to teach English in the Czech Republic. That moment in her sophomore year, Torpey notes, is when she really started looking into teaching English internationally. As to why she wanted to teach abroad—and specifically in South Korea—Torpey had a few attachments to the country, one being a high school friend who resides there.
Another was the vast difference between American and Korean culture. “That intrigued me beyond no degree,” Torpey said. She wanted to be in a place where she would have to learn, adapt, and immerse herself, especially with the language hurdle, although Torpey emphasized that Hangul, the alphabetical system that forms the basis of written Korean, is “potentially one of the greatest inventions of all time” (no disagreements there). But this cultural difference simultaneously holds infinite possibilities of exploration and fostering a deeper understanding: “the most human connection you can have with someone is talking about where you come from.”
As an English major, a staff writer, and an editor of the Arts & Entertainment section of The Cowl, and later Editor-in-Chief, these experiences built solid foundations for Torpey to pursue teaching English. She joined The Cowl September of her freshman year and moved up to an editor position by the end of the year, which further developed her “confidence in [her] ability to write, to edit, and [her] grasp of the English language.” While she was too late to double major in education, Torpey did take courses such as Educational Psychology taught by Dr. Kevin O’Connor, which focuses on classroom management and formulating better insight into the kids in your classroom.
She also has been around educators her entire life. Torpey’s grandmother was a teacher; her sister is a teacher; and her aunt is a dean of a law school. In addition, she volunteered in her sister’s second grade classroom for about five years, so Torpey is familiar with the school environment for younger learners.
These experiences also gave Torpey confidence as she prepared for her new role as an English teacher in a new country. She stressed that the schools and their relationship with their native-speaking English teachers are varied, and it depends on where someone ends up. Torpey’s school gives her a fair amount of creative freedom as she structures her lessons around the textbook and adds her own personal touches.
The nucleus of Torpey’s preparation, however, was research. Years of research. She is naturally still learning, but Torpey made sure that she was culturally aware and respectful of Korean customs, many of which are drastically different from those in the United States. Torpey emphasized that it all boils down to respect and understanding what is rude and what is polite, particularly for a culture that is founded on respect and hierarchy such as South Korea. For example, in Korea, one has to give and receive things with two hands.
Torpey is also the youngest teacher in her school, which is a role within itself. Since she is a foreigner, she generally is not expected to know certain customs. However, Torpey’s “effort to learn” demonstrated an awareness and a willingness that deeply respects the country, the history, and the culture of the place in which she now resides.
Language studies was a necessary part of preparations as well. Torpey used online resources including YouTube, a program called Talk to Me in Korean, and various apps. While she was in quarantine in Korea, she took an online class. Currently, Torpey is looking for a course in Korea, noting that she often learns better in a classroom setting.
While she has been studying the Korean language for some time, Torpey does get stressed about speaking. Although it is a persistent hurdle, she is aware that she has to push herself to use the language because “the only way you’re going to get better is if you use it.” In the end, yet again, “it is the effort that counts.” And Torpey does understand more than she gives herself credit, which she acknowledges, recounting, “Sometimes my co-workers will say something to me in Korean, and it’s funny, so I’ll laugh.” Torpey chuckles as she remembers their surprised reactions.
When I asked her about her expectations for South Korea and for teaching, Torpey said she had none. “There’s just so many unknowns that how can you possibly have any expectations?” Torpey muses over how she is usually a planner, but the journey to South Korea, including the 15-hour long flight—and the experience living in the country—has shown her that you can plan all you want, but those same certainties can be uprooted just as quickly. However, despite having no expectations, Torpey again emphasized respect: “take everything with grace and respect for others and yourself.”
This has guided Torpey from the day she landed in Korea and beyond. Now, a month into teaching, she is “grateful” and excited to go to work every day. However, it all “comes back to the students and their willingness and eagerness to learn and how open they are.” The first day was like how most are when they meet someone new. Her students were “a little shy, a little intimidated,” and Torpey remembers that they were a bit “fascinated” by her since Korea is a relatively racially homogenous place.
