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From adversity to advocacy: Kane family determined to make a difference

The Kane family, from left: Annalise, Mark ’99, Caitlan ’99 & ’01G, Madelyn, and Finn
The Kane family, from left: Annalise, Mark ’99, Caitlan ’99 & ’01G, Madelyn, and Finn

By Courtney Coelho

Before her third child was born, Caitlan Brower Kane ’99 & ’01G had never heard of peripartum cardiomyopathy.

She certainly couldn’t have told you that it’s a rare, potentially fatal heart condition that typically occurs late in pregnancy or after giving birth. Or, that it’s difficult to diagnose because its symptoms mimic those of other more common illnesses like pneumonia and even the discomfort of late-term pregnancy.

“That’s one of the biggest problems with this disease: It goes undiagnosed until it’s too late for many women,” said Caitlan.

But today, nearly six years after her daughter, Madelyn, was born, Caitlan, along with her husband, Mark Kane ’99, can talk at length about peripartum cardiomyopathy, its symptoms, and current research being done on this condition that affects between 1,000 and 3,000 women in the U.S. each year. That’s because Caitlan was one of the fortunate patients to live through PPCM. If it wasn’t for a chance encounter with her primary care physician, along with her own intuition, she may not have survived.

Now, Caitlan and Mark have dedicated themselves to spreading the word about this life-threatening condition. The two, who met at Providence College their first year and were married in 2000, see it as their mission after making it through such a harrowing ordeal.

“Surviving this, my calling is helping other women and raising awareness,” said Caitlan.

Caitlan and Mark Kane
Caitlan and Mark Kane

The couple’s work takes myriad forms. Caitlan has spoken about her experience at several events, including last summer when she gave an emotional speech at Rising Up, a series of TED-style talks about survival. She serves on both the national board of the Peripartum Cardiomyopathy Association and the heart and vascular advisory board at Brigham & Women’s Hospital.

Mark, a former Friar hockey player who had heart surgery in college to treat a rare disorder, does his part as a member of the Boston board of the American Heart Association.

But perhaps dearest to them is Sisters @ Heart (sistersatheart.org), the nonprofit Caitlan co-founded two years ago with two other women dedicated to improving the lives of local families who are affected by heart  disease and stroke. Though in its early stages, the organization has raised funds for research projects at Boston Children’s Hospital and Brigham & Women’s, and it provides support to patients and their families, offering everything from home-delivered meals to a photographer for a family with a young child in the hospital.

“There are a lot of national organizations that harness the power of how big they are, but we felt that the missing piece was the localized level, those immediate financial, emotional, and physical needs because we’ve all lived through it,” Caitlan explained.

Caitlan and Mark’s work even brought the North Attleboro, Mass., couple back to PC to meet with a hockey player with atrial fibrillation who collapsed during a game, Garrett Gamez ’19 (Chino Hills, Calif.).

“We are trying to help him figure out what’s next because he’s been told he’ll never play hockey again,” said Mark. “It’s another way for us to stay involved with our mission.”

PC was where the couple learned the importance of helping others, said Caitlan, who majored in elementary/special education and later earned a master’s degree in literacy at PC. Not only was it woven into the curriculum, but it was part of their college experience. Both of them were involved with the Feinstein Institute for Public Service, and Caitlan recalls working regularly with Providence schoolchildren during both her undergraduate and graduate education programs.

“At PC, we were always taught to find a way to give back. No matter if it’s big or small, anyone can make a difference. That really stuck with us,” said Caitlan.

Post-delivery warning signs

None of this work would have come about had it not been for Caitlan’s harrowing experience. At the time of her daughter’s birth, there was no reason to believe Caitlan was at risk for PPCM, a form of heart failure. She was a healthy, active 34-year-old mother who had no issues while pregnant with daughter Annalise, now 13, or son Finn, now 11, aside from a slightly early arrival with her first.

But shortly after giving birth in July 2012, she wasn’t feeling well.

“When the nurse came in to check my vitals I told her I felt like my heart was missing whole beats. She said she would mention it to the doctor. She also told me that my blood pressure was going up,” recalled Caitlan.

Despite the concerns of Caitlan and the nurse, the obstetrician came in the next morning and told her she was clear to go home. When she voiced worry about her heart to another doctor, she was told that it was probably just her milk coming in, coupled with anxiety about the new baby.

This sign sits on a mantel in the Kanes’s home.
This sign sits on a mantel in the Kanes’s home.

But back home that night, she knew something wasn’t right.

“I woke up covered in sweat, and I couldn’t breathe. I felt like I was having an asthma attack despite not having asthma,” she said.

She went to the hospital, where she was diagnosed with severe pneumonia, pumped with steroids, and sent home once more.

The next night was more of the same, so she had Mark drop her off at the ER. By chance, Dr. Chris Sanders, her primary physician, who is also a cardiologist, was working and came in to check on her. After hearing Caitlan’s symptoms, he decided to run an echocardiogram. It was a live-saving decision.

