Why I Chose Holy Cross and to become a Senior Interviewer

   

One role that I have on campus is as a Senior Interviewer in the Office of Admission. The reason why I wanted to become a Senior Interviewer and even come to Holy Cross in the first place are intertwined. Let me rewind to my senior spring in high school, in the midst of the decision-making process. I will be honest; I really did not know where I wanted to attend college. After countless college visits, all of the schools seemed to blend together, except for one – Holy Cross. Even still, the main reason that Holy Cross stood out to me was because my older sister attended the school, and I couldn’t decide if that was a good or bad thing at the time. However, there was a significant turning point in my college search that made Holy Cross stand out in a way which made me think it was the school for me.

 

The shift happened when I went on campus for my interview with the Admission Office. I was interviewed by a Senior Interviewer, one who made the interview feel more like a conversation, rather than a high stress situation. I remember leaving the interview thinking, “Was that REALLY an interview?” The interviewer made me feel so comfortable and at home, which opened my eyes and made me realize that those feelings spread beyond that office nestled in Fenwick. As I was walking around campus right after that interview, I realized that the Senior Interviewer reminded me of so many other Holy Cross students in the best way. Their friendly demeanor, their willingness to smile and hold the door open for me, even if I was quite some ways back, was apparent. They all looked happy to be on the Hill and to be part of the Crusader Community and I thought that was something I wanted to be a part of.

 

 As time passed and the deadline loomed, I started to think less and less about my decision and put more stock into how I felt, and I felt that Holy Cross was the place for me. It was thanks to the Senior Interviewer and all of the other friendly faces who make up the Holy Cross community that made me realize that Holy Cross was the place that I wanted to call home for the next four years. As a senior now with my days as a student dwindling down, I can say that they were some of the best of my life.  

 

 

Mike Peplowski ’20

 

Hey folks! My name is Mike Peplowski and I am a senior History major from Pittsfield, Massachusetts. Outside of the classroom I spend my time with organizations such as Working for Worcester, a student-run nonprofit, and programs such as Spring Break Immersion, to name a few. I am also on the Club Soccer team and love hanging out with my friends at Memorial Plaza (when it’s warm enough!).

Community Based Learning

 

          Community Based Learning (CBL) is an incredible program at Holy Cross and I think best represents the mission of the school. It gives students the opportunity to connect what is being taught in the classroom to the outside community, and incorporate the Jesuit mission of “Men and Women for and with others”. A professor can choose to make their course a CBL course which means the students are required to participate in a range of projects and direct service opportunities that meet community identified needs right here in Worcester. These courses are offered in a wide variety of disciplines and almost all students participate in a CBL course during their time at Holy Cross.

         I have participated in many different CBL courses which has opened my eyes to a whole other aspect of my education, and has allowed me to be more integrated in the Worcester community. During my first year at Holy Cross, one of my Spanish courses had a CBL component. Each week I would go to a high school in Worcester that had a large ESL (English Second Language) student population. Using my Spanish, I would help students with their homework and classwork. It was an opportunity to put my Spanish into practice, and to see the opportunities and value that come with studying Spanish. I ended up declaring the Spanish major at the end of this course

         As a sophomore, I took a Social Ethics course, which again, had a CBL component. For this course I went to Mercy Centre, an organization for adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities through Catholic Charities. I then completed a project connecting what I had learned at Mercy Centre to what I had learned in class. Thanks to this class, I continued to attend Mercy Centre throughout my time at Holy Cross. It opened my eyes to a whole new community in Worcester and allowed me to continue to incorporate the work of Mercy Centre into the goals of my other courses. This semester (2nd semester of senior year), I am in a Seeking Justice course. It is a course with a focus on the Jesuit mission of seeking justice during our time at Holy Cross. A lot of what we discuss and our experiences stem from our participation in CBL. This program has been one of the most impactful programs I have participated in during my time at Holy Cross.

 

Shannon Quirk ’20

 

Hi! I’m Shannon Quirk from Kensington, MD. I am a senior Economics and Spanish double major at Holy Cross. In addition to being involved in admissions as a Senior Interviewer and a Tour Guide, I am also involved in the Pre-Business program, a program outside of my majors to prepare for a career in business. I volunteer at the Mercy Centre through our Community Based Learning program, and I am the co-chair of the Women in Business Club. One of the highlights of my Holy Cross experience was spending my junior year studying abroad in León, Spain, fully immersed in the Spanish language and culture. I have loved my four years here, not only because of the incredible education and opportunities I have received, but also because of the community here on campus.

