WEST KINGSTON — Although two decades have passed since Sarah Thomas Tracy graduated from Assumption College in Worcester, Mass., the religious studies teacher at The Prout School proudly returns to her alma mater with regularity as a way of giving back to the school for the Catholic values it helped instill in her.
Tracy, who last year won Assumption’s Outstanding Alumna Award, takes every opportunity to share with her students the impact that a Catholic higher education had on her.
“I was looking for a place where I could be an individual. I just fell in love with the campus,” said Tracy, who herself graduated from a public high school.
“The fact that it was a Catholic School was important. Academically, it was a great school, and it had a wonderful Catholic Christian community.”
Tracy, who along with her husband Phil is a parishioner at Christ the King Parish, Kingston, graduated from Assumption College in 1980, with a double major in Religious Studies and Rehabilitation Studies.
She then went on to Boston College to earn a master’s degree in Pastoral Ministry.
‘The theologians I studied with were incredible,” Tracy remembers of her educational experience.
After graduating, she spent a year in El Paso, Texas working in parish youth ministry.
She then returned to Rhode Island, where she served for the next four years as program coordinator at the St. Dominic Savio Youth Center. Tracy also planned retreats for the diocese.
It was then, it the late 1980s, that Tracy was drawn in a different direction.
“God called me in a different way,” she said.
Tracy went to work for Fleet bank as assistant vice president of human resources.
In 2004, she left the corporate world to return to youth ministry.
She soon took a position as a religious studies teacher at Prout, where she also teaches Scripture, with a focus on the Old Testament.
“I just feel I’ve been called to do this. I just love working with young people,” Tracy said.
She feels that with students leading lives that are busier now than ever, families need extra support to help them ensure their children are keeping their priorities in perspective.
She feels a tremendous responsibility in her role at Prout to introduce students to the faith and spiritual side of God, making sure they develop a strong and lasting foundation based on Catholic values.
She offers her help to students as they search for the college or university they will attend after graduation.
Above all, she advises her students to relax, no matter how stressful the process might become.
Some students have come to her bewildered about the array of choices before them.
She advises them to visit the campus of any prospective school whenever possible to see if they feel truly at home there as she did at Assumption.
“When you visit the college, you’ll know,” she advises them.