“People are here to help you if you need it,” insisted Sara Pistilli, ‘12, a licensed pharmacist and law student at the University of Minnesota.

This is a sentiment many PA alumni share. To give back to their alma mater, six alumni, ranging from nurses to pharmacists, eagerly met in the Lecture Hall on Friday, January 28 to share their post-Providence experiences. What’s more, opportunities like this one are becoming more and more accessible. With Providence having graduated over 1000 students and many alumni now reaching post-college careers, PA’s alumni network is stronger than ever before, and able to reach current students in new and creative ways.

This year, Providence celebrates being open for twenty years; an impressive landmark. It is miniscule, however, compared to surrounding schools and universities. Because of Providence Academy’s youth, its graduate pool has also been small and young, creating very few opportunities for alumni to have an organized database, mentor current students, or stay connected with happenings in the PA community. 

This all changed thanks to the growing number of alumni, and notably, PA clubs.

Recent PA graduates were able to give advice to juniors and seniors curious about the college process, during a forum on Wednesday, January 5.

After COVID restrictions shut down club activity for the first semester, PA administration saw an opportunity to do two things at once: fill in clubs’ empty calendars and forge student-alumni connections. After working with club advisors and leaders, administration brought in nearly fifty alumni throughout 2021 to share wisdom on everything from career paths to college choices. Thus began the Alumni Forums.

“Attaching a club onto forums helped this thing really take off,” enthused Mrs. Sarah Hogan, Director of Alumni Management. “The club-panel pairing found a group that would be ready for that specific help, while also opening it up to any students that had interest. Robotics Club was paired with careers in STEM. Speech Club was paired with Law. The Finance Club with Finance.”

These forums lent a helping hand to many students, from Letters of Love Club soaking in knowledge about careers in Social Services to the Medical Club gaining advice about vocations in healthcare. 

Koralyn Horstman, ‘23, remarked, “Friday’s alumni panel gave me more confidence that medicine is what I want to do.” 

The expanding network allows many alumni — from long-graduated doctors to students still in college — to help current students with discernment.

Students’ futures are not the only ones looking brighter. Opportunities for PA alumni are growing. In the past few years alone, PA graduates have come back as teachers, given commencement speeches, and even started their own online book club with long-time English teacher Mr. Schmalzbauer. In future years, there is even more to come. Panels covering lesser-known careers – such as sciences that are not related to healthcare – are hopefully coming soon.

Throughout all these pending changes, one thing remains constant: Providence Academy. All students and graduates connecting with each other have walked through the same yellow halls and learned the same faith-filled principles that set them apart from other people entering the workforce.

Sara Maryon Hayes, ‘05, put it best: “The nerd skills become natural. It’s the faith and the virtue that that are the harder and more necessary attributes. You are often with people on the worst days of your life, so virtue is something you use every single day.”