Giving Thanks

In the spirit of tomorrow’s Thanksgiving holiday, all of us on the Holy Cross Admissions staff felt it important to share what we are thankful for this year.

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I am thankful for many things in my life: my husband, my children, and most importantly health for my entire family. But for this week…..I am thankful for Drew for thanking all of us for the work that we do and for making each and every one of us feel special.

Doreen Haverty, Administrative Assistant

I’m thankful for all of my AWESOME colleagues who have patiently answered all of my questions and made me love my new job!  

Ashley Johnson, Admissions Counselor

I’m most thankful for many things at this time of my life. First, I’m thankful for God and his abundant Grace that he pours out on my life each day. Second,  I’m thankful for my husband. Third,  I’m thankful for family & friends. Fourth, and most importantly, I’m extremely thankful for our Freedom and our Soldiers!

Trina Patten, Administrative Assistant

I am thankful for my wonderful staff!

Ann McDermott, Director of Admissions

I’m thankful for my health, my family, my special one and only granddaughter, my friends, and a roof over my head.

Pat McKeen, Receptionist

I am thankful for my children and grandchildren.  They bring a lot of joy to my life.

Gloria Villa, Operations Manager

I’m thankful for my family.

Katie Vadnais, Clerical Assistant

I am most thankful for my family (brothers and sisters as well as my children and husband).  I depend on them as much as they depend on me.

Eileen McCarron, Clerical Assistant

I’m thankful for the opportunity to be back on The Hill with the admissions team, my health, and my family. Oh, and of course, my dogs!

Madison Hebert, Admissions Counselor

I am thankful for students that have the guts to incorporate honesty, passion, and humor into their essays. 

Julia Sanders, Senior Assistant Director of Admissions

All of my Family, especially my son, Nicholas. My home. Second chances in life. Unconditional Friendships. The community and students of The College of the Holy Cross. Our Savior, Jesus Christ.

Shari Labovites, Administrative Assistant

Thankful I am healthy and still breathing!

Fr. Markey, S.J., Associate Director for Jesuit Relations

I’m thankful for my fellow admissions counselors, some of the coolest people I know. Thanks to them for inspiring me with their smarts, their creativity, and their dedication; for their support and encouragement when I take on new projects; for always making me smile and laugh, even after a long travel season or a tough day in committee. Because of them, I love what I do and look forward to coming to work every day.

Kate Gimourginas, Assistant Director of Admissions

I am thankful for all of the current students who donate their time to greet, give tours, and interview our prospective students and their families. Their willingness to share their experiences and love of the College reminds me daily that we are a part of a truly special community here at Holy Cross. 

Diane Soboski, Associate Director of Admissions

I’m thankful for the kind Holy Cross student who watched out for my 2-year-old in Hogan after he accidentally rode the elevator by himself from the 3rd to the 5th floor.

Lynn Verrecchia, Associate Director of Admissions

I am thankful for being a part of the Holy Cross Admissions team! 

Xiaofeng Wan, Assistant Director of Admissions

Thankful to work with creative and positive colleagues.

Dan Weagle, Assistant Director for Community Outreach

I am thankful for the work I do in the Admissions Office with fun and supportive co-workers; the Holy Cross students who stop by my office to chat and catch-up; the Perspectives Overnight Program memories and laughs; the friends, family, and food I’ll enjoy over the holidays; and the baby my husband and I are expecting in January.

Nancy Nelsen, Assistant Director for ALANA Recruitment

I’m thankful for co-workers that inspire, overtime victories and blue-frosted cupcakes.

Drew Carter, Associate Director of Admissions

All those in my life who laugh at my jokes, seek my advice, include me in their plans, and listen to my ideas. Oh, and the wonderfully magical power of coffee.

Zach Wielgus, Assistant Director of Admissions


From all of us in Holy Cross Admissions, have a safe, relaxing, and delicious Thanksgiving!

A “Hill” of a Nice Campus

6a00e54ed0db8e8833010536f8f30b970b-800wiBut what about the hill?

I am asked this question all the time.  All.  The.  Time.

I meet students who have researched Holy Cross, love the academic offerings, admire the culture and tradition and can’t wait to be a part of student life . . . “but what about all those stairs?”


I’ve offered so many responses to this question over the years:

–          What stairs?

–          You know, you do get to go down them sometimes, too . . .

–          Oh, it’s not THAT bad.

–          Have you heard about all our elevators?


Recently, though, I’ve thought more and more about it.

We love our college – not in spite of the hill but, in part, because of our hill.  Anyone who has witnessed a fall sunset from the Hart Center on top of the hill would never complain about the view they get from this hill.  Anyone who has endured a muggy spring day in May would never complain about the cool, spring breeze afforded to us on this hill.  Anyone who has gone sledding and finished their run just steps away from the hot chocolate in Kimball Dining Hall would never complain about the hill.

So, in the future, when applicants ask me about the hill, I now know how I’ll respond.

“I know.  It’s pretty great, isn’t it?”

Put the “y-o-u” in Essay

Kate Stewart
By the time you’re ready to actually apply to college, many of the pieces of your college application already are the way they are. You’ve taken the classes you’ve taken, you’ve earned the grades you’ve earned, you’ve been involved in activities that have been important to you, and your counselor and teachers have been reflecting on their relationships with you and starting to write their letters of recommendation. Essentially, your college application has been a work in progress for the past few years and at this point much of it is already– to a certain extent– out of your hands.

Sure, you might take the SATs one more time to see if your scores improve (though we’re test-optional at Holy Cross). You’ll continue working hard through senior year to keep your grades up (because we will see them). And hopefully, you’ve contacted us to set up a personal interview (we HIGHLY recommend this).