Despite the differences in age, culture, and experiences, mutual interests bridge Torpey and her students, who call her “Kerry Teacher.” On the first day, she created an introduction PowerPoint and because she mentioned that she played basketball for a while, she now plays with some other teachers on Wednesdays.
This foundation of openness that Torpey set from the beginning is what characterizes her classroom. By being “welcoming and accepting,” she encourages a mutual exchange that then builds an “inclusive and comfortable” space. Although her students do not speak fluent English, “we can still have conversations in which we are making connections with one another over similar interests in sports or movies or music,” Torpey added. In essence, a “human-to-human connection” is created. She gave the example of one of her lesson games called “Stay Alive,” which made learning “I have a cold” a lot more fun for her sixth graders, many of whom like playing video games. The lesson was designed so students can gain a life, lose one, or, if they were physically in class, steal a life as they worked to improve their writing and speaking skills. Listening to her students and taking note of what they like allows her to “find games that cater to their interests,” thus making the process of learning English more engaging for everyone.
While Torpey is the teacher, there is a great deal that she has already learned in her (short) time in South Korea. “We are all such small fish in a big sea,” she reflected, drawing the conversation to her walks through Olympic Park in Seoul, which she often finds many older Koreans strolling through as well. “The oldest generations here either remember the Korean War or grew up in the years that followed, in which the country was in a serious economic struggle as they tried to create a new nation,” Torpey continues. She emphasizes that the “rich history of South Korea can be seen on every corner in Seoul, and it is important not to forget this history when thinking about South Korea, which many now associate with pop culture.”
However, as Torpey notes, “the people who are here have stories from all of those time periods,” from the Korean War to its economic boom. As the time inches closer to 11 p.m. in South Korea, Torpey thoughtfully adds her personal reflection: “It’s made me realize how important it is for all of us to try and broaden our worldviews.” She emphasizes that there are so many stories ready to be told at our fingertips, and “Korea is a country that is incredibly rich with stories.”
Stories are the common thread: “With the pandemic, when you aren’t around people as much, you kind of lose that humanness a little bit and that connection and that closeness with people.” Teaching in a totally new country, while there are numerous challenges, presents a unique opportunity, where there are new stories and new histories to be found.
There is clarity in Torpey’s eyes as she concludes, “While I can’t speak the language very well, I still feel like there’s so much to appreciate here within the culture, within the people and the stories that they have. That’s why it’s important to me to study the language very hard, too. I’m not going to be an expert by the next year, but I want to be able to talk to people and hear their stories.”
One of Torpey’s favorite Korean words is ha-ru, meaning “one day.” Maybe one day Torpey will be able to speak to the people of Korea and hear their stories in their native language. But even now, she is connecting on a fundamental human level as a teacher, learning about the Korean culture, and getting to know her students—the next generations—and their own stories. And that is a start.
Tangents & Tirades
Addressing Period Poverty
Recently, Scotland’s Parliament passed the first stage of the Period Products (Free Provision) (Scotland) Bill. First proposed in 2017 by Scottish Parliament member Monica Lennon, the bill would require the government to ensure that free period products, such as tampons and pads, are available for any woman who needs them. The Scottish government estimates executing such a bill would require about £24 million annually to help women who have a hard time affording period products.
“Period poverty” is a term used, in part, to describe women who do not have the financial means to afford menstrual products. According to a study published by the International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics, over 500 million people across the globe cope with period poverty. In addressing this issue head on, Scotland’s Parliament had a two-hour candid debate about women’s health and the stigmatization of menstruation.
The stigma surrounding periods makes the topic one that is frequently abandoned between men and women. With society constructing this natural process as embarrassing or “unclean,” women are selective about who they discuss their menstrual cycles with and can often be found hiding their menstrual products up their sleeves or inside boots to avoid humiliation.
