Featured Friars: Members of the Class of 2021
Kyle Burgess ’21
As an unforgettable academic year draws to a close, the class of 2021 begins the bittersweet process of both opening an exciting new chapter in their lives as college graduates and closing the final chapter in their college careers.
While this process is already difficult enough to manage on its own, seniors have also seen their special year overshadowed by the continued frustrations brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic. Many traditions such as the Senior Ring Weekend formal dance and 2021 nights to graduation were scrapped from the schedule as social distancing protocols prevented the possibility for seniors to celebrate themselves and their classmates all together.
However, many seniors have reflected on the past year as a gift which allowed them to spend their final year in Friartown, on campus with their peers.
Such was the case for Kevin Schwalm ’21 as he began his Board of Programmers presidency during one of the strangest years this campus has seen. Schwalm originally found PC through older classmates in high school, and they succeeded in convincing him to tour the school and discover its close-knit community atmosphere; the rest was history.
Schwalm rose through the ranks to become president of BOP this year, and the realities of social distancing required him and other members to think outside the box. “COVID certainly affected the responsibilities [of BOP] because we always had to have back-up plans in case the events had to be changed to a virtual format. It also changed the types of events we held because we had to get creative with our programming since some of the events we traditionally do in person were not possible due to COVID so we had to come up with alternatives the students would still enjoy.”
Despite these setbacks, Schwalm and his fellow “BOP-pers” were able to host a number of events for their classmates to enjoy. Schwalm’s favorite memory from this year was hosting Clam Jam, the first large-scale and in-person event that BOP has hosted since last year’s Black and White Ball. “I found it to be rewarding because it felt as though there was a sense of normalcy after such a bizarre few months with COVID and all the virtual programming,” Schwalm explained.
Other senior leaders have also adapted well to the imposed COVID-19 regulations. Cameron McCauley ’21 served as the president of Campus Ministry this year, having made a connection with Fr. Peter Martyr, O.P., during her freshman year, who encouraged her to apply for a leadership position.
In addition to organizing retreats and meeting information and attending other clubs’ meetings to share announcements, McCauley also met with other Camp Min leaders to gauge the needs of the student body that they could address. Much of these responsibilities became virtual this year, as interactions with other student leaders were difficult to have in person.
However, McCauley described the joy she felt in being able to lead Campus Ministry this year despite the virtual makeover. “The most rewarding aspect of this year was at the very end of my position; we had a close-out celebration for CML and the lower classmen gave the seniors affirmations and graduation cords,” she explained. “Hearing that our leaders had a great year and were excited for what’s to come granted me some peace because the year had been so challenging, and it was comforting to know they felt supported and still enjoyed their ministries despite the circumstances.”
Many other seniors have also come to embrace the unexpected over the past year. As Tim Sears ’21 explained, much of his work as the president of Friars Club was atypical from what members usually experienced in other years. Sears credits his father’s influence as a Friar alumnus as well as the Friars Club member who gave him his prospective student tours as leading factors in his own enrollment, with the tour guide in particular inspiring him to join Friars Club, as well.
While such tours have become a staple for Friars Club members, many events for prospective students, alumni, and current students that required their assistance went virtual this year. This gave Sears time to create an inclusive atmosphere within the organization, as well as to look inwardly at his responsibilities. “We tried to give the club a lot of opportunities to connect virtually, and that was definitely needed to keep the club. Representing over 80 members, I knew that I needed to grow myself and do everything I could to correctly lead them. Focusing inward on myself allowed me to think about a lot of important things I had not thought about before, and it allowed me to grow in essential areas of my life.”
Fellow Friars Club member Sean King ’21 echoed Sears’s appreciation for the ability to make an impact on campus. “Certainly it feels weird walking around campus with masks and there not being as many students out and about,” he admitted, “however that spirit does truly still exist. I can still hear ‘GO FRIARS’ passing McDermott Hall, all the funny jokes they say to mess with us when by Ray, all of that community is still present. COVID has taken a lot from the “normal experiences” this year, but the same Friar Family is still there.”
