Resilience Through the Centuries

Providence College opened its doors 102 years ago as an all-male Catholic College. At this time, the school was very small with Harkins being one of the only buildings on campus and the first graduating class being made up of 18 students. This small Catholic College had many ups and downs in the coming years through the Great Depression, and World War II, but came together as a community to work through these struggles.

Everything changed in 1971 when Thomas R. Peterson became the 9th head of school. He wanted to make changes, and one of the biggest advances he wanted to make, was to invite women to be a part of the Providence College community. During his time, he successfully made Providence a co-educational school. He added a female dormitory known as Aquinas Hall and encouraged females to be a part of student run clubs to integrate them into the school. A woman known as Anne Martha Frank was the first woman to edit the Cowl; Patricia Sloniona became the first woman editor of the literary magazine, The Albemic; Ann Margarita Cebrera was the first woman to edit the school yearbook, The Veritas. These examples represent some of the first courageous women who are known in Providence College’s history as having an impact in a once male dominated community.

This school year, some of Providence College’s most popular clubs, Board of Programmers, Friars Club, Student Congress, and Board of Multicultural Student Affairs, are all lead by women. This one of the first times in the school’s history that all women hold roles in some of the most respected positions of the school. This portrays how, slowly but surely, women are getting their voices heard not only here at Providence College but all over the world. Women are flourishing in higher education.

Although women are prospering, they do not get to the place they are without many obstacles. As stated by a professor Michelle King at USC, “Women have to be in leadership roles so others can see them in leadership roles,” King said. That way, people get used to knowing that women can manage and make tough decisions.” King speaks to all women by emphasizing the importance of holding leadership positions, to show that they are strong and are just as respectable as everyone else. King’s words of encouragement are remarks that stick. King says, “We have to encourage women to be resilient and courageous and bold and want to step up.” This is seen here at Providence by the women who put much of their time and effort to bring Providence College to a new level. Female leaders at Providence are passionate, intelligent, and radiant positivity,  which all the students can see clearly and look up to.

I am happy to see Providence College grow for the better and watch women want to take charge. These women should be inspiration to all the girls at Providence College. You have to persevere to get what you want and that is seen not only by women just on this small campus but all over the world.