“He came back into the room and said, ‘Where’s Mark? You’re in heart failure, and I need him here because we have some decisions to make.’ I was in shock,” Caitlan said.

“I still get emotional thinking about that phone call,” Mark confessed.

Tests revealed that Caitlan’s heart was only functioning at 15 percent and was three times its normal size. It likely would have stopped altogether within a few hours had she not gotten help.

That first night, doctors took six liters of fluid off of Caitlan’s body. She spent a week in the ICU — isolated from her children and limited to a few visitors — before heading home with 12 medications, including shots Mark had to give her in her stomach daily, and strict limitations on her physical activity. She was told she couldn’t breastfeed her newborn and couldn’t have any more children.

Recovery was slow, but after two years Caitlan was down to two medications and becoming much more active. It was then that she started connecting with PPCM survivors on Facebook and sharing her story. Her advocacy and fundraising work grew from there.

In addition to the more obvious ways they give to their cause, the Kanes said there have been some other, less expected positives to come out of their situation.

Mark, a finance major at PC and a senior vice president at CIBC Private Wealth Management in Boston, said he’s better at his job now, as he’s able to relate to, and have more direct and empathetic conversations with, clients who are going through their own health crisis.

“You quickly realize that, stating the obvious, there is nothing more important than good health,” said Mark. “Your second realization is that time is more important than money … and I wanted more time with Caitlan.”

The co-founders of Sisters @ Heart, from left: Jamie O’Hanlon, Lisa Deck, and Caitlan Kane
The co-founders of Sisters @ Heart, from left: Jamie O’Hanlon, Lisa Deck, and Caitlan Kane  (Angela Wood Photography)

The two also use their story to educate their three children. They take them to fundraising events when appropriate and make a point of taking an annual bucket-list family vacation to teach them to cherish time together and live life to the fullest. Last year, the Kanes went diving with whale sharks in Mexico, and this year they’re headed to Patagonia.

“Going through something like this changes your perspective. We are more focused on the here and now and how we can make today great and meaningful,” said Caitlan.

Caitlan will be on an adrenaline blocker for the rest of her life. The medication makes her feel lethargic, but it’s necessary given the permanent damage PPCM likely did to her heart. Now educated on the illness, Caitlan realizes there were symptoms she was exhibiting that should have tipped doctors off earlier: a persistent cough, heart palpitations, difficulty breathing when lying down, fluid retention, and elevated blood pressure.

She now knows that a simple echocardiogram would have revealed her heart was going into failure days earlier. If she hadn’t made the decision to go back to the hospital twice, the outcome could have been far graver.

“I was trying to self-advocate, but I wasn’t doing a good enough job. I think people are thinking more about the baby and the baby’s health. It’s important to listen to your body, and if the doctors are pushing you off, push back,” said Caitlan.

Now, with a new lease on life, Caitlan wants to make sure others won’t have to push as hard as she did for an accurate — and life-saving — diagnosis.

“Surviving this, my calling is helping other women and raising awareness,” she said. “When you survive something, you always ask yourself why, then you sort through it, and it brings a different meaning to your life.”

Four exciting alumni trips on the horizon

The PC touring group listens to a local guide outside the cloisture of the Church of San Lorenzo in Florence during the “Dominican Destinations” trip to Florence and Rome in fall 2017.
The PC touring group listens to a local guide outside the cloisture of the Church of San Lorenzo in Florence during the “Dominican Destinations” trip to Florence and Rome in fall 2017.

Friar Explorations Alumni Travel Program: alumni.providence.edu/travel-with-pc/

If you are thinking about traveling in the near future but aren’t settled on where, PC’s Friar Explorations Alumni Travel Program might have the answer. Four trips, including three to Europe, are planned in 2018 and 2019.

The travel program is a fun way to connect with alumni, family, and friends, and trips offer unique learning opportunities for “beyond the classroom” experiences. Upcoming destinations follow:

• La Belle France River Cruise
OCT. 24–NOV. 1, 2018
This trip down the Seine on the luxurious Lueftner Cruise ship will be hosted by Jim Hagan ’58 and Joe Brum ’68.

• Cuba
FEB. 10–18, 2019
The journey to this beautiful Caribbean destination will be based in Havana but will branch out to other parts of the island.

• Swiss Alps (including Fribourg)
JUNE 19–27, 2019
With special appeal to alumni who once studied there, this excursion to Switzerland will be highlighted by a memorable visit to Fribourg in honor of the 40th anniversary of this foundational study abroad location.

• Ireland (including Westport)
OCT. 15–23, 2019
The west coast of Ireland, including the historic town of Westport, will be a featured destination on this trip to one of the most colorful countries in Europe.

For more information on these trips, go to the web page listed above or contact Sarah Firetto ’03 at 401-865-1909 or sfiretto@providence.edu.

Alumni & Family Weekend: All Friared Up

Students get into the FriarCon theme at Alumni & Family Weekend.
Students get into the FriarCon theme at Alumni & Family Weekend.
Janelle Ortega ’17 sings with other members of Anaclastic at the alumni a cappella concert.
Janelle Ortega ’17 sings with Anaclastic at the alumni a cappella concert.