This strong sense of Friar Family has also propelled students to continue supporting PC Athletics despite the inability for them to attend many events this year. “Once COVID struck, we were no longer able to attend games, and promotional events were put on pause,” explained Ashlyn Hovan ’21, head of social media for Friar Fanatics. “This put a big damper on the club because Friar Fanatics revolves around student body interaction and in-person sporting events. With that said, Friar Fanatics and Friar fans alike are some of the most dedicated, passionate, and supportive fans that I have seen during my four years; the Friartown energy in the student section during any sporting event is so infectious and is something that I will miss the most from Friar Fanatics.”
Although the past year has been far from what the class of 2021 expected their senior year would be when they first entered PC’s gates, the strong sense of Friar Family that has remained consistent has helped them make the most of their last few days as Providence College students.
Keeping the Coasts Clear: PC Student Helps in Fight Against Pollution
by Kyle Burgess ’21
As the old adage goes, “If you do what you love, you’ll never work a day in your life.” For Providence College students like Charles “Fred” Manoog ’23, this phrase was more than just a job-hunting cliché. Instead, Manoog decided to make the most out of his passion by turning it into a business opportunity.
Manoog first discovered PC through his uncle who himself is a PC alumnus. During the college applications process, his uncle insisted that he include Providence College on his list despite Manoog’s uncertainty about it. However, all he needed was one visit to know for sure that he was in the right place.
“When I toured it was a beautiful day and all the students were outside hanging out, it gave off a great vibe that I knew I wanted to be a part of,” Manoog explained. “I then decided to apply early decision and got in, I love it so much here.”
In addition to spending time with his friends at PC, one of Manoog’s other strong passions is his love for the ocean. In addition to surfing, Manoog spends his summers as a lifeguard back home. While working as a lifeguard in Cape Cod with his cousin and best friend, he witnessed large amounts of trash washing up on the beach. This did not sit well with Manoog who, along with his cousin and friend, decided to do something about preventing further pollution.
Together, the three young men formed Sweeping Tides. Sweeping Tides is an apparel company that specializes in surf apparel with 5% of purchases going towards Oceana, the largest international advocacy organization dedicated to ocean conservation.
“I have been affiliated with it since the beginning since I am one of the co-founders,” Manoog said. “It has been a great experience for me to watch a business grow.”
The end goal for the founders of Sweeping Tides is to expand their catalog of items for potential buyers in the near future. They hope to eventually sell hard-goods like surfboards and wetsuits. Should that not work out as planned, then they are just as satisfied to continue their apparel brand and gain greater community involvement in the conservation effort.
For Manoog and his fellow co-founders, profit was never a priority as much as bringing attention to the fight to keep oceans clean. “We are all surfers so we are very passionate about the ocean and taking care of it. We wanted to start a way to help keep it clean.”
Following graduation from PC, Manoog sees himself moving to the coast or Hawaii, working for either a large surf company or an ocean conservation brand. For now, however, he is thankful to combine his passion for the ocean with a platform that enables him to work in the field he loves so much.
COVID Campus Updates
by Kyle Burgess ’21
With the arrival of spring comes a renewed sense of hope and excitement in the Friar community. On March 6, a school-wide email from Dean and Vice President of Student Affairs Steven Sears announced that a gradual return to normalcy would be coming in the next few weeks. Some of the major changes that the email highlighted were outdoor and in-person meetings for clubs, the re-opening of club offices and McPhail’s for seniors who are 21 and older, and even hosting school-wide events like a spring concert and Clam Jam.
Another ground-breaking change that students can expect this semester is the ability to remain on campus during Easter break. Typically, such privileges are allotted to student athletes or students who need to travel great distances to return home, but this option has now been offered to all students who wish to remain on campus. Meals will continue to be provided on campus for such students and facilities such as Concannon Fitness Center will remain open for their use as well. Additionally, Friars who stay on campus are welcome to attend Triduum liturgies and take part in Easter festivities. Regular testing and social-distancing protocols will remain in effect during this time.
