Kaitlyn Brilhante ’21
Serving and volunteering in the community is the aspect of my weekly routine that I find most gratifying. I was introduced to Sr. Catherine McAuley, her passion for charity, and her eagerness to serve others when I was in fourth grade at Saints Peter and Paul School. Since then I have volunteered through numerous opportunities at my parish, as well as in various nursing homes, hospitals, and nonprofits in both Rhode Island and Massachusetts. Four years ago, I decided to attend Salve Regina, where the Catholic values and traditions that I embraced could be nurtured not only in my life but in the lives of everyone that I meet and serve in the community.
I strive to make the world a better place for all people—regardless of their socioeconomic status, ethnic background, or religious beliefs, and Salve is a place where I can do that. Volunteer opportunities and programs through the Center for Community Engagement and Service continue to instill, in all students, the need to recognize a problem in the world around us, and in the truly important words of Sister Betty, allow us to “be curious, be motivated, and be engaged.” This is truly something that has stuck with me over the past four years as I carry out good works because no matter where we come from or will be after our time at Salve ends if we are motivated to seek a more harmonious, just, and merciful world, we will find the best solution to meet our community’s needs no matter how big or small.
Over the past four years, the Center for Community Engagement and Service at Salve Regina University has continuously provided me with the resources needed to enhance my leadership skills while volunteering in some of the most impoverished communities on Aquidneck Island. Whether it was facilitating a Service Plunge, creating and leading service activities for other students, or simply reaching out to community partners and people in need of help, I was able to learn more about ways that I not only may volunteer my time to serve others but how I may help recruit other Salve students to seek service opportunities.
My Service Advocate and internship positions at Newport Hospital over the past few years have helped me to build on the skills needed to help those in need. At Newport Hospital, interacting with patients in the BHU (Behavioral Health Unit) and on other floors helped me gain communication skills and make these individuals feel appreciated in the lives of those around them. As a Senior Service Advocate, I have been able to meet people of all ages who are struggling. These first-hand experiences have enriched my understanding to always work towards a world of harmony, mercy, and justice to help these people along their journey and hopefully assist them in seeking the same gratification and enrichment in their own lives.
Being a Service Advocate has given me new perspectives each time I go out into the community. Recently recognizing the needs of homeless children living in a motel on the island, I saw an opportunity to give back. Making snack kits, sending meals, and holiday-themed surprises such as Valentine’s and Easter Baskets are just some examples of how we have been and are going to continue to reach out to these children.
In accordance with the mission of Salve Regina, I believe it is important to be a good steward, serving those around us and making a difference in the lives of others in the simplest daily acts. All acts may be impactful for someone in need of our help regardless of how small we think they are. Certainly, in the eyes of these children, it is a big act that will truly have a positive impact on them for the rest of their lives.
I highly recommend becoming a Service Advocate at Salve Regina—it is a rewarding experience that you will forever remember about your time here at Salve. Hopefully, it will provide you with a perspective that you will be able to reflect on as you encounter challenges that others face daily, even beyond Aquidneck island after your senior year concludes!