More than 1,700 alumni, students, and their families and friends participated in an event-packed Alumni & Family Weekend on Feb. 9-11. The weekend featured FriarCon, a superhero-themed evening of activities, games, food, a concert, and more.

Other highlights included a discussion with four Friars who played on the 1998 Winter Olympics gold-medal U.S. women’s ice hockey team, athletics contests, Dinner with the Dominicans, an Olympic Village skating and social event, and an alumni a cappella concert.

 

Karen Monti Flynn ’80 & ’15P, president of the National Alumni Association, left, listens as Marcie Mai ’18, president of the Board of Multicultural Affairs, center, speaks during the “Wonder Women of PC” panel. At right is Phionna-Cayola Claude ’18, Student Congress president.
Karen Monti Flynn ’80 & ’15P, president of the National Alumni Association, left, listens as Marcie Mai ’18, president of the Board of Multicultural Affairs, center, speaks during the “Wonder Women of PC” panel. At right is Phionna-Cayola Claude ’18, Student Congress president.

Olympic gold medalists share memories at Alumni & Family Weekend

By Vicki-Ann Downing

Twenty years after they captured the first and only Olympic gold medal for the United States in women’s ice hockey, four Friars reunited at Providence College as honored guests at Alumni & Family Weekend, Feb. 9-11.

Lisa Brown-Miller ’88, Vicki Movsessian ’94, Sara DeCosta-Hayes ’00, and Laurie Baker ’00 were teammates in Nagano, Japan, when women’s ice hockey debuted as an Olympic sport in 1998 and the United States won gold. Three other Friars were members of that 20-player squad, including Cammi Granato ’93 & ’12Hon., Chris Bailey ’94, and Alana Blahoski ’96.

Granato sent a video greeting that was played on Saturday morning in Peterson Recreation Center, just before Bob Deraney, women’s ice hockey coach at PC since 1999, facilitated a discussion with Brown-Miller, Movsessian, and DeCosta-Hayes.

“The start of the Olympics is an exciting time,” said Granato, the team captain, who in 2010 became one of the first women inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame. “It’s so fun to watch the opening ceremonies and remember what that felt like. Every time there’s an Olympics, I get super-emotional. … We went in as underdogs and pulled together as a team. It all went perfectly for us. We really were the pioneers. It’s a bond we’ll have forever.”

The audience in Peterson was also treated to a video showing highlights from the team’s victory against Canada in the final round.

“Although it was 20 years ago that we won, watching videos like that gives me goosebumps and brings tears to my eyes,” said Brown-Miller, who traveled to PC from her home in Michigan. “It’s like you can step right back into that moment with just a 30-second clip.”

Olympic gold medalists, from left, Sara DeCosta-Hayes '00, Vicki Movsessian '94, and Lisa Brown-Miller '88 share their memories of Nagano, Japan.
Olympic gold medalists, from left, Sara DeCosta-Hayes ’00, Vicki Movsessian ’94, and Lisa Brown-Miller ’88 share their memories of Nagano, Japan.

At 31, Brown-Miller was one of the oldest members of the Olympic team. When she was growing up near Detroit, there were few opportunities to play women’s hockey. She decided to attend PC without being certain she could make the team. She credited the coach, John Marchetti ’71, with creating a family atmosphere that welcomed her.

“He sharpened our skates. He would do the laundry for us. He left candy in our hockey skates,” said Brown-Miller. Coming to PC “was one of the best decisions of my life,” she said.

When Brown-Miller graduated in 1988, there wasn’t even a women’s national team — it wasn’t established until 1990.

“I thought I was done (playing hockey) in 1988, and then another door opened,” Brown-Miller said. “Just as doors were opening, I was able to step through. I had some teammates who were on the other side, and they were just a step shy of getting through that door. So, I feel very fortunate.”

Movsessian, by contrast, had “tons of opportunities to play hockey with boys and girls” while growing up in Massachusetts. In 2003, she founded the Massachusetts Spitfires, a youth hockey league for girls. Six years later, with three daughters of her own, she convinced DeCosta-Hayes, who also has a daughter, to launch a similar program for girls in Rhode Island. The Rhode Island Sting uses Schneider Arena at PC as its home base.

“We see the current (PC) women’s team, the skills they have, and the talent, and the role models (they are for) our Rhode Island Sting girls every day,” said DeCosta-Hayes. “It’s an amazing experience to be there with our daughters and to be able to teach them the sport we love, and to be able to do it with my teammate and one of my best friends.”

When Movsessian arrived at PC in 1990, the foundation of women’s hockey was already in place, but “I wasn’t a scholarship athlete,” she said “I had loans. I had to do well academically. We didn’t know about the Olympic games. We were playing because we loved it and to get a good education. … To be remembered (now), because we remember our time here, is really amazing.”