The need for more open conversation and education about menstruation could potentially lead to more legislation that may help the millions of women around the world who live in period poverty. Although multiple states in the U.S. (excluding Rhode Island), have outlawed taxes on menstrual products, Scotland’s first step towards free period products is a hopeful step for the future here.
—Kerry Torpey ’20
Voting Absentee for Primaries
With the 2020 primary season in full swing, now is the time to apply for your absentee ballot as soon as possible.
In order to begin improving the health of our democracy, voter turnout proves imperative. To that end, participation in your state primary need not be sacrificed merely because you may be out of state during the time of the election.
An application for an absentee ballot can be completed within a matter of minutes at Vote.org—you will simply input your home address and a ballot can be mailed to you here at Providence College or to the location of your preference.
Although Super Tuesday has come to pass, the majority of states have still yet to vote in this highly contested race, with the Rhode Island, New York, Connecticut, and Pennsylvania primaries right around the corner on April 28.
In the meantime, it remains critical to the welfare of our nation that as many college students as possible research the politics of the remaining candidates in the race to fully participate as informed voters in the electoral process.
In turn, within our present electoral structure, casting a ballot in the primary election as an educated voter proves our best means of influencing whether the candidate that promises the brightest future for both the American and global public may be elected as president so that she or he may enact the change we hope to see in the world.
—Alyssa Cohen ’21
Eat Less Meat for the Environment
Students on Providence College’s campus are quite familiar with the idea of skipping meat once a week, since during the Lenten season PC offers no meat options in its dining halls on Fridays. However, there might be another lesser-known and non-religious reason why we should all consider skipping meat for a day: to decrease our impact on the environment.
According to the New York Times, 14.5 percent of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions per year come from the meat and dairy industry—roughly the same amount emitted by the various transportation industries.
This is a massive amount of emissions. However, it actually would not require massive lifestyle changes in order to improve this number. Making a difference does not actually require going vegan or vegetarian, or cutting out meat and animal products entirely. Simply eating less meat and dairy can significantly improve the toll that our eating habits are taking on the environment.
Small and simple diet adjustments can make all the difference, while still leaving room for the occasional cheeseburger. New York Times food writer Melissa Clark suggests an 80-20 strategy: following a diet composed 80 percent of plant-based foods, and 20 percent of meat and dairy.
Achieving this ratio could involve any number of changes, but a good place to start is with protein replacement: including more beans, chickpeas, and high-protein nuts (such as almonds) in your diet. New plant-based meats, like those offered by Beyond Meat—which is now featured at Dunkin’—are another great option if you find tofu unappealing.
Overall, while eating a more plant-based diet might boost your own physical health, it can definitely also help to improve the planet’s health in the process.
—Andrea Traietti ’21
Bowab ’55 Endows Master Class Series to TDF
Alum Donates in Honor of Broadway Star Patricia Morison
by: Kerry Torpey ’20 Editor-in-Chief
During his career, Pawtucket native John Bowab ’55 made his mark on the New York theatre scene, directing and producing several plays both on and off Broadway. After previously donating the John Bowab Studio Theatre in the Smith Center for the Arts, Bowab will be endowing the Patricia Morison Master Class Series, named in honor of his close friend and Broadway actress Patricia ‘Pat’ Morison.
The Patricia Morison Master Class Series will provide funding for the department of Theatre, Dance, and Film to invite professionals who have worked in theatre to share their experiences and advise students who are looking to enter showbusiness.
Bowab says he wants these visitors to be “people who have been exposed.” “I think it’s one thing to have academics, but it’s another thing to have people who have been out there and have experienced what it is to perform and to perform to some sort of acclaim [or] acceptance in the professional world.”
The Patricia Morison Master Class Series is an endowed fund under planned giving in perpetuity, a type of annuity that is everlasting. The donation, therefore, is self-sustaining and will benefit PC students studying theatre for many years to come.
Andrea Krupp Esq., director of planned and estate giving in the Office of Institutional Advancement, says that as alumni age, they often take a second look at estate plans that may not have been revised in a number of years. Often, this is the time when the office receives calls about how someone can leave a gift to PC in their will, trust, or other estate planning vehicle.