The Center for Career Development—Internships and Experiences

 

     One of the great resources we have on campus is the Center for Career Development which is a great place to explore future career paths. The center features valuable workshops, caring advisors and connections to helpful alumni. In my first year, I started by working on my resumé and connecting with an advisor. The resumé workshop was a great place for me to start so I could use that resumé to apply for internships and future jobs. I also was appointed an advisor based on my interests and placed in the Health Professions and Life Sciences Career Community. Within my first semester, I was getting involved in the Career Center and making myself a competitive job applicant.

         A unique opportunity Holy Cross offers is the Alumni Job Shadowing Program. This program runs during fall break, winter break, and spring break. Within this program, Holy Cross students apply to shadow an alumnus in a field that they are interested in. The Career Center matches students based on their career pursuits and location. I was matched with a physician that I was able to shadow for a day, which allowed me to meet his patients, watch his interactions and see how the healthcare field works in a private practice. For me, it was helpful to watch the fast-moving day as well as ask questions to the Holy Cross graduate. Not only did I make an amazing connection with an alumnus, but he also connected me to a few other Holy Cross graduates who also were willing to answer any questions I had. After only one full semester at Holy Cross, I had already found the value in using The Center for Career Development.

         During the academic year, The Center for Career Development also hosts networking events on campus. They invite alumni from various fields and graduation years to come back to campus to meet with students to talk about their career paths and provide advice. These were always helpful events to hear questions answered by the panelists, while also giving students the opportunity to network after the panel session. I enjoyed having the opportunity to talk with alumni and learning more about where they work and how their journey has progressed. Our online program, Handshake, allows students to look for jobs and internships, as well as communicate with the Holy Cross Center for Career Development advisors.

         During my junior year, I knew I wanted to secure an internship for the following summer. The search for this internship started early and was aided by the help of the Center for Career Development. Finding the perfect internship would give me the proper experience to grow and improve my skills. In the fall of my junior year, I applied for the Crusader Internship Fund. This is a wonderful opportunity for rising juniors and seniors at Holy Cross to receive funding for unpaid internships. The Crusader Internship Fund is supported by alumni and generous parents to help students gain experience and connections through summer internships. I applied for the Crusader Internship Fund before I even found my internship. In April of my junior year, through the help of a former Holy Cross graduate, I accepted an internship at Sargent Rehabilitation Center in Warwick, Rhode Island. Sargent Rehabilitation Center helps children ages 3-to-21 years old who are struggling with severe learning disabilities often related to neurological impairment, such as autism and seizure disorders. I loved going into my internship each day and gaining new work experiences. Through my internship, I realized my desire to work with children in a healthcare setting. I am thankful to the Center for Career Development and our connection with wonderful alumni for helping to set up my internship and teaching me something new every day.

 

Meaghan Murray ’20

 

My name is Meaghan Murray and I am from Narragansett, Rhode Island. I am a senior biology major and environmental studies minor. On campus, I am involved in admissions as a senior interviewer and campus tour guide. In addition, I am also part of the campus liturgical ministry and I work at the Luth Athletic Complex. I am interested in pursuing a career in healthcare, either nursing or occupational therapy. Over my years at Holy Cross, I found healthcare to be my interest in career choice through internships, shadowing and conversations with alumni.

 

 

How I Found Myself in Holy Cross’ Jesuit Identity

 

Coming from a Jesuit high school in Houston, Texas, I came to Holy Cross thinking I knew where to look for the Ignatian spirituality and close community I’d loved back home. I was excited to hang out in Campion House and enjoy the warm cookies baked daily for students on campus. I’d go to Mass on Sunday nights and I’d sign up for the first year retreats everyone was talking about. These were all great ideas, but I was missing the core of what Jesuit spiritual identity is: being with others and living in community.