At FriarCon, Olympic teammates, from left, Vicki Movsessian '94, Lisa Brown-Miller '88, Sara DeCosta-Hayes '00, and Laurie Baker '00 point to their images on a Wheaties box.
At FriarCon, Olympic teammates, from left, Vicki Movsessian ’94, Lisa Brown-Miller ’88, Sara DeCosta-Hayes ’00, and Laurie Baker ’00 point to their images on a Wheaties box.

DeCosta-Hayes, a goalie, never played hockey with girls, or had a goalie coach, until she came to PC. She was recruited by Bailey, who later became her Olympic teammate.

“It was the best decision I ever made,” said DeCosta-Hayes. “The hockey, the academics — it was everything I dreamed it would be.”

At the Olympics, Brown-Miller kept a notebook of her experiences. The team’s success “came down to chemistry,” she said. “It was by far the best team I’ve played on, the most selfless, the epitome of team. There was no one person who would make or break us. Everybody had a role to fill.”

It was not surprising that Friars made up more than a third of the players — “it’s that common bond of a Catholic school education, belief in something bigger, and striving through troubled times,” said Movsessian.

“It’s hard to find 20 people who can maintain respect for each other as teammates,” said Movsessian. “That’s what we did at the moment. We were 20 players who wanted so badly to do well for each other and collectively win. We would do anything for each other, on the bench, in the village, while playing, or not playing, or getting picked.”

Adam Hanna '18, a singer and songwriter, takes the stage to entertain at FriarCon.
Adam Hanna ’18, a singer and songwriter, takes the stage to entertain at FriarCon.

Women’s hockey was so new that the players didn’t realize at first that the world was paying attention, Movsessian said. IBM set up a “surf shack” with Yahoo email so the players could contact home, “but most of us had never used email, so we just emailed each other,” she said. “Then U.S. Hockey started filtering in commentary and emails from people around the world supporting us, and we realized this is so much bigger than us.”

DeCosta-Hayes remembered “complete chaos” when the team won.

Amie Mbye '18, right, gets a hug from her mother, Rose Lowe, at the 1G pinning ceremony for senior-class, first-generation students.
Amie Mbye ’18, right, gets a hug from her mother, Rose Lowe, at the 1G pinning ceremony for senior-class, first-generation students.

“All I can tell you is what I saw when I looked into the stands — our mothers huddled together crying, our fathers high-fiving each other, hooting and hollering,” said DeCosta-Hayes. “Our siblings being chased by security because they were climbing over the glass to get onto the ice.”

As they lined up at the blue line and the National Anthem played, “we all just reached down and held onto each other tight,” said DeCosta-Hayes. “It was such an emotional time to be joined hand-in-hand with teammates. A moment you’ll never forget and that is hard to explain.”

The ice hockey players were feted at events throughout Alumni & Family Weekend. At a Winter Olympic Village set up in the Calabria Pavilion outside Schneider Arena on Saturday night, Brown-Miller, Movsessian, and DeCosta-Hayes were joined by teammate Baker. The event included an open skate, hot chocolate, an ice bar, and viewing of the Olympics on TV.

Alumni & Family Weekend included the first “FriarCon” on Friday night in Peterson, modeled after popular book and super hero conventions.

During “The Wonder Women of PC,” Karen Monti Flynn ’80, president of the National Alumni Association Council, led a discussion with the leaders of five student organizations: Phionna-Cayola Claude ’18 (Dedham, Mass.), president of Student Congress; Marla Gagne ’18 (West Haven, Conn.), editor of The Cowl; Elizabeth Jancsy ’18 (Marblehead, Mass.), president of the Board of Programmers; Simran Madhani ’18 (Southlake, Texas), president of Friars Club; and Marcie Mai ’18 (Methuen, Mass.), president of the Board of Multicultural Student Affairs.

Adam Hanna ’18 (Lakeville, Mass.), a singer and songwriter, took the stage to perform during the night, along with student a capella, dance, and spoken word groups.

Ralph Paparella '40 waves his cap to the Dunkin' Donuts Center crowd, which stood to applaud his service in World War II. At left is PC President Rev. Brian J. Shanley, O.P. '80.
Ralph Paparella ’40 waves his cap to the Dunkin’ Donuts Center crowd, which stood to applaud his service in World War II. At left is PC President Rev. Brian J. Shanley, O.P. ’80.

Academic panels, theatre performances, and athletic contests were held throughout the weekend.

Sixteen seniors who are first-generation college students participated in a celebration with their families and other members of the College community in Aquinas Lounge on Saturday morning as part of the College’s PC 1G initiative, sponsored by Division of Student Affairs and the Center for Orientation, Transitions & Leadership. Each student received a pin to wear at commencement in May.

During the men’s basketball game at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center in downtown Providence, Ralph Paparella ’40, who is believed to be the oldest former men’s basketball player, was honored at halftime. Paparella served in World War II as an aircraft identification instructor, teaching pilots how to identify enemy airplanes. He has been active in veterans affairs, including the Veterans of Foreign Wars and the Italian American World War Veterans of the United States. He will be 100 in June.