“These conversations are about family,” Krupp says. “If alumni contemplate including the College in their wills, they are treating PC as a family member.” As a result, to plan such donations or gifts for the College is to develop a strategy that will take care of both one’s family and his or her lifetime passions. The Patricia Morison Master Class Series, therefore, is a continuation of Bowab’s passion for theatre at PC and will be, as Krupp describes, a major “fiber in the cloth of Providence College.”
In looking to Morison as the crux of the series, Bowab explains, “She just was so articulate and that’s what I’d like to expose the students to…it’s a thing about letting them see somebody who’s been out there and done it.”
Morison and Bowab’s friendship began when he was asked to direct a production of Pal Joey that Morison starred in with Dean Jones. “It was a fabulous production and she was so fabulous,” he explains. “And on the basis of that, we became dinner companions and went to the theater together.”
Bowab says Morison, who was also a talented painter, was very knowledgeable in symphonies and operas. In hearing her expertise, Bowab felt that he “was the one who was getting the education, and it was an education [he] couldn’t have paid for.”
While studying painting at The Art Students League of New York, Morison declined a scholarship offer to go to Paris and continue her studies. Instead, she focused on improving her acting skills at the Neighborhood Playhouse School for Theatre. Eventually, at 19 years old, she became the understudy to Helen Hayes in the 1934 production of Victoria Regina.
Following a lead role in an operetta called The Two Bouquets alongside her future Kiss Me, Kate co-star Alfred Drake, Morison signed a contract with Paramount Pictures in 1938. Despite spending years making films such as Without Love and Dressed to Kill, Bowab explains Morison “never got the roles she wanted, so that was when she decided to go back to New York.”
Upon returning to the Big Apple in 1948, Morison’s life changed forever when Cole Porter, acclaimed songwriter and composer, heard her sing and cast her as the lead role of Lilli Vanessi in the hit Broadway musical Kiss Me, Kate. New York Times reporter Brooks Atkinson describes Morison as “an agile and humorous actress who is not afraid of slapstick and who can sing enchantingly.”
After appearing in both a Broadway and London production of Kiss Me, Kate, Morison starred as Anna Leonowens in the Rodgers and Hammerstein production of The King and I. She was both a part of the touring cast, alongside co-star Yul Brynner, and appeared in the final show for the play’s Broadway closing.
Bowab understands that when he was in college, he would have loved to hear from working professionals like Morison, who worked hard to have successful careers in such a competitive business. Wendy Oliver, chair of the department of theatre, dance, and film, says, “We are delighted to receive this generous donation, and are looking forward to the opportunities it will provide. With this fund, we plan to bring renowned musical theatre artists to campus to work with our students in the Smith Center for the Arts.” On top of the education students receive at the College, the Patricia Morison Master Class Series will equip students with a type of knowledge that, like Bowab and Morison demonstrated, cannot be taught.
“Taking On” the Season of Lent, No Matter Your Religion: Using Lent as a Means of Self-Care and Progress
by Kerry Torpey ’20
This week marked the official start of the Lenten season with Ash Wednesday. As many students walked from class-to-class after receiving their ashes, I overheard several conversations discussing what people should “give up” for Lent.
The concept behind giving something up for Lent, also known as a Lenten sacrifice, traces back to the early days of Christianity. Theologically, the idea is meant to deprive individuals of certain pleasures in order to reorient themselves on a path back towards their faith and God. Common sacrifices I have heard among college students include sweets, soda, swearing, and social media.
Although I find the challenge of giving up coffee for 40 days to definitely be a personal sacrifice, something I feel that gets lost during Lent is the idea that you have to limit yourself to giving up something—it can be just as impactful to “take on” a new positive habit or lifestyle as it is to make a sacrifice.
For example, as college students, we sometimes get so caught up in the hustle and bustle of our day-to-day lives that we forget to stop and take a moment for ourselves to relax. Especially with the stress of midterm season upon us, placing greater value on your mental health with moments of reset and repose will positively impact your well-being.
