In many ways, Bryant University reminds Sarah Sirois of the Marine Corps.
“It has the same vibes as a loving family. I feel like Bryant is my home away from home,” says Sirois, a Psychology major.
By day, Sirois is a part-time commuter working her way through the first year of her undergraduate career. By night, she’s a second shift public safety officer for the university. If you had asked her five years ago where she’d be today, studying and working at Bryant wouldn’t have come to mind.
As a Rhode Island native, Sirois grew up in Smithfield but didn’t know much about Bryant. When she got to high school, and college became a topic of conversation, Sirois decided higher education wasn’t the right path for her. She notes that a teacher encouraged her to speak with the Marine Corps when recruiters visited her school. After talking with the representatives, Sirois attended several workout sessions and joined the Delayed Entry Program in her senior year, which gave her one year to prepare for boot camp.
“Once I found out about the Marine Corps’ core values, what they stood for, and the brotherhood of it all, I knew I was going in,” says Sirois, who went on to work in supply and administration. “The people I was with shaped the whole experience. What’s nice about the Marines is even if you’ve met someone for the first time, you feel like you’ve been best friends since kindergarten.”
Sirois spent four years in the Marine Corps before finding her way to Bryant’s Department of Public Safety in 2020. She later enrolled as a student and, due to her veteran status, was able to take advantage of Bryant’s veteran resources and benefits.
On the job, Sirois interacts with students on a daily basis and, in 2022, became the handler of Archie, the university’s community comfort dog who lives with her. Together they respond to dormitory lockouts, mental health-related calls, and co-sponsor campus events that educate students on safe drinking and the dangers of drinking and driving; they also hold more casual gatherings where students can ask Sirois questions while enjoying free food. She notes that having Archie on the DPS team has helped break the barrier that public safety officers sometimes experience with students.
While Sirois jokes that her demeanor may not always make her seem like the most approachable person, she is always happy to help and be someone to lean on if students need to talk. Since she’s going through the same courses, tests, and midterms as others on campus, Sirois relates to the stress of college.
With this being her second semester, one of Sirois’ favorite classes has been “Introduction to Psychology” where students address the principles, theories, and research methods used to understand mental processing and behavior.
“I chose psychology because I love how intricate the brain is, and I wanted to know all about the ins and outs of how it works,” Sirois says. “I also wanted to study people’s behaviors and understand how certain brain disorders affect people.”
Balancing work and two courses a semester can be stressful, but she says she strives everyday toward earning a degree. Since Archie will still be of working age when she graduates, Sirois plans to continue serving as his handler for DPS. In the long term, she sees herself staying at Bryant, either in the public safety realm or another area of the university.
“I go back to Marine Corps roots where I take things day by day," Sirois says. "Don’t get discouraged because there’s going to be a lot of tough times, but you’ve got to take those bad days and keep going. In your mind, just keep picturing graduation and getting your degree.”