For starters, I didn’t even know where to begin looking. Literally, the first time I walked up to the Chaplain’s house, I couldn’t find the entrance. It’s on the side of the hill, past the cemetery, up from Loyola. The door IS the one that’s right past the steps in on the side of the house. But, I, in my confident, assured way, knew that couldn’t possibly be the door to a student space. That looked too much like a home.

It took 3 weeks of me passing by and waiting to see someone else go in the door, before I allowed myself to follow them.

I like to think of this experience as a metaphor for my entire spiritual journey in college. I came in thinking God would be in this one place, and when I couldn’t find him there, I didn’t know where to look. The problem wasn’t that the Jesuit identity or community was missing, but that I couldn’t see it, even when it was right in front of me.

Holy Cross’ Jesuit identity extends far beyond the pews in St. Joseph’s chapel. One of the greatest examples of this came in my first semester at Holy Cross, when I participated in a solidarity rally in Worcester, the night the city was deciding how to move forward on legislation declaring Worcester would not be a sanctuary city for migrants. I and hundreds of other protestors, including multiple buses full of Holy Cross students, stood outside of City Hall, chanting, “Immigrants are welcome here!” over and over again. When I turned around, I recognized a familiar face, Fr. Boroughs, the president of our school wearing a thick down puffer coat. He wasn’t there as a political or religious leader, he was there as a person whose voice was equal to all of ours, in solidarity with the community. 

To me, this is the example I would like to recognize and live by. Knowing that his voice as a community member who listened first and spoke when called to do so, Fr. Boroughs exemplified the power of humility and solidarity. Jesuit identity means being drawn into the community, not just as a leader but sometimes as a voice among the crowd. The greatest lesson I learned at Holy Cross was not just how to lead, but to listen, and to use my voice where it can do the most good. I am proud to be a woman for and with others. 

Throughout my four years at Holy Cross, my faith has grown in ways I never expected: through the contemplative and reflective questions asked in each of my classes, to the conversations I had with new friends in Kimball, to my days spent studying abroad in Italy and Perú, to the care each and every professor had for me in their classes. And now as I look back on my time at Holy Cross, I can only hope to use what I have learned not only in Loyola Chapel and in my classes, but also that day in front of city hall, to go forth and set the world on fire.

 

Johanna Mackin ’20

Johanna Mackin is a senior Political Science major with a self-designed Migration Studies minor and a Latin American, Latinx, and Caribbean Studies concentration. She is from Houston, Texas and spent junior year abroad in Italy and Peru. On campus, she is involved in the Office of Admission as a greeter, overnight host, and a retreat leader.

Food Allergies and Dietary Restrictions

 

Growing up with food allergies, I always was focused on eating as many home cooked meals as possible. I brought my lunch to school every day, and knew whatever my Mom had made for me would be safe to eat. Knowing I couldn’t take that with me to college, I was definitely a little scared to see what it would be like navigating food allergies in college. 

Fortunately for me, Holy Cross has one of the most student-friendly and well-run food allergy programs in the world. Right from being accepted to the school, I was able to work with school dietitians, the Office of Accessibility Services, and Holy Cross Dining to make sure I had the necessary accommodations so that my food allergies wouldn’t inhibit my college experience. At Holy Cross, students with food allergies are able to order “a la carte” what they would like to eat the next day, and when they would like to pick it up. With both takeout and dine in options for me at Kimball Dining Hall, my food allergies have never been easier to manage. 

The team of chefs Holy Cross dining employed to make meals tailored to my dietary needs constantly went above and beyond to make sure that I not only had safe food to eat, but also I had the best tasting food on campus. I cannot thank them enough for how much they’ve done for me over these last four years. 

 

James Neville ’20

James is a senior Political Science major with a concentration in Peace and Conflict Studies from New Canaan, Connecticut. On campus, he’s part of the Admission Office as a tour guide and senior interviewer, the co-chair for Pax Christi, and Holy Cross Rock Climbing Club. He participated in the Washington DC semester and interned at the State Department within the Office of Russian Affairs. He also participated in the Moscow Maymester program, interned at Save the Children, and is a member of the National Political Science Honors Society. After graduation, James is working at Heidrick and Struggles. 

Choosing a Major

 

Hi everyone! My name is Michaela Lake, I am a sophomore Psychology major at the College, working as a Social Media Intern for the Admissions Office.  I have noticed through talking to prospective students and parents, and working our Open House, that a lot of students are curious about the process of declaring a major, and what exactly that process looks like here at Holy Cross. I know personally that choosing a major can be stressful, and looks different from college to college, so I thought I would share more of what the process looks like here.