But one piece that’s still completely in your control and ready to be molded by you is your college essay.

This is great power, and it’s exciting! Consider the college essay an opportunity, and take full advantage of it. This is your chance to share something unique about yourself and to give us a glimpse into one aspect of your life that we wouldn’t otherwise have been fully privy to. We know you aced AP Calc and we know you’re captain of the soccer team and we know your teachers love you … but such is the case for many of our other applicants, too. So now let’s get personal. What wouldn’t we discover or understand about you just from reading your application? Let us in.

If you keep putting off the writing or are filled with dread every time you think about it, ask yourself why this is. Chances are, if you’re having difficulty getting started or making progress, your topic might not be as meaningful to you as you thought. Don’t write what you think we want to hear, write what matters to you. Start a couple of drafts on different topics, walk away, see which one you look forward to returning to the most, and stick with that one. A great personal essay often comes from a place of passion, pride, pain, amusement, nostalgia, curiosity, confusion, desire, joy, love. Write about what makes you tick, what gets you up in the morning, what brings tears to your eyes. Write about experiences that have changed you, relationships that have bettered you, accomplishments that have truly mattered to you, moments that have stayed with you, challenges you’ve overcome. Write about who you are and who you want to be.

The point is, write about YOU. You’ll notice that all five of the essay prompts on the Common Application direct you to write about yourself. So even though we are looking to evaluate the strength and style of your writing, please don’t send us the English paper you just got an A+ on. Boring! Make sure that the people who know you best would be able to read your essay and know it’s yours. Also make sure that if those people are helping you proofread and edit, don’t let their opinions influence you to the point that you end up losing “you” in the essay.

Finally, help make it easier on us admissions counselors by crafting a piece that’s interesting to read! Inject your voice, your personality, your creativity, and in some cases, your humor. A few comments we often make when we’re reading college essays:

  • “Show, don’t tell!” Illustrate the who, what, when, where, and why with details, examples, anecdotes, even dialogue.
  •  “Too thesaurus-heavy!” Don’t use words that are outside of your normal vocabulary. It will sound forced and unnatural.
  •  “Get rid of the first paragraph!” Don’t feel the need to have a formal introduction and conclusion with three neat topic paragraphs sandwiched in between. You have a limited number of words to use, so please just jump right in there and grab our attention.

Believe me when I say that we here on the admissions staff at Holy Cross love and appreciate the college essay. We look forward to getting to know you.

What to do in The Woo, Part I

JuliaSandersAs a Worcester native, and a representative of the Holy Cross admissions office, I spend a lot of time excitedly talking to prospective students about the city affectionately nicknamed “the Woo.”

There are many things that make Worcester an ideal college town and, over the next few months, I’d like to highlight a few of my favorites.  I hope this will benefit current Holy Cross students and future Crusaders alike.

So, without further ado, I give you the best of Worcester, installment one:


Question:  What should I do on a Saturday afternoon when there isn’t a football game?

Answer:  “WAM and Wooberry”

Start the day by taking the Consortium Shuttle to the Worcester Art Museum.  I love this museum because it is doable in one afternoon.  It’s a beautiful space that has a little of everything:  from ancient works to Van Gogh to Warhol.  It’s also free with your Holy Cross ID card.  Fun Fact:  A few scenes from David O. Russell’s widely anticipated film “American Hustle” were shot at the museum.

All that art-viewing is sure to leave you ready to indulge in a sweet treat.  A few short blocks away you’ll find the sweetest addition to the Highland Street corridor, Wooberry frozen yogurt.  Featuring an ever-changing assortment of flavors (Mango, Salted Caramel, and Pumpkin are just a few) , you’re sure to find something to make you smile.

Hope these suggestions help!  Feel free to call the admissions office if you’d like some more.

A Seasonal Playlist

Zachary WielgusMy life requires a soundtrack. More often than not, I have something playing in the background. While I’m working in my office, cleaning my apartment, going for a run, writing this blog … there’s something moving through the speakers.

Given that, as I spend many hours in the car getting from place to place during travel season, I have made an unofficial playlist for this time of the admissions year:



1)  ESPN Radio. The bickering and analysis of Mike & Mike greets me every morning. I drink coffee, listen to sports talk, and wake up on my way to my first stop.

2)  “We Were Us” by Keith Urban & Miranda Lambert. I heard an interview about making this duet while in Columbus, and now I can’t change to the station when it’s on.

3)  “Wrecking Ball” by Miley Cyrus. I’m not proud of it, but this thing is on all the time.

4)  “Every Little Thing is Gonna Be All Right” by Bob Marley. After answering many, many concerns about the Common App’s glitches from frantic applicants and counselors, this melody has become my go-to advice. Get lost in these words.

5)  “Out of My League” by Fitz and the Tantrums. A lucky find of a Minneapolis independent radio station introduced this song (and band) to me. Their whole album is great!

6)  “Radio” by Darius Rucker. I was lost in Tennessee when I first heard this new single. As a big Darius Rucker fan, it was three minutes of windows-down bliss in an otherwise stressful situation.

7)  “Roar” by Katy Perry. As word of a contest to win a Katy Perry concert by making a video to this tune got ‘round all-girls schools everywhere, I, too, got caught up in her new hook.

8)  “Sir Duke” by Stevie Wonder. After exhausting the country, top 40, and alternative rock stations, I rediscovered my appreciation for Motown. The horns in this song get me pumped for a visit!

9)  “Applause” by Lady Gaga. After a long day with a drive back to the hotel the final task, getting to blast Gaga’s return appropriately matches my mood. I don’t know most of the words, but at that point, it doesn’t matter.