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Lindsey Ciolfi

Some students get involved in clubs and organizations to fill idle times during their week. Others do it to decompress from the rigors of their academic studies. For Lindsey Ciolfi ’17 (Watertown, Mass.), her extensive involvement in campus life is personally enjoyable but carries a deeper meaning through a call to serve others. The time she has spent as both the Coordinator of the PC Chapter of Habitat for Humanity and as a Father Smith Fellow has allowed her to connect with her faith and develop personally. 

Looking for a way to provide service, have fun, and get to know people around campus, Lindsey became involved with a Habitat for Humanity build in the Providence area during her freshman year. She fell in love with the program and increased her commitment by not only participating in three Spring Break trips but also becoming the program’s Coordinator — facilitating service opportunities for other students on campus.

Lindsey’s involvement in Habitat for Humanity led her to the Fr. Philip A. Smith, O.P. Student Fellowships for Study and Service Abroad program. A friend who was on her freshman year Habitat for Humanity trip and a fellow Liturgical Choir member had been a Father Smith Fellow previously and encouraged Lindsey to explore the program.

The Father Smith Fellowships, which started in 2008, enable students to undertake summer study or service at Catholic and Dominican sites outside the continental United States, with all expenses covered. The program is designed to encourage highly motivated students to deepen their acquaintance with the Catholic and Dominican intellectual tradition and the ethos of Christian service, as well as introduce them to the breadth and richness of the Church around the world.

After attending information sessions and perusing past participants’ blogs, Lindsey applied for the program and was accepted. In thinking of where she wanted to serve, she ultimately chose the Solomon Islands in northeast Oceania. Reflecting back, she chose it because it seemed to be one of the more spiritual locations, as well as offering a different pace of life. Arriving in Auki in the Solomon Islands, she immersed herself in the community of two Dominicans, including Bishop Christopher Cardone, O.P. ’80 & ’01 Hon., who has since been named an archbishop in the Solomons by Pope Francis.

During her time there, she engaged in relational ministry, spreading witness to her faith by working directly with natives and developing a community of prayer. A sense of welcome followed her everywhere and provided an especially formative experience for Lindsey, who discovered her faith more deeply after coming to PC and was even confirmed in St. Dominic Chapel her freshman year. 

Lindsey’s charitable and caring spirit extends beyond her extracurricular involvement, however. As a double major in biology and psychology and as a member of the Neuroscience Certificate Program, she says that her studies have given her the skills she will eventually need to give back. Though she initially entered the program with her sights on research, two years of work in the Neuroscience & Animal Cognition Lab at PC helped her realize that it wasn’t the path for her but that what she learned could be used in a more applied and fulfilling way by lifting up others. 

Growing up in a family that valued service and encouraged her to meet others where they are at regardless of circumstances, Lindsey has always been focused on helping others. Now, because of her experiences at Providence College, that focus has been elevated with the realization that faith drives her passion to serve. As she begins to look beyond college, Lindsey says she will remember the experiences and lessons she’s learned here and use them to influence the lives of others.