For those students who plan on leaving campus, the College has asked that they share their break plans via the Google form linked in the recent Continuity email regarding Easter break. The College has also encouraged students traveling to limit contact with others over break for the safety of their roommates and the larger PC community.
Lastly, the College has shared their intentions of holding an in-person commencement ceremony for the class of 2021. While this ceremony will not take place at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center, the traditional ceremony site for graduating Friars, an alternative location is to be revealed at some point. Such developments are in line with previous statements made by commencement ceremony planners on Facebook and elsewhere as the College anticipates celebrating the hard work and achievements of both the classes of 2020 and 2021.
Featured Friar: Abby Kiernan ’21
by Kyle Burgess ’21
As the world acknowledges the one-year anniversary of a life in lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many have considered the past 12 months as a time for isolation and removal from group settings to ensure the safety of others. However, social-distancing measures have not prevented many members of the Providence College community from continuing to make impacts on the lives of others around them. Such is the case for Abby Kiernan ’21, who strives to make a positive impact both on the children she educates as a student teacher and on her residents as head resident assistant of Meagher Hall.
Kiernan’s path to PC began when she was in high school in Brockton, MA. As a member of her school’s choir, she became friendly with the choir director, a PC alumnus, who suggested that Friartown would be a perfect fit for her. “My freshman year, [my] choir director said to me, ‘You are definitely a future Friar,’” Kiernan explained. “As senior year approached, I decided to apply to Providence because I knew how excited Mr. Cunningham would be to write a recommendation.” One campus tour on accepted students’ day was all it took to convince Kiernan that her choir director was right all along.
In the years since her first visit to PC, Kiernan has kept herself busy between her involvement in the Office of Residence Life and student teaching. In particular, the challenges that COVID-19 restrictions have presented for resident assistants on campus has been a real learning curve. “Everything I learned last year about being an RA I had to relearn during the pandemic in a more demanding and higher leadership position as an HRA,” she said. “Not only do I support the community on my floor, but also amongst my staff and the entire Residence Life staff. Because of the many COVID-19 guidelines and policies at Providence College this year, I have had to learn many different ways to build community but also to support my residents in these difficult times.”
Despite this, Kiernan embraced her new role with open arms and feels that her student teaching background has certainly helped her adjust. “Because of my teaching background, I am usually pretty good with names and love to stop and chat in the hallway. Being there for others and filling others’ buckets are what makes my heart happy!”
Kiernan is also thankful for the opportunity to attain her dream of becoming a teacher despite the new challenging classroom environments created by the pandemic. Following in her mother’s footsteps, becoming a teacher has been Kiernan’s goal since she was young. She believes that teaching in person and virtually for students at school while studying remotely has demonstrated the importance of being resilient and being able to think on her feet. “Not only have I been dealing with being a college senior during a pandemic, but I have also been supporting a diverse group of elementary-age students with many different needs during this time. Student teaching is a time for me to learn how to take over and manage a classroom with the help of my supervisor and cooperating teacher. This experience has been unique in the fact that all of us are learning how to teach during the pandemic.”
Looking ahead beyond graduation in May, Kiernan will work as a graduate assistant while pursuing a master’s degree in urban teaching. She hopes to eventually return to her hometown to work within the Brockton public school system as a teacher and potentially work in Boston afterwards. No matter where Kiernan’s career takes her, she will always be thankful for the opportunity to change the lives of others while at PC, even from six feet away.
Taking the Road Less Traveled: How to Create Your Own Major 101
by Kyle Burgess ’21
It is often said that college is a time for self-discovery and self-expression. Here at Providence College, students are actively encouraged to take classes that they find fascinating and to join clubs and organizations that pique their interests. Students may even elect to create their own clubs to share their unique passions if they so choose, with organizations such as chess club and FriarsFor______ being some of the latest successful additions to extracurricular activities on campus.
But what about students who wish to apply the same creativity to designing their own major? Is there hope that their efforts can meet the same success as these new clubs? In the case of Eliana DaCunha ’22, the answer is a resounding “yes.” Originally from Fairhaven, MA, DaCunha first became familiar with Friartown through several of her high school peers who attended the College and encouraged her to apply. She also realized that her application to the school would be considered for the Roddy Scholarship, a merit scholarship that covers the tuition, room, and board for a first-year student aspiring to enter the medical profession like herself.