Take advantage of things like Active Mind’s “Inside Out Week,” which encourages students to “cultivate self-care practices from the inside out.” Clubs like Active Minds provide resources like these year-round on campus, making sure students continue to talk about mental health to end stigmas and promote wellness.
Even though Lent is a religious observance, the benefits of “giving up” or “taking on” habits can be life-changing and fulfilling. You do not have to be Christian or a religious person to take the leap and start taking on a healthier lifestyle, and I encourage anyone in the PC community to consider doing so.
Providence College Welcomes Dr. Mae Jemison: Former NASA Astronaut to Give Commencement Address
by Kerry Torpey ’20 and Katherine Torok ’20
Editor-in-Chief and Associate Editor-in-Chief
On September 12, 1992, NASA astronaut Dr. Mae C. Jemison boarded the space shuttle Endeavour, beginning an eight-day journey during which she and six other crew members would make 127 orbits around the earth. Upon returning to earth and landing at the Kennedy Space Center, Jemison officially became the first woman of color to travel to space. Now, almost 28 years later, Jemison will visit the Providence College community as the speaker at our 102nd Commencement Ceremony.
Born in Decatur, AL to parents Charlie and Dorothy, Jemison developed a love for science, in particular astronomy, from a young age. While growing up and attending school in Chicago, Jemison says her parents, “were the best scientists [she] knew, because they were always asking questions.”
Jemison would spend hours watching and researching NASA’s Apollo missions, seeking to understand their goals, findings, and accomplishments, but she felt frustrated not seeing any female astronauts. Although Sally Ride was the first American woman to travel to space in 1983, Jemison would be the first woman of color. Having grown up watching Nichelle Nichols play Lieutenant Uhura on Star Trek, Jemison saw the potential of representation for women of color in space.
Upon graduating from high school at 16, Jemison attended Stanford University, double majoring in chemical engineering and African and African-American studies. After graduating in 1977, she became a student at Cornell University Medical College, where she obtained her M.D. in 1981. While in medical school, Jemison studied and conducted research in Cuba and worked at a Cambodian refugee camp in Thailand.
After moving to Los Angeles to be a general practitioner for the Los Angeles County Medical Center, Jemison began working with the Peace Corps. Between 1983-85, she served as the Area Peace Corps Medical Officer in Sierra Leone and Liberia. At the age of 27, she was responsible for managing healthcare for Peace Corps volunteers as well as the U.S. Embassy’s medical care.
It was not until 1985, when Jemison was back in the U.S., that she decided to apply to become an astronaut. She says that when she first applied to the Johnson Space Center, she was not considering the fact that she may be the first African-American woman in space. “I wanted to go into space,” she explains. “I couldn’t have cared if there had been one thousand people in space before me or whether there had been none. I wanted to go.”
Despite the devastating explosion of the space shuttle Challenger in 1986, Jemison continued to pursue her dream. Then, on June 4, 1987, Jemison became the first African-American woman admitted to NASA’s astronaut training program. She was one of only 15 chosen out of 2,000 applications.
In preparing to depart for space, Jemison felt it was important to bring things that “represented people who sometimes are not included.” Some examples include: a poster of Judith Jamison performing the dance “Cry,” a Bundu statue to represent a women’s society in West Africa, and a flag for Alpha Kappa Alpha, “the oldest African-American women’s sorority in the United States.”
When she departed as a crew member on Endeavour’s STS-47 Spacelab J mission, which was a collaborative mission between the U.S. and Japan, Jemison served as a science mission specialist. During her eight days in orbit, she conducted experiments on other crew members, testing levels of weightlessness, bone cells, and motion sickness.
“For me,” Jemison says, “the experience was one that made me feel very connected to the universe. I felt my being was as much a part of this universe as any star, as any comet.”
