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​Lorraine ’13SCE (left) and Carla ’07 & ’13G Ciorlano

Class of 2013: Lives of Meaning and Purpose

Ciorlano ’13SCE Realizes Life Dream with ‘Cheerleader’s’ Guidance

EDITOR’S NOTE: The following is one in a series of profiles on members of the Class of 2013, who will graduate on May 19. To read other profiles, go to the commencement page.

By Charles C. Joyce

The train trips from Providence to New Jersey were well worth it for Lorraine J. Ciorlano ’13SCE.

So was plowing through 300-page books in a week while working full time and taking classes.

The periodic feelings of uncertainty, doubt, and fatigue? Heck, those are in the rear-review mirror.

When Lorraine attends Providence College’s Ninety-Fifth Commencement Exercises on May 19 at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center she’ll be doing so not only as a parent, but as a student. Forty-one years after earning her associate’s degree from Roger Williams University, she will be awarded what has been a lifelong goal — a bachelor’s degree, which she’ll receive in liberal studies through PC’s School of Continuing Education (SCE).

A few minutes after she cradles her diploma, she’ll watch as her oldest daughter, Carla Ciorlano ’07 & ’13G, accepts her second PC degree, a master’s of education in counseling.

“We are excited,” exclaimed Lorraine. “It’s very emotional for me. I’ll be sitting in the audience with her. My mind will be in two places at once.”

The significance of the occasion is monumental to mother and daughter. While Lorraine’s family and SCE faculty and staff have wholeheartedly supported her journey to commencement, no one has been as instrumental as Carla.

“Carla was my biggest cheerleader,” said Lorraine, who is the administrative assistant in the PC Department of Military Science, where she started in 1995 following a 23-year career with the former Old Stone Bank in Rhode Island.

Carla was there for her mother from the time Lorraine decided to pursue her bachelor’s degree through the SCE in fall 2008. Carla, a philosophy major, helped her with the matriculation essay and talked her through her first course, Ethics, which Lorraine took with Carla’s former philosophy professor, Dr. Peter R. Costello. She even rode the train up from Hoboken, N.J., where she was living at the time, to coach her mom through those early SCE days.

But Carla said it was her mother’s subsequent train trips to New Jersey that truly reaped educational dividends for her and made Carla immensely proud.

“It was a big lifetime experience for her when she came to visit me by herself,” said Carla. “It was cool to see her focus on her education and come to me. It was kind of out of character for her; she likes being around people. It was shaping her life, and she was being independent.”

Between those train trips and more than a few phone calls, Carla “taught me how to study and pick things apart … how to read and grasp subject matter,” said Lorraine.

It was easy to be a “cheerleader,” said Carla, who works for LIN Media in Providence. “It made me happy to see her doing something for herself. She’s a very giving and selfless person. She wanted to better herself, and it brought her fulfillment.”

Steady pace, firm sight

Lorraine needed 15 courses to complete her bachelor’s requirements and took them methodically, during semesters, terms, and winter intersessions. This spring, she’s completing an elective, Computer Art. She’s even considering returning to school in the fall.

“Getting my bachelor’s was always a personal goal,” said Lorraine, whose younger daughter, Laura ’11, also graduated from PC and whose husband, Peter, taught in the SCE in the late 1990s. “It was something that I wanted. I was hungry inside; I felt incomplete.”

Once she began taking classes she realized her life circumstances were similar to other SCE students’ experiences. That made her feel comfortable.

Along the way, she was encouraged and challenged by numerous SCE instructors, including Marcia Harrop, Richard Kless ’74, ’78G, & ’82SCE, and Alexander DiPippo, and by SCE staff members, especially Jennifer Andrews, an academic counselor. Two of her favorite courses were Children’s Literature and Adolescent Literature, which she took with Harrop, “who brought me out of my shell. You had to talk (in her class). She widened my scope of reading and studying.”

While her five-year pursuit was sometimes exhausting and she would question whether she’d complete her degree requirements, she was often uplifted by the passion of her teachers, said Lorraine. The accomplishment easily outweighs the journey’s ups-and-downs, and she can’t wait for commencement.

“I picture myself walking up there … am I going to be shaky? I think the biggest emotion will be excitement,” she said.

However, there may be one person more excited — and more proud — than Lorraine. It’s her “cheerleader.”

“People ask what it’s (her bachelor’s degree) for,” said Carla. “She’d say, ‘It’s for myself,’ and I am so proud of  her for saying that. It’s for her learning, her intellect.”

 
 
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