Somravanh Litthisack ’09

SomravanhA Non-Traditional Student

Somravanh Litthisack didn’t have the usual college experience. She didn’t live on campus, pledge a sorority, or participate in extracurricular activities.

“I was pregnant at 17 but still determined to go to college, and URI was the best option for me,” said Litthisack, 28, who grew up in Providence and Cranston. “I took all my classes at the Providence Campus because it was an easier commute, and I wasn’t away from my son as much.”

She enrolled full time for two years beginning in 2000, then took off two years to have another child and later completed her degree part-time majoring in human development and family studies.

“I was a parent at such a young age that I had to grow up fast,” Litthisack said. “I’m a people person, and now I want to get involved to help others and show them how to get everything from housing to food to clothing.”

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While taking care of her sons and holding down a wide variety of part-time jobs, Litthisack made sure that community service was a key component of her education. A poverty class introduced her to homeless shelters and soup kitchens, where she spent many hours as a volunteer.

“The classes that provide these experiences outside of class were especially helpful and meaningful to me,” she said. “They never had to push me to visit these agencies. It gave me a chance to give back to the community and provided a sense of selflessness.”

As a volunteer at Asa Messer Elementary School in Providence, Litthisack served as a mentor to students, working with them in groups on math and other subjects.

During her final semester at URI, Litthisack interned at Prevent Child Abuse of Rhode Island. She helped in developing the Strengthening Families of Rhode Island initiative to teach childcare center workers and parental involvement groups to recognize signs of child abuse.

—Todd McLeish