DaCunha explains that it has long been her dream to become a physician. “My mom is a primary care physician and my dad is a chiropractic physician, so I’ve been surrounded by the healthcare profession my entire life,” she said. “They’ve never pushed me to enter the medical field, but they’ve definitely inspired me to. Hearing about all the people they’ve helped in our local community always makes me so proud of them.”
Arriving at PC as a biology major, DaCunha began thinking of ways to combine her passions for medicine and world issues, creating a distinct individualized global health major to supplement her biology major. She was encouraged after learning that former PC men’s basketball point guard Kyron Cartwright ’18 had taken a similar path during his time at PC, creating an individualized sports media major.
“I was so happy to learn that PC had this kind of individualized major program because I believe allowing students to take charge of their own educational path is so important,” DaCunha stated. “I’ve always wanted to learn more about global health, but because this field is so broad, I knew I would need to take courses in health policy, global studies, sociology, and political science to truly acquire a better knowledge of it.”
With the assistance of academic advisors, such as Dr. Tuba Agartan and Dr. Deborah Levine of the health policy and management department and director of academic advising Peter Palumbo, DaCunha’s proposal received the green light from Father Mark Nowel, O.P., assistant to the provost and associate professor of biology.
However, DaCunha admitted that the process for approval was not as seamless as it sounds because of the COVID-19 pandemic. “Because everyone was transitioning to online learning, it was often very difficult to get in touch with the professors; the approval of my major was, of course, not urgent in the context of COVID, but because it was not approved, I couldn’t pre-register for classes. However, by the summer, I was able to finally acquire all the signatures I needed to forward my proposal to Fr. Nowel’s Committee on Studies and by the fall, my major was approved. I’m really glad I stuck with it.”
When asked for any advice she could share with PC students potentially looking to create their own majors, DaCunha reiterated that patience is a virtue during this lengthy process. “It requires a lot of time and effort, but having a major tailored to your specific wants and needs is so worth it.” She also recommended that students looking to pursue their own individualized majors should reach out to Palumbo for guidance in creating a major of their design.
Making a Worthwhile Investment: PC Provides Grants for COVID-19 Research
by Sydney Olinger ’23 and Kyle Burgess ’21
Nearly a year after the first string of international lockdowns due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the race to find the most effective and obtainable vaccine for the novel coronavirus continues to heat up. Major pharmaceutical giants such as Pfizer, AstraZeneca, and Moderna have each developed their own respective vaccines and have seen their wares distributed across the United States and Europe. Although the finish line for herd immunity appears to be in sight, much work remains in helping to understand the medical, economic, and social consequences of this historic moment.
Here at Providence College, five faculty members have taken it upon themselves to assist in answering these questions with their own research projects. Each of them has received short-term research grants from the College’s Office of Sponsored Projects and Research Compliance totaling $10,000 in funding with support from the Rhode Island IDeA Network of Biomedical Research Excellence.
Dr. Kris Monahan, director of SPaRC, explained how PC wanted to provide an opportunity for both faculty and students to make the most out of the current situation in conducting research.
“A strategic decision was made in consultation with the SPaRC advisory committee that the best way to support faculty scholarly work this year was to provide direct support to faculty who wanted to work with students to explore, understand, and develop solutions related to the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Monahan. “While we don’t expect to be positioned to always make direct grants, we are pleased that we were able to fund these pilot projects.”
Some of their findings have already begun making headlines in the battle to contain the virus’s spread. Father Nicanor Austriaco, O.P., of the biology department, for example, has been spending his sabbatical leave at the University of Santo Tomas in the Philippines developing a yeast-based COVID-19 vaccine. He was inspired by the plight of many Filipinos who were unable to obtain Western vaccines due to their socioeconomic status. Unlike the vaccines produced by many leading pharmaceutical companies, Fr. Austriaco’s vaccine would not need to be stored at lower temperatures and could be dispersed at little to no cost for potential recipients. “The poor are [the] beloved of the Lord,” he explained. “We should make COVID-19 vaccines available to them at no cost. This is both the ethical thing to do, because we should provide for those in need, and the scientific thing to do, because the poor often live in densely populated areas that tend to harbor the virus.”