After completing the Endeavour mission, Jemison left NASA in March 1993, but her career had only just begun. In that same year, she founded The Jemison Group Inc., a technology consulting firm that encourages students to be passionate about science while merging sociocultural affairs with space engineering and technology.
Then, as a devoted fan of the original Star Trek series, Jemison fulfilled every fan’s dream in 1993 when she guest- starred as Lieutenant Palmer in an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation, becoming the first real-life astronaut to appear in the series.
In 1994, she started an international science camp for students aged 12 to 16 called “The Earth We Share” as well as a non-profit called the Dorothy Jemison Foundation for Excellence, which she named after her mother.
Jemison has received several honorary doctorate awards and accolades, such as the Ebony Black Achievement Award and a Montgomery Fellowship from Dartmouth College, where she conducted a teaching fellowship. She is also an inductee at the National Women’s Hall of Fame, International Space Hall of Fame, and the National Medical Association Hall of Fame.
She has written multiple books, including her 2001 memoir Find Where the Wind Goes: Moments from My Life as well as several True Book series about different components of space expedition. In 2012, she led the 100 Year Starship program and received funding to enhance research in our ability to travel outside our solar system to another star within the next 100 years.
In 2017, LEGO released a figurine of Jemison as part of the LEGO Women of NASA Kit, which the company hoped would inspire more women in STEM, an initiative Jemison greatly supports. She also fluently speaks English, Russian, Japanese, and Swahili.
In addition to Jemison, six other honorary degree recipients will be recognized at Commencement, including: Val Ackerman, J. Peter Benzie ’70, Sr. Jane M. Gerety, RSM, Dr. Hugh F. Lena III, the late Dr. Francis P. McKay, and Erich Miller.
Val Ackerman is the fifth commissioner of the Big East Conference. Prior, she was an attorney and executive at the NBA, the founding president of the WNBA, and is the former president of USA Basketball. She is a graduate from the University of Virginia where she was a three-time captain and Academic All-American on the women’s basketball team, and received her law degree from UCLA.
J. Peter Benzie ’70 is executive president and global account leader with Broadridge Financial Solutions Inc. Prior to joining Broadridge in 2005, Benzie worked at Prudential Securities, Shearson Lehman Brothers, Chase Investment Services, and Fidelity Investments. He also served on the College’s Board of Trustees from 2009-2018 and served on the executive committee of PC’s campaign, Our Moment: The Next Century Campaign for Providence College.
Sr. Jane M. Gerety, RSM, served as the president of Salve Regina University in Newport, RI for ten years. Before her presidency, she was an executive board officer and senior vice president for sponsorship with Saint Joseph’s Health System. Prior to that, Sr. Gerety taught at universities and high schools across the country. She graduated from Mount Saint Agnes College, earned her master’s degree from Middlebury College, and her Ph.D. from the University of Michigan.
Dr. Hugh F. Lena, III joined PC in 1974 and has held many roles such as professor and chair of the sociology department, associate director of the Feinstein Institute for Public Service, and president of the Faculty Senate. He was instrumental in the College’s decision to form the School of Business, and the School of Arts & Sciences and Professional Studies. He also created the Office of Sponsored Projects and Research Compliance, which brought over $13M worth of grants to the College. He graduated from the University of Notre Dame and earned his master’s degree and doctorate from the University of Connecticut.
The late Dr. Francis P. MacKay, who passed away on September 9, 2019, was part of the PC commnuity for over 50 years. He served as chair of the chemistry department, vice president for academic administration, and president of the Faculty Senate. He was a champion of diversity and helped create the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Scholarship Program and the Francis P. and Jacqueline K. MacKay Scholarship. He was a graduate from the University of Notre Dame, earned his master’s degree from the College of the Holy Cross, and his doctorate from Pennsylvania State University.
Erich Miller is president of My Brother’s Keeper, a local nonprofit which delivers food and furniture to families in need. The ministry boasts 4,000 volunteers, including PC students, who make 9,000 deliveries annually. Miller is a graduate of the University of Notre Dame.
