That the Future May Learn From the Past: Students and Alumni Partake in Reflecting Forward
by Kyle Burgess ’21
This past weekend, the Providence College community had the chance to embrace multicultural and diverse backgrounds in the second-ever Reflecting Forward celebration.
Students, faculty, and alumni took part in three days of festivities, workshops, and other social events, which allowed them to mingle with fellow classmates as well as those from previous Friar generations.
Reflecting Forward began on Friday with the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Convocation in the Peterson Recreation Center.
The afternoon’s keynote speaker, Ndaba Mandela, is the grandson of the famous South African political activist and former president Nelson Mandela who helped bring an end to the rule of apartheid in the country.
Ndaba is the founder of the Africa Rising Foundation which is a non-profit organization committed to aiding in the development of the African continent, along with instilling cultural pride in younger generations of Africans.
The event also recognized the efforts of Dr. Terza Lima-Neves ’00, Jack Murphy ’20, and the Organization of Latin American Students (OLAS) with the MLK vision award which honors those who exemplify the legacy of the late Dr. King.
Following the actual Convocation, organizations including the Board of Multicultural Student Affairs (BMSA) and Stopping Homophobia, Eliminating Prejudice, and Restoring Dignity (SHEPARD) hosted alumni receptions for former and current students to connect and exchange experiences.
Saturday morning included greetings from President Rev. Brian Shanley, O.P., and Reflecting Forward Co-Chairs Duane Bouligny ’94, Andre Owens ’85, and Monica Womack ’91 before a presentation from the Office of Institutional Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (IDEI) about its mission.
Breakout sessions followed, including the second annual panel event Reflecting Forward: The Color of Excellence which detailed the stories of success from PC alumni during their time as students in Friartown and in the working world.
Participants then departed for McPhail’s or the Dunkin’ Donuts Center to watch the Providence Friars take on the Villanova Wildcats in an electric Big East matchup.
Afterwards, they reconvened in ’64 Hall for a night filled with dinner, dancing, and more panels from PC alumni who shared what their PC stories meant to them today. The Reflecting Forward Event concluded on Sunday with interfaith spiritual reflections and a gospel brunch.
For Friars young and old, Reflecting Forward provided them with the opportunity to share and learn from each other how their backgrounds have affected their time both at PC and beyond its gates.
“Reflecting Forward is an event that allows for the values of the college to be represented in the communion between people from all walks of life,” explained Sabrin Mohamednur ’20, vice president of BMSA. “It is a time for the Friar family, past and present, to celebrate the legacies started at this institution. This event allows members of the community to pay homage to the Friars from previous classes.”
For Ricardo Guzman ’20, president of SHEPARD, this event provides an opportunity for voices of current students to be heard by their classmates of all ages.
“Throughout my four years here, diversity, inclusion, and equity has been an important conversation among many groups, but SHEPARD has pushed to be included in those conversations. SHEPARD believes that it is important to create inclusive spaces for LGBTQ* people here on campus, understanding that it is a Catholic institution.“ Guzman added, “We hope that through this event we are able to continue to create more awareness and change at both a student level, and an institutional level by discussing some of the obstacles we have encountered and overcome.”
The success of the weekend’s events will no doubt lead to similar reflection events in the future.