Calabria Plaza lights the way to Providence College’s second century

A view of the Calabria Plaza and its 33-foot, stainless steel flame on a winter evening.
A view of the Calabria Plaza and its 33-foot, stainless steel flame on a winter evening

By Vicki-Ann Downing

The Calabria Plaza, the newest addition to the campus landscape, features a stainless-steel flame that rises 33 feet above the Slavin Center lawn. Illuminated at night, it is a physical representation of the Providence College motto, Veritas — Truth — symbolized by a torch.

The plaza was a gift from Joseph M. Calabria ’65 and his wife, Sugar. They are longtime philanthropic supporters of PC athletics, but this gift has different meaning.

“It’s special,” said Joseph Calabria. “We wanted to do something more to remind people what the College is all about — the search for Veritas.”

The black granite plaza was completed in December. It includes benches for reflection and a polished wall on which are engraved the names of the Dominican saints, the College’s Alma Mater, and the Dominican and College seals. The cornerstones are engraved “1917” and “2017,” the year of the College’s founding and its centennial, to indicate PC’s transition to its second century.

The flame’s height represents the number of years Jesus lived on earth before his crucifixion. Its three tongues of flame represent the Trinity. The back wall is 7 feet high, a significant number throughout Scripture.

The pattern of stones on the plaza base calls to mind the halo of St. Dominic, which the Calabrias learned about from Rev. Richard A. McAlister, O.P., professor emeritus of art, while viewing the work of Very Rev. Thomas McGlynn, O.P. ’77Hon., the late Dominican sculptor whose collection is housed at the College.

Religious symbolism was important to the Calabrias, who wanted the plaza and flame to be symbols for light and truth, the College’s Catholic and Dominican identity.

“It’s a place where students can come to sit and consider truth, to think about why they have been brought here in life, and a spot where alumni can think back on their experiences at PC and consider the value they got from the education here,” said Calabria, who is a member of the PC Board of Trustees.

Joseph M. Calabria '65 and his wife, Sugar, with the flame behind them
Joseph M. Calabria ’65 and his wife, Sugar, with the flame behind them

The Calabrias live in Boulder, Colo., where they own a business, CounterTrade Products, Inc., which sells IT products and services and employs 60 people. Several years ago, during one of their regular visits to PC, the couple realized that while the torch symbol is represented in classrooms and buildings, there was no actual torch on campus.

“We talked about putting a flame up. That’s how it started,” said Calabria. “We considered a three-sided pyramid with a real flame. Then we decided we wanted something more modern, to bring the College into its next century. We moved the inscription from the pyramid to the wall.”

The College asked Stephen Forneris ’90, an architect who designed the Ruane Friar Development Center being built near Alumni Hall, to provide ideas. He produced sketches and created replicas of the proposed flame with a 3D printer.

Forneris’ design was modified by sculptor Brian Hanlon, of Hanlon Sculpture Studios in Toms River, N.J., who also is working on the Ruane Friar Development Center. Hanlon is creating statues of Friar basketball coaches Dave Gavitt ’89Hon. and Joe Mullaney ’65Hon. & ’98Hon. for the center, which will include a basketball practice facility and a new Center for Career Education and Professional Development.

Hanlon selected a foundry in China to manufacture the flame. When complete, it was shipped in three pieces across the Pacific Ocean to Long Beach, Calif., then transported to Providence by truck. The flame was assembled in eight hours on a Saturday in September with the help of two 60-ton cranes, then hoisted onto its base and anchored by 31 bolts. It weighs 18,000 pounds — nine tons — and measures 18 feet at its widest point.

The engraved black granite for the plaza wall was manufactured in China, too. The plaza was designed by SLAM Collaborative, with structural work by Michael Ludvik. The lighting, which includes glass stones at the flame’s base that resemble embers, was by HLB Lighting Design in Boston.

The plaza’s slogan, “The Search for Veritas Begins Here,” is engraved in the wall. It was suggested by Steven R. Napolillo ’98, senior executive associate athletic director for external relations.

“The donors hope the sculpture reminds students about the importance of education and the Dominican pursuit of truth through knowledge,” said Forneris, whose daughter, Sophia Forneris ’18, is a PC student. “I can think of no better time to reinforce this message.”

Cranes were used to hoist the flame onto its base in September. It weighs 18,000 pounds — nine tons — and measures 18 feet at its widest point.
Cranes were used to hoist the flame onto its base in September. It weighs 18,000 pounds — nine tons — and measures 18 feet at its widest point.

Calabria grew up in Reading, Pa., the grandson of Italian immigrants. He first heard about Providence College in 1961 while watching the men’s basketball team win the National Invitational Tournament. After seeing the College mentioned again in a college brochure, he visited campus, liked what he saw, and submitted his application. He majored in physics.

“I wanted to create jobs and own my own business,” said Calabria. “I work now so that I can contribute to causes I believe in. If I didn’t work, I couldn’t do that.”

Throughout his college years, Calabria’s family struggled financially. During his senior year, his father was laid off from his factory job as a needle straightener. It wasn’t an unusual circumstance for a PC student at the time. What kept students in school?