Together, the seven honorary recipients embody the pillars of Fr. Shanley’s presidency: athletics, financial services, religion, service, women in STEM, and the future of PC.
This year’s commencement ceremony for the graduating Class of 2020 will take place at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center in downtown Providence on May 17.
Friartown: A Place Where Everyone Belongs
by Kerry Torpey ’20
This semester, I decided to take Introduction to Sociology with Dr. Eve Veliz-Moran as one of my free electives. The course aims to educate students on how the elements of our society “shape who we are.” By the end of the semester, students will have engaged with topics such as culture, race, and socioeconomic inequality.
One reading that the class recently discussed is called, “Teenage Wasteland: Suburbia’s Dead-End Kids” by Donna Gaines. In 1987, a group of four friends from Bergenfield, New Jersey died from carbon monoxide poisoning after making a suicide pact.
Even after their deaths, townspeople referred to them as “burnouts” or “dropouts” because they did not necessarily fit into the “spaces” their town offered them. They “felt unloved, unwanted, devalued, disregarded, and discarded.” Gaines describes this as “a tragic defeat for young people,” as these high school students experienced a societal neglect so great that they became disengaged from the world around them—this disengagement can best be described as “anomie.”
In class, we talked about how numb and disconnected these students must have felt to think that they truly had nothing more to lose. Something that I really took away from this reading, however, was that a situation like this can happen anywhere where people are made to feel like outsiders.
Providence College has a very active social community that has members from across the country and around the world. Therefore, it is important for our community to continuously remember to check in on one another—to make sure that everyone feels a sense of care, love, and value.
PC has resources like the Personal Counseling Center, which welcomes students with open arms and trustworthy ears. If we are to continue being a “Friar Family,” we must regularly remind ourselves to check in, encourage one another, and lift our community up, no matter our differences.
Fostering Decades of Memory: A Reminder to Appreciate Our PC Experiences
by Kerry Torpey ’20
Over winter break, I had the privilege of participating in the 9th annual PC in Hollywood trip. Alongside my fellow classmates and under the guidance of Father Kenneth Gumbert O.P., Patti Goff, and Paul Calle, we traveled throughout the City of Angels, meeting and networking with several alumni working in all areas of the entertainment industry.
Though we made dozens of connections and memories during the trip, one moment that stood out to me in particular was on our last night in LA when we went to dinner at Ed Cimini’s ’76 home.
After sharing a meal with him and his family, he told us that during his senior year at PC, he was Editor-in-Chief of The Cowl. In the minutes that followed, he took us down memory lane, sharing stories from his experience as Editor-in-Chief.
Hearing Ed reflect on his story reminded me, as many things at PC do, of the rich history of The Cowl that remains both on campus and off.
Any student on campus involved in a club or organization can agree that a majority of your college experience takes place in your office and with your fellow members.
These memories, therefore, are both personal and community-based, which further emphasizes the important and special bond you make during your time with your groups.
For The Cowl in particular, our memories can be found on any newsstands on campus, in the lower level of the Slavin Center on Wednesday evenings, where we write, edit, design layouts, and eat pizza, or in the archives that preserve over 80 years of Cowl content.
As we release the first issue of The Cowl in the new decade, I remind myself of how grateful I am to be a part of our paper’s everlasting impact and history.
Thanksgiving Recess or Thanksgiving Stress? Students Should Use Thanksgiving Break to Refresh Before Finals
by Kerry Torpey ’20
As Thanksgiving break quickly approaches, students and staff are eager to step outside the Providence College bubble to celebrate with friends and family. Whether it be watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade with your siblings or going to the local football game, many of us have our own traditions signifying the start of the holiday season.
For the students who live farther away from Providence, Thanksgiving break is likely their first time going home since the start of the semester. With that being said, it is important for students to have the chance to use this time off to do one thing: take a break.
This year, there is only one week between when we return from Thanksgiving break and finals. The time crunch to prepare for these stressful final papers and exams, therefore, is more limited than in years past. Although it is important not to forget about these upcoming assignments while the campus is gone, I find PC students struggle to take a breather from these many responsibilities.
