R.I. Campus Compact Recognizes Community Service Efforts at PC
Representatives of the 12 colleges and universities in Rhode Island gathered at Providence College for the annual statewide meeting of Rhode Island Campus Compact, an organization that promotes community service, civic engagement, and service learning for students and faculty.
During the meeting, Campus Compact recognized PC professor Dr. Raymond L. Sickinger ’71 for his work with the organization and heard Kathryn McCann ’12 (Stewart Manor, N.Y.), a national Newman Civic Fellow for 2011, speak about the benefits of helping others.
The Newman award is given to students who work to find solutions to challenges facing their communities. Magali Garcia-Pletsch ’13 was the recipient this year.
Carie Hertzberg, executive director of Rhode Island Campus Compact, thanked Sickinger for his “deep commitment to service.” He has been chair of PC’s Department of Public and Community Service Studies since 2006 and director of the College's Feinstein Institute for Public Service since 2003. Both are longtime partners of Campus Compact. Sickinger will be on sabbatical next semester.
In welcoming participants to the meeting, College President Rev. Brian J. Shanley, O.P. ’80 reminisced about his arrival at PC as a student in 1976 and the first two courses in European history that he took with Sickinger, then a young history faculty member.
“I fell in love with history,” Father Shanley said. “I wouldn’t be who I am today without the teachers who brought me here.”
Father Shanley noted that the Campus Compact meeting was taking place during Holy Week. On Holy Thursday, the last night of Jesus’ life, “trying to get one final point home,” Jesus washed the feet of his disciples, telling them, “This I have done for you so you might do it for others.”
“For many of our students, service is religiously motivated,” Father Shanley said. But whatever is behind it, it allows students to “get outside themselves” and to reflect afterward on “what it is we do, why we do it, and what it means.”
Understanding “God’s providence”
McCann, a public and community service studies major, spoke about how her life was changed by a rejection letter she received in 2008 from a national scholarship committee. It forced her to change her academic plans and embark on a course she had never considered before.
McCann said she reflects “on how differently my life would have been if things went my way.” Some would call the path she found “fate” or “karma,” but at PC, “we know it as God’s providence working for the good,” McCann said.
“Sometimes things are out of your control,” but that doesn’t mean you sit still and accept them, McCann said. Rather, we are challenged to pick an issue “deeply rooted in our values” and work to learn about it in order to change the world, she said.
Panel discussion by presidents
At the close of the meeting, three college presidents — Nancy Carriuolo of Rhode Island College, Ray DiPasquale of Community College of Rhode Island, and John Maeda of Rhode Island School of Design — discussed “A Crucible Moment: College Learning & Democracy’s Future,” a report by the National Task Force on Civic Learning and Democratic Engagement.
The panel was moderated by Liz Hollander, senior fellow at the Tisch College of Citizenship and Public Service at Tufts University and former director of the national Campus Compact.
Participants also viewed a display of service projects by Campus Compact’s Statewide Faculty Fellows, including Dr. Comfort M. Ateh, assistant professor of secondary education at PC, who presented the results of service learning in her Urban Education class.
Two PC professors are faculty leaders for the program, Dr. Joseph P. Cammarano, associate professor of political science, and Dr. Richard M. Battistoni, professor of political science.
— Vicki-Ann Downing