“The Dominicans and their teaching,” Calabria said. “We were all first- and second-generation immigrants and we had no money, but the Dominicans taught us for free. Also, I had a tremendous drive to make it in the world. I came to college to figure out how to create jobs, not to get a job. And while I had low grades and no money, I completed school.”

After graduation, at his mother’s urging, Calabria applied for a job at IBM in his hometown. He didn’t want to accept the position, but his mother told him, “‘Giuseppe! Apple pie, motherhood, the American flag, and IBM — you have to work there!” So he did.

It wasn’t long before Calabria was able to start his own business. From 1977-1983, the family lived in Connecticut, close enough to campus to attend athletics events with their children — one of whom, Sharon Calabria Norwell ’93, chose to attend PC, too.

Calabria is pleased with the finished plaza.

“I really think it’s meant for the campus,” he said.

Sugar Calabria described it as “a dream come true.”

“Whenever I would step on campus, it always felt like I was receiving a big hug,” she said. “Now it’s not just a big hug, it’s a big, warm hug.”

John M. Sweeney, senior vice president of finance and business and chief financial officer, said the plaza “is meant as a place to remember as well as to inspire.”

“The Calabria family wanted to create a dynamic symbol to inspire the Providence College community and honor all of the Dominican friars who have served us,” Sweeney said. “Joe and Sugar have been very generous to Providence College over the years and felt this was a lasting way to recognize the important role the College and the Dominicans have had in their lives.”

Gift from scientist Robert C. Gallo, M.D. ’59 establishes global health fellowships

A gift from biomedical researcher Robert C. Gallo, M.D. ’59 & ’74Hon., here, and his wife, Mary Jane Gallo, will create a fellowship program in global health for PC students. (Photo courtesy of Institute of Human Virology)
A gift from biomedical researcher Robert C. Gallo, M.D. ’59 & ’74Hon., here, and his wife, Mary Jane Gallo, will create a fellowship program in global health for PC students. (Photo courtesy of Institute of Human Virology)

By Debbie Hazian

Celebrating a career dedicated to improving global health, biomedical researcher Robert C. Gallo, M.D. ’59 & ’74Hon. and his wife, Mary Jane Gallo, have established an endowed fund that will create exciting service-oriented internship opportunities worldwide for Providence College students.

Mary Jane and Robert C. Gallo, M.D. ’59 & ’74Hon. (Photo courtesy of IHV)
Mary Jane and Robert C. Gallo, M.D. ’59 & ’74Hon. (Photo courtesy of IHV)

The leadership gift will create the Gallo Global Health Fellowship Program for annual summer internships for students from multiple academic disciplines in clinical settings in the United States and abroad. The endowment will provide a stipend and cover travel costs and other expenses.

Gallo is the co-founder and director of the Institute of Human Virology (IHV) at the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore. He also is The Homer & Martha Gudelsky Distinguished Professor in Medicine and is the co-founder and director of the Global Virus Network (GVN).

Gallo became world famous in 1984 when he co-discovered HIV as the cause of AIDS, a mysterious disease that was quickly becoming the deadliest in medical history.

Gallo and his team also led the development of the HIV blood test, which enabled health care workers to screen for the AIDS virus for the first time, leading to a more rapid diagnosis while protecting patients receiving blood transfusions. In more than six decades of biomedical research, he has led groundbreaking work in the diagnosis and treatment of cancer, herpes, and other diseases.

Prior to the AIDS epidemic, Gallo was the first to identify a human retrovirus and the only known human leukemia virus — HTLV — one of few known viruses shown to cause a human cancer. In 1976, he and his colleagues discovered Interleukin-2, a growth-regulating substance now used as therapy in some cancers and sometimes AIDS. His research has brought him international recognition as well as election into the National Academy of Sciences and the Institute of Medicine.

Gallo said he was inspired to make the gift to his alma mater after learning about a proposal for a fellowship program in global health last March when he visited campus to take part in a Centennial Presidential Speaker Series panel discussion.

“This seemed like a very good thing for us to do to help young people … to help stimulate them to help other people in need in the fields of science and medicine. It was one of the most appropriate things for us to be involved with,” he said.

According to Dr. Charles R. Toth, associate professor of biology and department chair, who will also chair the fellowship program, the Gallos’ gift will allow students to have the opportunity to work in clinical locations worldwide, including Institute of Human Virology clinics in Baltimore, Haiti, and several African nations, and will be matched according to their interests.

“Dr. Gallo’s whole life has been dedicated to global health. The fellowships provide an opportunity for students to get excited about improving global health. This places scientific research within the ethical and moral framework of a Providence College education,” said Toth, who expressed his gratitude to the Gallos for making the fellowship program possible.

