This is Privish: One Student’s Incredible Journey to Manor

April 19, 2018. The date tumbles from her lips effortlessly, without the need for examination or confirmation. She even knows the exact time: 3:00 pm. It’s her favorite date and her favorite memory. It is the day she, her mother, and her siblings were reunited with her father after four long years apart. “I was thrilled to see my dad after four years and tears of joy were in my eyes,” she remembers. “It was a celebration.” Privish Sadaqat is a current Manor student, finishing her first year of studies as a pre-science major. Within that short time, she has distinguished herself as an excellent student, both with her GPA and her appreciated presence in the classroom. “She’s a dream to have in class,” states Dr. Julie Senecoff. “Intelligent, modest, humble, outstanding, and respectful. She is intuitive and insightful. For Privish, simply knowing the answer to our questions in class isn’t enough. She wants to understand the intricacies of the why.” Door to Door Privish was born in Toba Tek Singh in the country of Pakistan in the province of Punjab, located in the central east side of the country. She is the oldest of four children, three girls and one boy. Her parents were social workers and Christians. Her formal education began when a small American nun knocked on her family’s door one day, looking for students for her school, the Convent of Jesus and Mary School. Sister Mary, known as Sister Mariam in Privish’s village, was reaching out to Christian families in the area to educate as part of her ministry. Privish was four. Initially, people in the village were afraid of Sister Mariam. There was little exposure to Catholics (Christianity is a minority religion in Pakistan), to Sisters, and to white people (her habit and grey eyes were unusual). Privish remembers being afraid. Laughing, she recalls: “When she came to house, I hid behind my mother because I was scared to see a different skin color—this is funny to me now!” The school was open to all village families and faiths, but Sister Mariam prioritized reaching out not only to Christian families but also to girls in the village, who had less opportunity for education than the boys. Privish was one of the foundational students to attend—the third admitted student—and she attended from kindergarten through tenth grade. “We struggled a lot in the early years. We faced so much persecution; our school even got stoned once. The Sisters were forced to close the school and move to another location.” The location of the school was changed a total of three times, for the safety of the students. Police response to persecutory incidents, at first, was slow. Yet, the Sisters and the families who attended Convent of Jesus and Mary School persisted. Perhaps this is why Privish identifies Job as her favorite book in the Bible. She identifies, she says, with struggle and coming out of struggle through consistency in belief and faith. Despite these tribulations, Privish notes that the opportunity that Sister Mariam brought was great and the families that sent their children did so for a superior education and better future. This willingness to take an educational risk for future benefits made for an open-minded and progressive atmosphere. An added bonus of attending Convent of Jesus and Mary School was exposure to English language and lessons that were more effective than even the larger, exclusive metropolitan schools. This proved fortuitous for the Sadaqat family, as eventually Privish’s father had to leave their village, alone, for his own safety. When the family was able to reunite in America, the language barrier was a minor issue. “Convent of Jesus and Mary School was a blessing for me and my town. What and where I am right now is due to that school and Sister Mariam.” Freedom & Opportunity Privish beams when she speaks of America and her family’s liberty in the United States. The differences between Pakistan and the U.S. are myriad and she lists them easily from climate and cuisine to clothing and family dynamics. What she returns to, though, time and time again, are the sovereignty and lack of constraint she feels as a woman. The first time she really felt the power of this freedom came in a simple moment: she was walking down the street, without a shawl, and no one looked at her because if it. “Living in Pakistan was definitely not comfortable, especially for women. There were not opportunities like education and other rights. There was no freedom to speak, even in clothing and where to go,” states Sadaqat. “[America] is a place where we can get freedom, independence, and a lot of educational opportunities. There is so much acceptance. America gives me my own dignity and gives me the confidence to fulfill my educational goals and empower me as a female.” Privish’s sister was actually the spark that set off her passion for Manor. She was helping Privish look for schools and found a small, Catholic college in Jenkintown—not far from their new-found home in Northeast Philadelphia. It seemed the perfect and providential fit. She applied and was accepted. And despite starting the semester just a bit late, she immediately started to thrive. Professor Julie Senecoff, PhD, remembered being a bit worried that Privish might have difficulty catching up, but soon realized that Privish’s determination and intellect would overcome those concerns. Christine Cortese, a chemistry instructor, shared these initial apprehensions. Cortese recalled: “When I first met Privish, I knew absolutely nothing about her. She was on my Chem 1 roster but missed the first class of the semester and arrived late to the second class. Her English was as clear as a bell and she came across as confident. I never would have guessed she had not grown up here… At the first test, she handed her completed test to me and said with a big smile on her face and a pause between each word, ‘My. first. American. test. ever.’ Read more >

Manor College Trustee, Colonel Robert DeSousa, Honored by the Federal Bar Association

Manor College Trustee, Colonel Robert DeSousa, was honored by the Federal Bar Association (FBA), which presented him with the Earl W. Kitner Award for Distinguished Service on September 7, 2019. The award is the highest granted by the FBA and is presented as a lifetime contribution award for long-term outstanding achievement, leadership, and participation in the association. “We are very happy for Col. DeSousa,” said Dr. Jonathan Peri, President of Manor College. “When he gets involved, he pours his heart in.  His exemplary dedication is a model in every place where he’s committed.” Colonel DeSousa has been a member of Manor College’s Board of Trustees since January of 2018.  In addition to his tireless work as a member of Manor College’s Board of Trustees, Colonel DeSousa is Senator Pat Toomey’s State Director and is a Judge Advocate General in the Pennsylvania Army National Guard. Colonel DeSousa has been a member of FBA for more than 25 years and served as national president for the institution from 2012-2013. He has led the FBA’s Veterans and Military Law Section and the Federal Career Service Division, as well as acting as a Charter Sustaining Life Fellow of the Foundation of the Federal Bar Association, the charitable arm of the FBA.

Manor Student Receives Scholarship from Catholic Philopatrian Foundation

Vet Tech student Caitlin Homanick was honored as a scholarship recipient at the Catholic Philopatrian Scholarship Foundation President’s Reception this past weekend. This was the 69th Annual Award Ceremony, and President Jonathan Peri was in attendance. “I have gone to Catholic School my whole life, which has taught me so much patience and devotion to others,” says Caitlin. “It became clear to me shortly after high school that my true passion was for helping animals who have been tortured or neglected.” The purpose of the Scholarship Foundation is to provide scholarship funding to the Catholic Colleges and Universities in the Philadelphia. Scholar candidates must be of the Catholic Faith; have proven commitment to academic success and achievement; and have financial need. Congratulations, Caitlin!  

Manor College Joins Hundreds of Institutions Urging Congress to Protect Dreamers

This week, on behalf of Manor College, President Jonathan Peri signed the American Council on Education’s letter urging Congress to protect Dreamers.  The letter advocates reasoned national-level discussions in support of finding a bipartisan solution to protect Dreamers.  It is being sent to the Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives and leaders of Congress. The letter is being signed by colleges and universities across the nation as a way to address an issue that is near and dear to the lives of many students. Dreamers are immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children, who have grown up knowing America as their home. Those covered under the DREAM Act would have the opportunity to earn citizenship by going to college, serving in the military, or maintaining a job. Manor College, along with other Higher Ed institutions, hopes to see permanent protections enacted for these high-achieving, undocumented youths.  Nationally, “the Association of Catholic Colleges & Universities (ACCU) has endorsed the letter,” noted Dr. Peri in a letter to the campus community. “As such, we join hundreds, maybe thousands of colleges and Catholic colleges in this endeavor.”