Meanwhile, Dr. Fang Dong, associate professor of economics, is hoping to comprehend the economic fallout from the pandemic. More specifically, she aims to discover the interrelatedness between unemployment rates, COVID-19 cases, and stringency/movement restrictions indexes. With the College’s financial backing, Dong has been able to hire two research assistants from the economics department to collect data across the globe on variables such as gross domestic product and unemployment in 2020. “There are so many colleagues who had already been or are also working either solely or collaboratively on COVID-related research projects and I am just lucky to receive the grant,” she explained.
For some communities, the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic have only compounded previous natural and economic disasters. Dr. Jessica Mulligan of the health policy and management department, along with the help of five student researchers, is looking at the experiences of healthcare workers in Puerto Rico as the island continues to reel from the effects of Hurricane Maria, which hit in 2017. The team aims to identify the ethics of care styles circulating among healthcare workers during COVID-19, develop dialogues with healthcare workers working after what they call “compounding disasters,” and establish policy recommendations to improve working conditions within the U.S. territory.
Elementary and special education professors Dr. Marci Zipke and Dr. Lori Dunn are using the College’s generous financial grant to investigate how pre-service teachers can best prepare themselves and their students for learning during the pandemic. “We have administered a survey to the undergraduate pre-service teachers who took methods courses last semester in order to explore best practices,” said Zipke. “We suspect that a combination of synchronous meetings and asynchronous assignments, with flexibility and judicious use of technological tools is most effective for course work, and that virtual field experiences have clear benefits in terms of the students’ perception of their preparedness for teaching, but we are still analyzing the data and holding focus groups.” Both Zipke and Dunn believe that their research will help teachers learn which course designs, technological tools, and field component formats will work best in the virtual classroom as social-distancing measures continue to keep schools closed.
With the help of these grants, the Friar Family is beginning to unravel some of the complex and multifaceted consequences caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Celebrating the Heritage Behind Black History: PC Extends its Usual MLK Convocation Week to a Whole Month
by Kyle Burgess ’21
The Providence College community is celebrating its fourth annual Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Convocation in February to commemorate Black History Month. Due to the continued restrictions brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, some of this year’s events were held in a virtual format, but the College’s determination to recognize the contributions and sacrifices of Black people to the American dream remained unchanged.
While the addition of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Convocation Month to the school calendar is a novel development in PC history, the origins of Black History Month are over a century old. In 1915, American historian and journalist Carter G. Woodson established the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History, now called the Association for the Study of African American Life and History, as he looked to bring attention to the Black migration from the South following the end of the Civil War. Nine years later, Woodson and his fellow members of Omega Psi Phi, a historically African-American fraternity, created Negro History and Literature Week (later shortened to Negro Achievement Week). Woodson would introduce the ASALH to Negro History Week in 1926, and it soon enjoyed success in many schools across the nation.
The impact of Negro History Week on American society was hard-felt. The appearance of Negro history clubs on many school campuses was commonplace, and mayors of predominantly Black cities and towns began making Negro History Week proclamations each year. In 1937, Woodson began the tradition of choosing a unique theme for each year’s celebrations. This tradition continues to this day with the theme for 2021 being “Black Family: Representation, Identity, and Diversity.”
In the decades following the establishment of Negro History Week, many young Black intellectuals began invigorating other Black Americans to take pride in their history, leading to increased popularity of the celebration. This growing interest in the holiday escalated in the wake of the civil rights movement, with President Gerald Ford publicly calling for all Americans to observe a month dedicated to Black history in the United States in 1976. As America celebrated its bicentennial anniversary of independence, Ford reminded Americans that “freedom and the recognition of individual rights are what our revolution was all about…Yet it took many years before these ideals became a reality for Black citizens.” Such a celebration, he argued, would provide the nation with “the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of Black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history.”