When I worked in the admissions office this summer, something that often surprised prospective families was how involved practically all PC students are outside the classroom. Whether it be volunteering with Special Olympics, planning social programming events for Hall Council, or filming and editing content for PCTV, PC students put their drive and passion to work in both their academics and extracurriculars.
With constantly packed schedules and the impending stress of finals creeping up on us, it is important now, more than ever, for students to have the opportunity to rest easy over break. While having final exams during the last week of classes allows many students to go home early for Christmas, the overload that may ensue can cause a lot of anxiety and concern for some.
Although there is no problem with getting ahead of the studying game during the break, I encourage students to spend time with friends and family to give yourself a moment of repose before we head into finals season.
Going “Abroad” at Home: International Travel Is Not the Only Way to See the World
by Kerry Torpey ’20
In this week’s Cowl, there is a feature spread on the National College Media Convention, which several editorial staff members attended last weekend.
This year, the convention was held at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in Washington, D.C. For as long as I can remember, I have always wanted to go to D.C. and explore our nation’s capital. To have done so alongside my fellow editors and many other student and professional journalists was an absolute pleasure.
While in D.C., we had the chance to go visit national monuments like the Lincoln Memorial and Washington Monument. Since seeing these unbelievable structures upclose for the first time, I wondered what took me so long to get to D.C.
In spring 2019, I studied abroad in London, England. While there, I got to travel throughout Europe, visiting the Eiffel Tower in Paris and La Sagrada Familia in Barcelona. As wonderous and worthwhile as these adventures were, seeing all that D.C. had to offer reminded me just how much I could experience in my own country.
Especially as college students, the prospect of traveling to distant nations and continents is exciting. For a few, it will be their first time leaving U.S. soil. For many, it is their first time experiencing complete independence, immersing themselves into new languages, cultures, and customs.
Visiting other countries, be it for service, academics, or vacation, allows us to step outside our comfort zones and meet people from different backgrounds than our own. It is important to remember, however, just how diverse the U.S. is—there are people from across the globe of various backgrounds right here at home.
It is an incredible gift to go abroad and see the world outside our bubbles. Going to D.C., however, reminded me just how much there is to see and how many people there are to talk to right here at home. I encourage you to think of this the next time you have an itch to travel somewhere new.
The Purpose of a PC Education: A Call to Action from Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
by Kerry Torpey ’20
While attending Morehouse College, Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., penned an article called “The Purpose of Education” for their student-run newspaper, the Maroon Tiger. “The function of education,” he said, “is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically…Intelligence plus character—that is the goal of true education.”
As students of Providence College, we have the opportunity to engage in challenging discussions, whether it be on United States-Middle East affairs or the current global environmental crisis. What is important, however, is to take these conversations off the page and outside the lecture hall and bring them into action, exchanging in dialogue with one another in person.
A liberal arts education encourages students to question their way of thinking—to look at the world from a new lens, unlike their own. Although we challenge ourselves in the classroom, it is important to appreciate our right to put our thoughts and words into action, to express ourselves in a realm of tolerance and mutual exchange that we create together.
For me, a prime example of this was my DWC colloquium with Dr. Jennifer Illuzzi and Dr. Dana Dillon called “Racism and Theologies of Liberation.” The texts we read and discussed that semester have had a lasting impact not only on me as a student, but as a person. Engaging in those tough but necessary conversations both in seminar and on campus exemplify the postive impact such conversations can have.
With the addition of resources like the Center of Inclusive Excellence at Moore Hall, the PC community has more opportunity than ever to spring into action. Whether you are a professor, student, or staff member, we all have the chance to make the most of it if we push ourselves to step outside our comfort zones and see the world from other perspectives.
By immersing ourselves into such a beloved community, we can continue to build our individual characters, both inside and outside the classroom. Challenging our minds and challenging our hearts: that is a true education.