All first-year students come into Holy Cross their first semester undeclared. This allows students to explore different academic disciplines across departments, helping solidify an academic interest, ultimately helping plan the next three years at the College. Personally, I found this to be very beneficial to my academic track, and relieved some of my stress about my first year. Coming in undeclared allowed me to feel less pressure and constraint on what I could study, and allowed me to take a variety of classes across my different interests. In my first semester on the Hill, I was able to take an Education course, as well as a Political Science class, and get a better sense of what I was passionate about, and what classes and academic track that would fit my passion. Even though coming in undeclared can seem overwhelming, it is actually a really nice benefit for first year students, not having to stay on one track from the onset of their first semester through graduation.

At the beginning of their first semester, first-year students consult and meet their first-year advisors. First-year advisors are an awesome resource for students, especially when it comes to deciding a major; they are here to get to know you and your interests, and are there to help facilitate your academic track. Advisors check in throughout the semester, and are available to answer any questions or concerns about classes, alleviate any stress, and talk to students about their interests. First-year advisors can direct students’ questions to other departments if they are unsure of an answer themselves, and can recommend what classes to take or professors to talk to going forward at Holy Cross. I can safely say my first-year advisor was a great resource for me, answering my questions about different classes and programs, and made me feel confident going forward in my academic track at Holy Cross.

Classes first semester of freshman year are a great way to guide any sort of interest a student would have. A part of why I personally chose Holy Cross was the liberal arts education, something that gave me the most academic freedom. As I wrote earlier, I took a variety of classes my freshman year, and this was a great way for me to decide on my academic track at Holy Cross. Part of the beauty of the Liberal Arts curriculum is that students can take a variety of courses while also fulfilling course requirements for graduation. Taking a breadth of courses across disciplines, especially in a student’s first year, satisfies the requirements of our liberal arts curriculum, while also providing the opportunity to explore what exactly they want to major in.

Going to college allows for students to pursue their academic interests with more freedom for the first time, something that can seem overwhelming. 

My advice to incoming students at Holy Cross is to take introductory-level courses that spark your interest. For example, if you are considering majoring in Economics, take a 100-level course and get a sense of what an academic track as an Economics major would like. Loved your French class in high school? Take a French class! Enroll in classes that spark your interest, and this will help facilitate a sense of what you would like to take going into the rest of your experience at Holy Cross. 

The best advice I could give to prospective and incoming students regarding selecting a major is do not feel like there is a rush to declare. Students at Holy Cross can declare as early as their second semester freshman year, and can change their major at any point through the end of their second semester of their sophomore year. The best thing students can do to solidify what major they should pursue is to take their time, explore any possible interests, communicate with their advisors, and keep an open mind heading into their college experience. Enjoy your academic freedom, and an academic track will become clear!

 

Michaela Lake ’22

Spring Break Immersion Program

 

Holy Cross as a Jesuit school teaches the message of becoming men and women for and with others, emphasizing the importance of service. While Holy Cross offers plenty of opportunities to conduct service on campus and in the city of Worcester, an opportunity unique to the school is the chance to travel over spring break to another part of the country, serving a community beyond just Mount St. James. 

Every year, the Chaplains’ Office organizes the Spring Break Immersion Program, or SBIP, an opportunity for students to travel to serve different communities across the country, ranging in sites from Kentucky, Alabama, to Colorado. The purpose of these trips is to conduct direct service and foster connections with other communities,  immersing yourself in a life different than your own. Every year, around 250 students travel in student-led groups, working in churches, schools, community centers, soup kitchens and different community landmarks across the different sites. 

Last March, I got to travel to Narrows, VA through SBIP (fun fact-Dirty Dancing was filmed there!). I was the only freshman in my group, travelling with nine other students to serve the town of Narrows. Although this trip was daunting, as I was the only first-year in my group travelling with people I had never met before, this wound up being the most rewarding and affirming experience of my first year at Holy Cross.