Today, the College honors the accomplishments of Black Americans through a variety of talks and social events, such as a cultural paint night with musical entertainment and food, an MLK prayer vigil, and a day of service in the local Providence community. “The commemoration has been a success, since in just a few years, certain events that have impacted the campus community have become anticipated annual occurrences,” explained Quincy Bevely, assistant vice president of institutional diversity. “The success in the celebration lies in the recognition and knowledge that is shared throughout the community. It has been seen in the past through the attendance of students and faculty, the participation of members in our community, as well as the creativity that students bring to life.”
Bevely was also delighted by the turnout for the keynote virtual talk with former NBA star Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, noting that his themes of unity and working towards a community of love were in line with the teachings of King and other civil rights activists. Bevely explained that there is potential for future online events, as eliminating the obstacles that travel presents will allow for the College to invite speakers from across the globe.
Ultimately, the best way for students and faculty at PC to participate in commemorating Black History Month, Bevely says, is to just participate. “Come as you are, seek to celebrate, seek to learn, seek to engage. Black history may be honored in one month, but it can be celebrated daily in our choices to continuously educate ourselves and make ourselves available to the celebrations around us. If attending events during Black History Month doesn’t align for you, then seek ways to be present in your residence halls, classrooms, and student spaces. Commemorating Black history is a significant way to honor the past of Black folks as it intertwines with the present-day efforts and changes of Black lives.”
Although Black History Month is quickly drawing to a close, it is never too late for Friars to continue educating themselves on Black history.
Milestone Moment for PC Landmark: St. Dom’s Celebrates 20-Year Anniversary
by Kyle Burgess ’21
Providence College President Father Kenneth Sicard, O.P., celebrated a special Mass on Feb. 2 as one of PC’s most iconic landmarks celebrated its 20th anniversary. St. Dominic Chapel, more commonly referred to as St. Dom’s by members of the PC community, has quickly become ingrained in the college experiences of many PC students since being erected in 2001. Over the years, the chapel has hosted many milestone occasions and other events, from the popular “Last Chance Masses” on Sunday nights and subsequent post-Mass bash socials, to senior ring blessings, and even confirmations and weddings for alumni.
St. Dom’s also serves as headquarters for the many social and spiritual activities that Friars partake in during their time on campus. Programs such as Habitat for Humanity and Faithworks allow students to become involved in serving the local Providence community. Other programs such as Campus Ministry’s many student retreats are unique opportunities for classmates to connect with one another about their college experiences while also strengthening their Catholic faith together.
“Campus Ministry allows students to grow in faith and work toward building the Beloved Community here at PC,” explained Cam McCauley ’21. “It’s a continuing and collaborative process.” McCauley currently serves as the president of Campus Ministry, having first been introduced to the organization during her freshman year through Habitat for Humanity. She went on to join the club in a leadership role as an English as a second language student minister during her junior year, combining her Spanish major and passion for her faith to help serve others.
McCauley considers this ability to give back to the PC community and Providence community at large as the most rewarding aspect of joining Campus Ministry. “I’m very grateful for the Camp Min community and the experiences I’ve shared with them, but the most rewarding part has been serving others in the community and around campus. I love collaborating with other clubs and meeting new students as well as offering opportunities that serve our brothers and sisters in the community.”
She is also thankful for St. Dom’s Chapel, as it has served as an important resource to her during her spiritual journey at PC. “My favorite memories at St. Dom’s include 10 [p.m.] Mass and Adoration over the years,” said McCauley. “I’ve had a lot of special moments at Mass and Adoration and am very grateful to have the chapel as a safe place on campus.”
Other members of Campus Ministry share McCauley’s appreciation for both the faith community that calls St. Dom’s home and the opportunity to serve others. Father Peter Martyr Yungwirth, O.P., first arrived at PC in January 2015 before becoming the school’s head chaplain and director of Campus Ministry a year later. “As the chaplain, I oversee the liturgical life of the campus as well as work on a number of different committees, many of which are with Student Affairs,” he explained. “There is always a chaplain on-call, 24/7/365. So along with the associate and assistant chaplains, we always make sure to have someone available in case of an emergency.”