Dr. Stephen J. Mecca ’64 & ’66G, professor of physics, left, works in his campus S-Lab with Alejandro Ayala ’17. The first student experiences in the Gallo Global Health Fellowship Program will take place this summer in Ghana under Mecca’s direction.
Dr. Stephen J. Mecca ’64 & ’66G, professor of physics, left, works in his campus S-Lab with Alejandro Ayala ’17. The first student experiences in the Gallo Global Health Fellowship Program will take place this summer in Ghana under Mecca’s direction.

The fellowships will begin this summer with a pilot program to Ghana under the direction of Dr. Stephen J. Mecca ’64 & ’66G, professor of physics, who directs the S-Lab where students conduct research on complex problems in water, sanitation, hygiene, and rural education. In addition, Mecca and his colleagues take students to Ghana each year, often helping to deploy interventions developed in the lab. Two or three students are expected to work in community health clinics and at a refuge for people living with AIDS this summer.

The selection process for students and other program details fall under the purview of the Gallo Fellowship Committee. In addition to Toth, members are Dr. Tuba I. Agartan, associate professor of health policy and management; Dr. Nicholas V. Longo ’96, professor of global studies and of public and community service studies; Dr. Terence A. McGoldrick, associate professor of theology; and Mecca.

One aspect of the fellowships that appeals to Gallo is that students from any major can participate.

“It’s nice that this is not just for science majors,” he said. “We need people who can write the laws, social workers, [and] mothers and fathers in a household. We need people from all kinds of fields to fight these diseases.”

“It could be for students in global studies, health policy, public and community service,” added Toth. “The fellowships are designed not just for science students, but to attract students from all over campus.”

The Gallo Fellowships also could help students determine their career path, said Toth and Gallo.

Dr. Gallo, right, speaks at a PC Centennial Presidential Speaker Series panel discussion in March 2017. At left is panelist Paul Farmer, M.D., co-founder of Partners in Health.
Dr. Gallo, right, speaks at a PC Centennial Presidential Speaker Series panel discussion in March 2017. At left is panelist Paul Farmer, M.D., co-founder of Partners in Health.

“This is an additional opportunity to find that spark, that transformative moment that gets them excited about what they want to do,” said Toth.

“The transformative experience is obvious,” Gallo said. He hopes students will “gain an experience that they would not have dreamed of. They will see people with an enormous amount of problems. They will see it firsthand. For some, it will change their career path. For some, it will form their career path. All will have an experience that will stay with them throughout their lives.”

In addition, Toth believes the fellowships will appeal strongly to current and prospective students both because of the opportunity to travel abroad and to serve others.

“We have a unique population of students. They are not just here for an education. They are here to do more. This program allows them to do something important, to give back. This combines something they’re interested in, academic and career-wise, with a service component,” he said.

The fellowships are being launched at an exciting time for science education at PC. The Science Complex is undergoing extensive construction and renovation work in several phases, and the improvements will impact students and faculty in biology, chemistry, engineering, physics, and psychology. A four-story addition to Albertus Magnus Hall is scheduled to open this fall.

The Gallo Global Health Fellowship Program gift was made during the recent Our Moment: The Next Century Campaign for Providence College that raised $185 million.

Students urged to actively support ‘Dreamers’ at alumni panel on DACA

Panelist Mike Raia '05, left, makes a point during the Veritas and Values program. Listening are, from left, panelists Luanne Santelises '06, Andrew Rodgers '07, and Andrea Rojas '17.
Panelist Mike Raia ’05, left, makes a point during the Veritas and Values program. Listening are, from left, panelists Luanne Santelises ’06, Andrew Rodgers ’07, and Andrea Rojas ’17.

By Debbie Hazian

When U.S. President Donald Trump called for an end to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, Providence College student Monet Eugene ’20 (Dorchester, Mass.) said she was in complete shock.

“It was a very sad day,” said the daughter of immigrants from Honduras and Dominica of the order issued in early September. “I know people who are terrified. I remember helping my parents through the immigration process and helping my father practice The Pledge of Allegiance.”

While Eugene has experienced firsthand the long road to legal immigration in the U.S., some of her Providence College classmates said they were unaware of the fear and potential consequences their peers will face if Congress does not enact immigration reform by March 5, 2018. Some of the nearly 800,000 “Dreamers” protected by DACA will lose their legal status, leaving them unable to work, drive, or remain in the country legally while facing possible deportation.

Those issues were the topic of an interactive Veritas and Values presentation, “DACA Deconstructed: Alumni Perspectives through Their Everyday Work.” Held at the newly renovated The Center for Moore Hall, the program was sponsored by the PC National Alumni Association and hosted by the Student Alumni Association. The panel focused on how the careers of the participating alumni are affected by DACA and the PC experiences that influenced their current career path.

The panelists included Mike Raia ’05, communications director for the Office of the Rhode Island Governor; Andrew Rodgers ’07, associate attorney at Green & Spiegel, an immigration law firm in Providence; Andrea Rojas ’17, citizenship and immigration caseworker at Dorcas International of Rhode Island; and Luanne Santelises ’06, attorney and founder of Santelises Law Firm in Providence, which focuses on all areas of immigration law and procedure.

