Whether you’re an immigrant from Pakistan or a nursing student from the Philadelphia suburbs, Manor College has a home for you.
In the final days of summer, Lauren Raspanti BSN, RN puts the final touches on her second-floor office at Manor College. Gone are the days when students at the college only stopped by when they got sick.
She’s turned her desk around, reorganized the shelving and even wears brighter colored clothing aiming to create a more welcoming environment. Since first stepping on the Manor College campus as a student in 2014, the school made Raspanti feel like part of a family and she’s hoping to bring the same culture to the current students of the college.
“I want to help people in all times of wellness,” said Raspanti, the institution’s Director of Health Services. “I want students to feel like they can come in here at any time, even when there’s nothing wrong.”
Privish Sadaqat moved to America from Pakistan two years earlier and, despite being a good student, the culture shock of a new life waned on her confidence.
While Pakistan had four seasons, she’d never seen snow until living in Northeast Philadelphia. The culture and food were so different that ordering a pepperoni pizza was difficult and new. In school, the language barrier made her feel like she couldn’t compete against American students.
Her cultural isolation felt the most present during college visits. When she arrived at Manor College in 2016, she knew the fit was perfect.
“As an immigrant, everyone is scared when they come to this country due to the culture shock,” Sadaqat said. “But at Manor, I just felt secure in every way possible. This was the place for me.”
These two Manor College graduates from varied backgrounds – Sadaqat from Pakistan, Raspanti from the Philadelphia Suburbs – quickly realized that while Manor College was a great culture fit for their personalities and backgrounds, it was also the most affordable option too.
“There were plenty of times that I could just walk into a professor’s office and just talk about everything, not just about classwork but about life as well,” said Raspanti, who graduated with her Associates of Science in 2016. “You can’t find that sort of thing at a bigger school.”
Sadaqat, who graduated with her Associate’s Degree in Pre-Science in 2020, added, “It didn’t matter if you were the chemistry professor or the Dean of Arts and Sciences, the professors at Manor College were so engaging with students and made sure they got to know you.”
Manor’s excellence extended into the classroom, too. While in nursing school, Raspanti remembers being ahead of classmates because of the amount of anatomy classes she took during her time at Manor.
“There were people that went to other, larger schools that had no clinical skills,” Raspanti said. “Manor gave me the tools to I need to succeed. I knew so much about anatomy from here that we were able to recite how the blood goes through the heart and it helped so much to understand that stuff going into nursing school.”
The key for Sadaqat was one-on-one time with professors, whether that meant spending time reviewing in the classroom or just receiving some praise at the right moments.
“If they didn’t take the time to encourage me, I don’t think I’d have been able to complete a grade,” Sadaqat said. “They believed in me before I ever did. They made my foundation really strong and made me able to stand on my own.”
Manor College bonds go well beyond the days spent on Fox Chase Road. It’s evident in the friendships that alumni still have with their fellow graduates and professors.
“Teachers aren’t just teachers,” Sadaqat said. “There’s this family orientation there that, especially for an immigrant, can make an impact on your life.”
It’s that family bond that brought Raspanti back to Manor College as a staff member in 2020.
“I loved my time at Manor and when this position became available, I jumped at the opportunity to come back,” Raspanti said.
This Fall semester will be the first for Raspanti with students back on campus full time, having spent her first year in the role amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s an opportunity for her to extend Manor’s inclusive culture to the next generation.
“I’m not just here to do my job, check off tasks and leave,” Raspanti said. “I want to sit down with students and help them. I want to be personable with everyone because that’s how it always was for me at Manor and I want our new students to feel that, too.”