Additionally, Fr. Yungwirth oversees both the Campus Ministry staff and Campus Ministry Leadership in the various things that they do, including Peer Ministry, retreats, local and global service, faith formation, and worship. “It’s a blessing to work with so many amazing staff and student leaders,” he added.
Similar to McCauley, Fr. Yungwirth has taken great pride in helping others both in building their faith and their relationships with one another. “The most rewarding aspect of being a part of Camp Min is the connection to a community, both divine and human. Camp Min offers so many opportunities to grow in friends and communion with God, and that’s its ultimate goal. At the same time, often we are drawn to God by others, and so the community of friends that we establish on Earth has a dignity and importance that finds its own purpose in building up that communion between all of us and God.”
For Fr. Yungwirth, St. Dom’s is a place where students can further strengthen the bonds between each other and with God. “I’ve loved being able to sit with students in different meetings or in the confessional and help them to see how the Lord is speaking to them in their lives. It’s such a blessing to see God’s grace actively at work in so many students,” he stated.
For those hoping to get involved with Campus Ministry this semester, be sure to look out for their table at the Involvement Fair on Saturday, Feb. 13. Campus Ministry will also be hosting a variety of different events around Mardi Gras, Ash Wednesday, and St. Patrick’s Day; a memorial wall for those who died of COVID-19; a week to remember persecuted Christians in Iraq; and the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults Mass on Sunday, April 25.
B(ring)ing Down the Senior Year Curtain: Class of 2021 Celebrates Senior Ring Weekend
By: Kyle Burgess ’21
On Sunday, Oct. 25, members of the Providence College Class of 2021 commemorated their time in Friartown with a celebratory Senior Ring Weekend (SRW) Mass at St. Dominic Chapel. This year’s celebrations took on a unique approach as the 130 masked seniors in attendance remained socially distant in their pews, but came together in faith and in their shared memories as a class.
The planning for this year’s celebrations had been nearly two years in the making until COVID-19 put a damper on some of the weekend’s festivities, including a formal dance for the Class of 2021 hosted at Twin Rivers Casino. However, the members of the 2021 SRW planning core were determined to keep one of the College’s long-standing traditions alive despite the current circumstances.
“It was definitely a challenge adjusting our plan for SRW to be in compliance with COVID restrictions,” explained Brianna Waldmann ’21, one of the core’s Mass and reception co-chairs. “However, Father Peter Martyr was incredibly helpful in creating the logistics for this Mass.”
Along with Father Peter Martyr, O.P.’s assistance, the team developed a seating chart that allowed pods of students to be seated together while also maintaining adequate distance between other pods. These pods were also filtered into the chapel using a system of traffic cones that helped to prevent crowding at the entrance. “Additionally, we had many amazing senior ushers and greeters who assisted with Mass, contact tracing requirements, and cleaning the pews of the Chapel after Mass to ensure the utmost safety,” Waldmann explained.
For Waldmann, the ability to help in the planning and preservation of this cherished tradition was an opportunity she could not pass up. “I wanted to be a part of creating such a fun weekend for the Class of 2021, and specifically wanted to serve as the Mass and reception co-chair,” said Waldmann. “I believe the SRW Mass is such a beautiful end to SRW weekend allowing our class to join in communion with one another and have our class rings blessed together. I wanted to help create an opportunity for us to join together once again as seniors.”
The rings, despite their variety of shapes, colors, and sizes, share several images reflecting the Class of 2021’s PC experience. Iconic locations such as the school’s front gates that greeted seniors during orientation three years ago, Harkins Hall, the Arthur F. and Patricia Ryan Center for Business Studies, and St. Dominic Chapel are engraved into the rings.
Dogwood trees, which are found on campus and blossom into a beautiful collage of colors each spring, are also present on the class’s rings to remind students that the heart of the Friar Family will always remain at PC, even if friendships fade away like the dogwood’s leaves in fall.