Sarah Trayers ’17, a graduate assistant at PC who co-founded the Providence Immigrant Rights Coalition and served as its president, was moderator.

DACA was established by former President Barack Obama in 2012 to allow some immigrants who entered the U.S. as children to receive deferred action from deportation for two years. Since President Trump announced plans to end the program, Congress is charged with creating immigration reform policy before the March deadline.

Panelist Andrea Rojas ’17 listens to an audience member.
Panelist Andrea Rojas ’17 listens to an audience member.

President Rev. Brian J. Shanley, O.P. ’80 underscored the College’s support for the continuation of DACA in a letter to the College community in September. He wrote “… we stand in solidarity with all the immigrant and international members of our community, documented or not. Our advocacy flows from the fact that the moral obligation to protect the dignity and life of every human person lies at the heart of Catholic social teaching.’’

Students were urged by forum panelists to support those affected by DACA. According to Santelises, who helps clients navigate the complex immigration process, many fear deportation. She urged the approximately 100 students in the audience to become activists.

“Call your congressman, write to your congressman, be vocal. Get out there and let your congressman know you want this to stay. These young individuals deserve legal status,” said Santelises.

Rodgers, whose practice is focused on representing small businesses, startups, and investors, said he is receiving more calls from individuals about DACA, which means he needs to watch immigration policy very closely.

“The current administration’s efforts have made immigration more difficult,” said Rodgers. “We always have to keep up to date. It’s made our jobs busier, and we have to reach out to the community more.”

Raia called for immediate immigration reform.

“There is no word for this other than ‘cruel’,” he said. “These are Americans. They grew up here, they went to school here, and this is the only home they have ever known.”

Rojas, who came to the U.S. from Guatemala when she was 4 years old, is working toward becoming a Board of Immigration Appeals accredited representative by November 2018. She said the undocumented immigrant population doesn’t feel welcome and mistrusts the political process. She urged PC students to go to rallies to increase support and “to show the undocumented population that they are safe here. We grew up feeling part of a community. Make people feel welcome.”

When panelists were asked how to help, Rojas said that when Rhode Island made in-state tuition available for undocumented immigrants “it was a huge win.” She called for more services for students during and after their college years.

 Panelist Mike Raia ’05 speaks with Rachel Laravie ’18, left, and Amy Gilligan ’18 after the program.
Panelist Mike Raia ’05 speaks with Rachel Laravie ’18, left, and Amy Gilligan ’18 after the program.

Rodgers agreed that colleges can provide a range of support on campus “to make these folks feel more welcome. There is power in numbers. We can provide legal and emotional support so these folks are not feeling beaten down by the system and that they have no support.”

Raia spoke of the Rhode Island Promise Program, which provides free tuition for Rhode Island residents at the Community College of Rhode Island. “It makes the difference between an upwardly mobile job and earning minimum wage,” he said.

When asked how PC shaped their career paths, the panelists said their studies and the people they met formed who they are today. For Rojas, it was her majors in global studies and sociology and the conversations she had in class that stuck with her.

Santelises always knew she wanted to be an advocate and help others.

“PC is grounded in Catholic values,” she said. “It reminded me of social justice, of being a voice for the voiceless. I realized I had to do something to help my community. Being an immigration attorney was the best place to put my abilities to use.”

“I think the panel went very well,” said Connor Ayers ’18 (Holbrook, N.Y.), president of the SAA. “I hadn’t really researched the topic, but now that I see what could happen and how people are being affected, we need to give them our support.”

“I didn’t fully understand DACA, and I hope the people here tonight also learned more,” said Samantha Keating ’18 (Wayland, Mass.), SAA vice president. “I’m very grateful to these alumni for being here to talk about it.”

Veritas and Values, launched in 2015, offers programming that facilitates interaction between alumni and students.

Now and Forever a Friar

New Student Orientation leaders race into the Peterson Recreation Center for a T-shirt toss during the Forever a Friar program for the Class of 2021 on move-in day in August. Started in 2012, the program welcomes first-year students to the Friar family and encourages them to become involved in the life of the College, take advantage of the alumni network, and develop a commitment to giving back.

Ready to be Instafamous?

Keasel Broome '14
Keasel Broome ’14

Showcase a day in your life with an InstaFriar takeover (prov.ly/instafriar) and join alumni like Maggie Cadigan ’11, an ad agency brand manager, and Pittsburgh Riverhounds soccer goalie Keasel Broome ’14. Contact Marie Flego ’14 & ’16G in Alumni Relations at mflego@providence.edu.

2018 Friar Explorations: Experience Europe!

• Wizarding World of Harry Potter in London
APRIL 14–21, 2018
A perfect trip for PC families during April vacation, this excursion includes behind-the-scenes Harry Potter tours and a reception with local alumni and students.

• La Belle France River Cruise
OCT. 24–NOV. 1, 2018
Travel down the Seine on the luxurious Lueftner Cruise ship on a unique excursion hosted by Jim Hagan ’58 and Joe Brum ’68.

Early bird pricing available. Learn more about these trips.