Featured Friar: Michael Splann
by Samantha Oakley ’20
Many of the staples of being a part of the Providence College community include events put on by the Board of Programmers (BOP). BOP is responsible for many of the student run events on campus, generating a sense of community for all Friars, while inspiring fun and gearing actives to spark everybody’s interests.
This year, BOP’s president is Troy, New York native, Michael Splann ’19.
Splann entered PC undeclared, and then went on to become a management major. In addition to this, he became more interested in theology through taking Development of Western Civilization (DWC). During his sophomore year, he became a double major.
When asked what made him decide to join BOP, he answered by saying, “I didn’t know much about BOP freshman year until I attended their coffeehouse. I was immediately excited about the opportunity to plan events for the student body because I had worked a lot of jobs that involved event planning in high school.”
BOP has many different committees that people can join. Splann is part of the Entertainment Committee.
“I had owned my own entertainment company in high school. Music is a huge passion of mine, so I loved the idea of planning events like the Spring Concert and had many ideas about how to incorporate music into other events here on campus,” said Splann.
Additionally, Splann went on to discuss his greatest experience since joining BOP: ”building up PC’s The Voice, which was the event I first conceptualized on my BOP application.”
He continued, saying, “It has been so humbling to see how well the student body has received The Voice over the past couple of years. Seeing students come together because of music and cheering on their fellow Friars is a great feeling and reaffirms everything I love about BOP.”
Following this, Splann was asked to comment on members of BOP that inspired him in a profound way, prior to his senior year.
“It is hard to name just one inspiration of mine, but I was inspired so much by the entire exec board that selected my freshman year new board: Taralynn Vecchio, Dan Pupke, Michael Gilmor, and Monica Houghton. I would specifically like to mention Michael Gilmor, BOP treasurer 2016-2017.”
Speaking more of Gilmor, who passed away at the beginning of this semester, Splann commented, “Not only was Mike one of the most brilliant and intelligent people I’ve ever known, but he was also one of the kindest and most humble. When I first made the Board, our new board freshmen were tasked with planning our own Freshman Fling. Mike sat with me for hours teaching me how to do the simplest event planning tasks, and he continuously supported me throughout my sophomore year. My only hope is to be half the BOP exec member and half the person Mike was.”
Splann discussed that his favorite thing about BOP is that they are fortunate enough to have the opportunity to create lasting memories for the Friar Family that students can carry with them for years to come.
He continued by stating the importance of the student body in creating the success of BOP. “I just want to encourage everybody to come to our events because I know how hard the Board works to plan these amazing events for the students. Take advantage of these opportunities to make the most of your college experience, meet new Friars, and create memories that will hopefully last many years to come.”
Finally, he discussed his future plans, saying he is not sure what they will be.
“When people find out I’m a management/theology double major, I get a lot of jokes like ‘What are you going to do with that? Manage the church?’,” joked Splann.
Splann hopes to continue studying theology in grad school and to one day teach as a professor.
“PC has helped me to uncover the things that I’m most passionate about,” said Splann, “and for that I am forever grateful. I trust that God will lead me to wherever it is He wants me to be.”
Featured Friars: NAMI Support Group
By Samantha Oakley ’20
One of the many staples of Providence College is the variety of groups on campus.
The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) support group is an up-and-coming group joining campus in October. NAMI, based in Rhode Island, is partnering with a group of PC students to hold meetings, inviting students to discuss the stigma surrounding mental health.
One of the founding members, Laura Arango ’20, explained that she, as well as others, including Jamie Rush ’20, Alex Shute ’20, and Jackson Gany ’19 will be going through a training process that will have them become facilitators rather than therapists. Doing this will allow the students at PC to join in on a conversation constructed by peers in a more comfortable environment.
The organization aims to support students struggling with mental health. Arango explains, “We are not therapists. We are here to support you. If you need something, you can talk to us. Not you need to do this, this, and this. We want to be able to provide support for our peers.”
She continued on to say, “Mental illness is a sad thing to talk about and it can often be something people do not openly talk about because they may not think they have it or that they can talk about it.”
When asked what was different about NAMI, Arango said, “There is nothing like this on Providence College’s campus, yes there this the health center but this is completely different.”
She continued, saying, “Since this is run by students, we are hoping that more students would want to come take part in this because we are all kind of on the same level. And as said before, we aren’t telling people what they need to do. But rather be there if they need to talk about their experiences and what they are going through.”
NAMI’s goal is to see the individual first and not the illness. Students are trying to understand that mental illness has environmental triggers or can be caused by traumatic events. “We aim for better coping skills by findings right in experience with others,” said Arango.
Last year, PC Active Minds hosted an event that brought the Rhode Island affiliation to Providence College. This event capitalized the statement that mental illness is a universal condition.
The affiliation brought people with different types of mental illnesses together to discuss their own experiences. It is experiences and events like this that the new Providence College chapter hopes to pursue.
NAMI’s first meeting will be on Wednesday, October 3, from 7:30-9 p.m. in the soft lounge in Slavin.
Featured Friar: Tom Bernard ’21
By Samantha Oakley ’20
Being an active leader and participant among the many different clubs and organizations on campus is a rite of passage within the Providence College community. Tom Bernard ‘21 is a perfect example of this, as he is a well-rounded student who balances both extra curriculars and academics. Bernard is a biochemistry major, the current vice president for his class on Student Congress, is an UA leader, and enjoys playing volleyball in his free time. He exemplifies all of the necessary qualities to be a standout Friar.
Upon entering into his freshman year, Bernard decided to take part in the pre-orientation program Urban Action. Urban Action is a program that supports numerous community service projects across the city of Providence.
In addition to being inspired to join Congress by his own Urban Action leader, Bernard also decided to become a UA leader himself this year. When asked why he wanted to join the program he said, “I was welcomed as a freshman and on top of everything, I want to welcome the freshmen like I was.”
Bernard joined Student Congress during his freshman year. After hearing of all the ways Congress members are able to implement change from his UA leader, he decided he also wanted to be a part of an organization that could really generate change through action.During his first year on Congress, Bernard was a part of a group that rallied for a new major within the science department. “We are able to make our own statement of position during the process,” Bernard said. He commented on his involvement in creating PC’s environmental biology major, saying, “It is pretty cool to say I was a part of a group that passed a new major.” This past spring Bernard decided to run for an executive position for his class, and is now the vice president for the class of 2022.
When asked about his future plans, Bernard remembered an International Immersions mission trip to Guatemala he was part of last year. “I am from Smithtown, New York, and even here in the United States in general, we are given access to everything. If something is wrong and we need medical attention, we can walk into a clinic and expect to be seen soon, within that day. In other third world countries, such as Guatemala, people will walk into a clinic and not be able to be seen for days.” Additionally he said, “I’d like to do something like Peace Corp, but on the medical side and be there for part of my life. Being there makes you able to see how much help is actually needed.”
Bernard also went on to discuss the things that have made him choose the path that he is currently on, saying, “as a kid, I always loved bio. Thought it was really cool, and after taking chemistry in high school, I knew I wanted to put them together. I also come from a very tight-knit family, and my parents, have really shaped me to be who I am.” When asked what his short-term goals were, he said, “focus on the day to day. Find one good thing everyday and live on that.”