Mayor Honors RIC Student by Naming a Day After Her

Not many people have a day named after them. But RIC junior Janette Perez has been given that rare distinction.

For earning the 2013 Virginia Allan Young Careerist Award and distinguishing herself in service to her community, Perez received a written proclamation from Providence Mayor Angel Tavares that Sept. 28, 2013, was designated the Janette Perez Day. Gov. Lincoln Chafee also presented Perez with a citation of commendation.

As the Virginia Allan Young Careerist of Rhode Island, Perez represented the state at the Young Careerist Speak-Off hosted by the Business and Professional Women’s (BPW) Foundation Clubs of Rhode Island and the New England and Professional Women’s Clubs Past State President’s Association.

BPW is “the leading advocate for working women in the United States,” empowering them to achieve their full potential by providing opportunities for personal and professional development. Perez won the Speak-Off for her speech on the importance of the BPW and its program for women veterans. She was then named the Virginia Allan Young Careerist Representative of New England.

At 28, she is earning a bachelor of social work degree at RIC, while minoring in gender and women’s studies, and she is an ambassador for the college as a member of the Gold Key Society.

It is Perez’s achievements in community service that, perhaps, stand out the most. She has been an AmeriCorps volunteer, working for the Ready to Learn program and for the Providence After School Alliance at both Gilbert Stuart and Roger Williams Middle Schools. At the former, she created and implemented STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) curriculum. She has also interned at the Department of Children, Youth & Families Youth Transition Center/Juvenile Probation Office and volunteered for Build a Bed, Youth Build and at New Dimension’s Church, serving Thanksgiving dinner to the homeless.

“I want to be a part of my community,” Perez said. “I want to work with and help people. My mom raised me to help people.”

The cause that holds special meaning for Perez is helping single mothers reach their potential, which is why she hopes to establish a support group for mothers on RIC’s campus.

As the mother of a three-year-old, Perez understands the struggles student-mothers face. “As a mom you have to tend to the needs of your child,” she said. “There are times when I haven’t been able to do homework because my daughter needed me. There have also been times when I wasn’t able to attend class because my daughter was sick.”

But having the additional responsibility of parenthood also serves as a motivator, Perez said. “I feel that I have to work even harder to give my child a better life. I can’t give up. There are times when I just want to stop, but I stay focused because my daughter is looking up to me.”

Perez hopes to continue her education and pursue a master’s degree in social work. “I’m not sure exactly where I want to work, but I do know that I want to help single mothers connect to the resources they need,” she said.