During my trip, my group and I stayed at the Narrows Parks and Recreation Center, and worked at different sites in town. Each day was different, and each of us were able to work in a variety of service activities. We worked with the librarian in the town public library, helping renovate the library, rearranging and reconstructing shelves, organizing the books and reordering the books on the shelves under a new system of organization. We also got to work with town municipal workers, building park benches and trash can holders to be used throughout the town park grounds. Since Narrows is located in the Appalachian region, we were able to hike some of the trails and help clear debris with a local guide, making sure trails were safe for tourists. Through my service, I got to do things I never thought that I would have the chance to do, and got to become immersed in a beautiful town I never would have travelled to if it had not been for SBIP.

My group and I also had the chance to get to know the community beyond our service. Every night, different churches would host potluck dinners, serving delicious homemade food. We would eat with community members, and they were so kind and eager to get to know us. I still keep in touch with some members through social media, and will cherish the connections I made there outside of the service for the rest of my Holy Cross experience. The town not only fed us, but entertained us as well. Every night we were invited to a town event to further immerse us within the community. My group and I got to go to a Haunted House organized by the town, did karaoke, and we even went to a performance by a local lawyer who also worked as a children’s party entertainer as a magician and balloon animal artist. My experience was something I will never forget, fostering these unique connections with a community that was so generous and kind, shaping my experience beyond just the service aspect of the trip. 

These connections with other communities are as important as the ones you make with other Holy Cross students. You form a strong connection with other students you may not have met outside of SBIP, bonding with one another through this experience in a way that is different to other connections you make on campus. Every night, to conclude your day, you reflect upon the day’s work and experience with your group members, making sure you get the most out of every aspect of your trip, deepening your bond with your group members. This bond does not exist solely during the trip, but gets carried back to campus. I still stay in frequent contact with my group, despite three of our members having graduated, and some members currently studying abroad.

Spring Break Immersion is something unique to Holy Cross, and oftentimes can be overlooked by students. It is an opportunity not many schools offer, and is something that many students identify as a Holy Cross Bucket List experience. I can say with complete confidence that this experience was the best experience I have had at Holy Cross thus far, deepening my commitment to the school and to service. 

 

Michaela Lake ’22

Get Involved!

One of the biggest questions prospective students and parents ask when coming to Holy Cross for the first time is “what do Holy Cross students do for fun around campus?” While Holy Cross is an academically rigorous school, students still have plenty of opportunities to engage in activities non-study related, and make the most of their spare time here on campus. 

Some students coming into Holy Cross are coming in as athletes who still want to continue to play their sport, just not at the varsity level. Getting involved with Club or Intramural sports is a great way many students get acclimated to campus, as well as meet other students. At the beginning of each academic year, students receive emails from Campus Recreation detailing tryouts and meetings for different club sports, and meeting times to sign up for Intramural sports. Intramural sports run every quarter, with teams ranging from dodgeball to flag football. Students can form a team themselves and compete once a week in an on-campus league. Holy Cross also offers a variety of different Club sports, ranging from Club Equestrian to Club Soccer. Club sports practice two-three times per week for one-two hours, with occasional games on the weekends. I am a member of the Club Field Hockey team here at the College, and I find this to be a totally manageable and fun commitment. Joining Club Field Hockey helped introduce me to other people on campus I would not have met before joining, helping me make some of my current friends, and gave me the opportunity to continue to play the sport I love beyond high school. 

Holy Cross also has opportunities for students to continue to pursue their musical interests as well. There are many different a capella groups students can audition for, or students can join the different choirs at the College as a way to get involved as well. Holy Cross has an orchestra, a pep band, a marching band, and a jazz band students can join to continue practicing their instruments, and evolve their musical abilities. Music groups on campus perform for the student body with a cappella performances in the Student Center on weeknights, and performances throughout the year by our college bands and choirs. Students can also get involved with our campus radio station, WCHC 88.1 FM and host their own radio show, channeling their interest in music with a personalized radio show.

Beyond athletic and musical interests, Holy Cross has plenty of clubs where students can grow their interests. There are political groups on campus, Mock Trial and mock court organizations, service organizations on campus like SPUD,SGA senate, dance teams, theatre groups, and religious groups, like Pax Christi and bible study opportunities for students who wish to explore their religious interests. Students at Holy Cross have plenty of opportunities to explore any interests they may have, allocating time for non-work related activities that help them meet new people, and get more involved in the campus community. I have found that extracurriculars and clubs on campus have helped me branch out and become more deeply invested in my Holy Cross community and experience, helping me transition and succeed at the College.

