Though he fondly remembers trips to the local Blockbuster as a child, Stefan Puente ’17 (Fort Worth, Texas) never saw a future in film. He appeared as an extra in movies and spent several years working with an acting agency, but he always knew he was destined to a career in business, likely getting involved in the family real estate business. It wasn’t until he arrived at Providence College that his passion for film was realized. How he ended up at Providence College is part of his story, too.
Growing up, Stefan’s passion was ice hockey. He loved playing and dreamed of competing at the NCAA level. As he began his college search, his list of schools wasn’t necessarily one of smaller Catholic colleges, nor was it constrained to a geographic region. His list was largely driven by colleges and universities that offered Division I hockey. From the largest of Big Ten schools to the smallest member of Hockey East, Stefan considered any school with a rink on campus. When a representative from Providence College visited his high school, he just had to learn more. He loved what he heard, had a new first-choice school, was admitted, and enrolled … never having visited campus.
Making the trek from Texas to Rhode Island to begin his freshman year, Stefan and his family first dropped off his brother in Michigan and then made their way to the Ocean State. On Aug. 24, 2013, Stefan and his mother, proudly sporting a bedazzled Friar T-shirt, introduced themselves to PC for the first time, made the traditional trip to Target to stock up on essentials, and he was ready for his experience to begin. He had no idea what to expect but eased his transition by participating in Urban Action, a pre-orientation community service program for first-year students.
A student in the School of Business, Stefan was enjoying the business courses he was taking but knew those alone weren’t going to satisfy his creative side. He had heard about film courses from some upperclass students who facilitated the Urban Action program, so he decided to enroll in one. He quickly found an area that could sustain his interests long-term and added film as a minor during the fall of his sophomore year.
As his courses continued and Stefan analyzed a wide array of films from the comedic to the dark, opportunities began to arise outside of class that supported his passion. During winter break of his sophomore year, he participated in PC in Hollywood, an annual program that exposes students to the entertainment industry and alumni who work in it. The trip to California took him from the studio lot of Sony, where he met Bridget McMeel ’96, who shared information on the financing of film projects, to Sunset Gower Studios, where another PC alum met the group and introduced them to the industry.
Their trip included visits by Todd Slater ’97, a political science graduate who is one of the top consultants in the film industry; Peter Farrelly ’79, who majored in accountancy but has since produced There’s Something about Mary and Dumb and Dumber; and Charlie Jennings ‘04, an agent at Creative Artists Agency, one of the top agencies in the world.
Between two of the stops, Stefan was reading The Alchemist when he encountered the line “… whoever you are, or whatever it is that you do, when you really want something, it's because that desire originated in the soul of the universe. It's your mission on earth." The PC in Hollywood trip had allowed him to realize and begin to build a passion that was always in him.
In the months and years that followed, he committed to doing all that he could to support his creative side. He took all the film classes he could and created a submission for the Providence College Film Festival. He continued to correspond with many of the prominent alumni he had met on the trip, including one who continues to review scripts for him. He even parlayed one of his connections into an invitation to not just have one of his films shown at the International Film Festival in Hamilton, N.Y., but also to participate on a panel for students in business schools who have an interest in film.
With his final year at Providence College under way, Stefan has several film projects in process, including a 90-page script. He is working towards taking graduate studies at a film school, all while knowing that his business background will prepare him well for the production company he ultimately wants to start. As he reflects on who was most helpful over these past few years, his list spans campus, including individuals who work in offices ranging from career education to theatre and from film to alumni relations.
For a young man from Texas who hadn’t even stepped foot on campus before enrolling — and who never stepped foot on the ice — he remained open minded and learned how to get the most out of the resources available to him.