The Friar logo stands as an acknowledgement of the immense school pride that each Friar carries with them and unites the Friartown community at large. The phases of the moon from August 2017 and May 2021 complete the ring story, embodying the complete journey that this year’s seniors have taken together.
Although students were unable to come together as a class in a formal ceremony reception due to the COVID-19 protocol measures, the SRW planning core remains optimistic that the class of 2021 will have special events in the future, with the group allocating its remaining budget to senior events during the spring semester.
However, the Mass itself represented a unique opportunity for seniors to celebrate how far they have come as a class. As Waldmann put it, “Having our class rings blessed as a community of PC seniors is such an incredible way for us to recognize God’s graces in our time at PC and all that will come as we transition to a new stage in our lives post-graduation.” Despite the absence of many traditional aspects from the weekend’s itinerary, the class of 2021 remains grateful they were able to come together in recognition of their accomplishments and share in their excitement for what the future has in store.
Featured Friar: Caitlin Gleeson ’22
by Kyle Burgess ’21
As the country grappled with the rapid increase of COVID-19 cases this summer, many Providence College students saw their internships and other extracurricular opportunities either replaced with remote experiences or canceled altogether.
This was the reality that Caitlin Gleeson ’22 faced when she saw her internship with a non-profit organization in Boston terminated due to concerns with the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the Beverly, MA native decided to take up her grandmother’s offer of a potential internship with the Haven from Hunger food pantry in June. “My grandmother had been president of the organization, and she is still friendly with the current director,” Gleeson explained. “Everything happens for a reason.”
Haven from Hunger merged with Citizens Inn, Inc. in July 2017 to combat hunger and homelessness in the communities of Peabody, Salem, and Lynnfield, MA. Gleeson’s role within the Haven from Hunger food pantry revolved primarily around clerical work as part of her “internship” experience. The pantry was responsible for feeding between 150-170 people a day (70 pounds of food daily), and it was her responsibility to ensure that meals and groceries were sent to the right people.
In addition to working with the United Parcel Service (UPS) in coordinating deliveries, keeping track of food recipients across the three towns, and recording food temperatures and production numbers, Gleeson often got involved on the front lines in her spare time.
Alongside her “Haven family” of fellow volunteers, she would often travel to the many schools, libraries, and mobile parks that hosted distribution centers for 2,500 sandwiches and groceries weekly. “We were a very tight-knit group,” Gleeson stated, “and we still check on each other today to catch up.” Gleeson also frequently stayed at the pantry after her 7 a.m.–3 p.m. shift ended to assist with their dinner services.
The pantry offered a diverse family environment that was highlighted by the community coming together to share in a meal, albeit more spaced out than in previous years as a result of social distancing guidelines. Gleeson’s time at Haven from Hunger also inspired her to pursue a Smith Fellowship position, which allows students to work with schools in Australia during this upcoming summer.
Back on campus, Gleeson likes to keep involved with the members of her Friar Family as well. As a prayer minister within Campus Ministry and Leadership, she is tasked with praying for all of the organization’s members as well as fostering a campus environment conducive to growth in prayer. Her participation in the “mercy chaplet” is an example of such efforts as she leads PC students together in prayer via Zoom.
Gleeson also bonds with her classmates on stage as a member of the PC Dance Club and with her co-workers at the Concannon Fitness Center.
Upon graduating from PC, Gleeson hopes to continue working with a not-for-profit organization before eventually transferring to the field of immigration. She cites Dr. Rick Battistoni’s philanthropy class that she is currently taking along with her experience at Haven from Hunger as major influences in her decision to dedicate herself to social justice.
When asked about how students can make equally-large impacts during their time at PC, Gleeson said that getting involved is the first crucial step.
“It’s really important to find one thing that you are passionate about,” she explained. “For me, it was Campus Ministry; I’ve met some of my closest friends through that program, but there are plenty of opportunities to make one that you are passionate about. New organizations like Friars For _____ and Friars Vote are examples of students who have done this and have been successful.”
Despite the uncertainty of the last several months, Gleeson’s internship experience and involvement on campus are a testament to how Friars continue to make positive impacts on their communities and rise to the present challenges.