 

~ Michaela Lake ’22

Unplug, Unwind, and Discern

Olivia Hastie ’22

 

One of the many life-giving experiences at Holy Cross is the Spiritual Exercises Retreat. Students from all faith backgrounds and communities sign up to partake in this experience because it offers a peaceful environment to rest and reflect.   A brief description of the Exercises as written on the Holy Cross Retreats webpage

What do you desire? What is God inviting you to? How do you integrate your faith with decisions you make in your life? What are the movements of your heart? Do you desire freedom and inner peace? An adapted version of the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola, founder of the Jesuits, this five-day silent retreat is an opportunity for reflection and prayer. In silence, you will be given the opportunity to reflect more deeply about your faith, the power of God’s love for you and your relationship to others. In addition, time for personal prayer and reflection and liturgies, thematic talks are given by the Chaplain retreat directors to help assist in your faith journey.”

This five day silent retreat offers students an opportunity to unplug, unwind, and discern where their Holy Cross education is taking them. As a sophomore making lots of decisions like where to study abroad, what to major in, and where my Holy Cross education is taking me, I thought fall break would be the perfect time to attend. I had also never been to the Thomas P. Joyce ‘59 Contemplative Center  and was feeling a little bit left out of that part of my Holy Cross experience. I’m so glad I ended up deciding to participate. 

I knew a little bit about the Exercises from classes I had taken and my general knowledge of the Jesuits. Though challenging, the silence was a beautiful way to experience discernment and contemplation. I’ll also add that throughout the five days, each day contains four sessions where you hear and learn about the actual exercises of Ignatius. Each day participants also have the chance to meet with a Spiritual Director to talk about where he or she is in her faith journey and what he or she is looking to accomplish on the retreat. Realistically it’s not complete silence. There’s also lots of individual activities, like painting, hiking, and playing instruments.

The retreat also takes you through the Jesuit concept of finding and knowing God. Over the course of the five days, I experienced several moments where my vision of God changed. Instead of seeing God as a higher power, I started to see God as a friend walking with me through life. This is one of the many revelations I experienced on retreat. Other people go on the retreat to begin their relationship with God, and others go to be still. It was particularly moving to watch the sunrise each morning and remind myself that there is something greater than I out there. The experience was overwhelming life giving, reminding me to take time to be still and be reflective.

Overall, it was an exceptionally moving experience. Students from any faith background can have a moving experience of the exercises. Spending five days unplugged and silent helped me not only grow in faith but grow in my own self-knowledge. I took time to think about what the future may hold and how I want to spend my next two years at Holy Cross. I’m looking forward to hopefully going again senior year and using the time to pray and think about my own life in a different way.

The Allegory of Committee

 

Much like the people depicted in Plato’s Republic, my colleagues and I have recently spent a great deal of time in a dark space looking straight ahead. However, while the protagonist in the “Allegory of the Cave” is forced to grapple with the meaning of shadows, statues, fire, and sunlight, the Holy Cross admission staff has pondered over academic rigor, personal statements, interview notes, and letters of recommendation. Having just completed our admission committee process for the Class of 2023, it feels like the right time to reflect on our work and the work of our applicants…through a liberal arts lens, of course.

While Plato’s cavemen and cavewomen view the shadows on the wall as their one true reality, Holy Cross’ admission counselors never lose sight of the fact that our applicants are more than what can be seen on our projector screens. Through interviews, essays, recommendations, and conversations, we strive to know each applicant on a personal level so that we can fully understand and evaluate the essence of every individual.

I can’t tell you how happy we are to walk out of our cave committee room and interact with the Holy Cross Class of 2023 during Admitted Student Day in April. We are thrilled to watch new students join us for summer orientations and to see the impact that each new Crusader will have on our campus over the next four years. Like Plato’s philosopher who is initially blinded by the sun, first days on the Hill will be marked by adjustment and awakening. Fortunately, the education that you will receive and the experiences that you will have atop Mount Saint James will ultimately transform you and point you towards the Form of the Good in life.

 

-Tom McHugh