Autumn on Mount St. James


From crisp fall weather to apple cider in Kimball Dining Hall, autumn is my favorite season on Mount St. James! Below I’ll tell you about some of my favorite parts of the season at Holy Cross:


Kimball Dining Hall’s Fall Fest

Every autumn, Kimball hosts “Harvest Fest,” an event where all of the dining facilities on campus serve fall-themed foods and drinks such as apple cider, cider donuts, pumpkin spice lattés, caramel apples, and more. I LOVE apple cider, which is one of the main reasons why I love fall on the Hill so much!! 



Halloween is a super fun (and spooky) time to be a Holy Cross student. We are the only college that I know of that has a cemetery on campus (for Jesuits) which creates a spooky ambiance. One tradition I enjoy is the Healy Haunted House. My residence hall, Healy, plans this interactive event for all students to attend! I’m one of the Co-Presidents of Healy, so I had a lot of responsibility for planning the Haunted House. It was definitely a success!


Family Weekend

Family Weekend is a great way for students to decompress from the hustle and bustle of the semester with their families and friends.  This year was particularly special for me because my grandparents visited from my hometown: Brockton, MA. There were plenty of events that were planned we had a lot to choose from. When they first arrived, we went to the Hogan Campus Center and they got adorable purple “HC Grandparents” pins! We later ate lunch in Kimball and my grandmother loved the soft serve vanilla ice cream. After lunch, we went to the Holy Cross football game versus Georgetown—and we won!


Overall, fall is a fun, spooky, and exciting time to be on Mount St. James. Not to mention, our campus is incredibly beautiful during this season!!


written by Gabby Caceres ’20

HC for a Cure


Curious as to what clubs and organizations our students are involved with on campus? Learn more about what tour guide, Meltem Eracar ’19, does as a member of Holy Cross for a Cure.


Holy Cross for a Cure is a student-run organization whose main goal is to raise awareness and money for cancer research. Our club mainly focuses on raising awareness through athletic events. If we want students or the public to know more about HC for a Cure, join the organization or donate through purchasing one of our t-shirts, then this is most easily done at sporting games where there are usually many people attending. Other times, we have mini competitions that are hosted at games to help get students, parents, and all spectators involved while also spreading the word about our club. My involvement is typical to almost everyone else’s in the club, I volunteer a few hours of my time during each of our events, which are usually hosted a handful of times throughout the year.

The reason why I joined HC for a Cure is because I was involved with something similar during my time in high school. Every fall, all athletes at my high school would participate in a program called “Play for the Cure”, which is very similar to “HC for a Cure”. Our athletes, including myself, would bake various desserts and on this specific day, would sell them to students and parents attending the games. Through this event, we raised awareness and money for the Dana-Farber organization and other organizations who are in need. The reason that this event was so special to me was because my volleyball coach at the time had a mother who was diagnosed with breast cancer. She really appreciated the time and effort that our high school put in for such a great cause. It really helped to bring the coaches and students together. When I heard that there was an entire club at Holy Cross devoted to this kind of fundraising throughout the school year, I knew that I had to join in order to help make a difference for anyone who has been affected by cancer.


July for Juniors Tip #11: Relax

All of this college application stuff can take its toll on your physical, emotional, and psychological health. Remember to take some time for you. Go for a run, watch a movie, or spend time with friends and family.  It’s okay…you can tell your parents I told you to do this, and I am a bona fide Admissions Counselor who reads applications and votes on application decisions. At Holy Cross, we believe that a relaxed applicant is a confident applicant. This is not the crossroads of your life, even though it may seem that way at times. You are not defined by where you get accepted (or rejected…or waitlisted). You can always transfer, go to graduate school, take a gap year, or better…..become successful despite not getting into your top pick, and end up putting your alma mater on the map as a result. What truly defines you as a person is not what cards you are dealt, but how you play them. You will play yours most efficiently if you are able to roll with the punches and take everything in stride. Keeping the college search in perspective is probably the most important piece of that!

July for Juniors Tip #8: Reach out


Reaching out to teachers and counselors for letters of recommendation or advice early helps both you and them.  Teachers and counselors get busy during the year and it would advantageous to ask them ahead of time.

At least two letters of recommendation are application requirements for most schools. These letters are important and can help us learn a lot about applicants that we wouldn’t otherwise have known: “Cecil had a rough junior year because we implemented a new social studies curriculum, and we noticed grades drop for many of the students. Still, he remained in the top 10% of his class.” Or, “Kelly stopped playing soccer last fall because she has been volunteering with student council and spends 10 hours after school each week planning and organizing activities for their annual holiday bazaar.”

There’s nothing worse than a flat letter of recommendation. “Mike was always on time and prepared for class.” Yawn. Is this the best praise you can get from your teachers? We expect you to be on time and prepared. Show us how you went above and beyond expectations. This means asking a teacher who really KNOWS you and can vouch for all the hard work you put in both in and outside of the classroom. Really put some thought into your selection. Maybe spend some time with that person before the letter is written to give him/her/them a better sense of who you are as a student and a person. You want their words to be glowing! Also, please remember to ask for a recommendation early. You want to make sure to give them enough time to write the letter– your teachers, counselors, and coaches are all very busy people!

July for Juniors Tip #4: Show interest

In the application process, it’s important to indicate your interest in the school(s) to which you are applying. Get (and keep) in contact with the colleges you are interested in. Contact can be in person, through a formal or informal visit to the school (be sure to sign-in with the office), via phone or email.

If we see that applicants have been in contact with us then we are going to have a better sense of their interest in the College. Psychology and propinquity theory are at work here…even on a subconscious level.

So get in our heads…for the right reasons, and stay informed of new developments at the school as well as possible updates to the application process that we may announce. It’s easy to do and the returns are well worth it!

July for Juniors Tip #3: Deadlines

Summer is a great time to research important dates and information regarding admissions (such as application deadlines, financial aid requirements, and/or test optional policies). Make sure you are aware of all of these key pieces of information–particularly deadlines–as they will likely be different for each of the schools to which you are applying.

For example, does a school on your list recommend interviewing? At the College of the Holy Cross, we love it when students interview! It gives us a chance to get to know our applicants better, and it gives them a chance to get to know us as well. Try to schedule an interview early on in the process to ensure you get an appointment that fits in with your schedule. 

Additionally, is your school test optional? Think carefully about whether or not your testing reflects positively on your application. If your test scores reflect your academic ability, then please do feel free to send them. Know that at Holy Cross, we do not require that applicants submit test scores, nor do we penalize students who choose not to submit test scores.

Finally, if you are ever unsure about any piece of information, definitely reach out to the Admissions Office at the school to which you are applying (email is great!). It will guarantee you have the correct information, and it will show more demonstrated interest on your part. Win-win!




Visit, visit, visit! You may not know what you are looking for in a college until you have seen a few up close in personal. You don’t know what you don’t know, and visiting is a great way to expose yourself to all the things a college has (or does not have) to offer. Sometimes visiting colleges may be easier than expected. Maybe you are on your way to the beach and you pass by a college campus…take a look! You never know what may happen: you may like it, but if you do not, it will give you context for the types of schools that would be a better fit.

So, sign up for a tourgo to an info session, listen to the questions other people ask, and think about whether they are important to you. Maybe even use a few of those questions for your next tour at a different school (we won’t tell!). Here at Holy Cross, we offer July Advisory Days (JAD) during which you can learn about what to do to ensure a successful interview as well as how to start cultivating your personal statement.

Visiting campus is a huge part of what is known as demonstrated interest, which is something colleges (Holy Cross especially) take quite seriously. So take the time, if you are able, to see schools and learn more about what they could offer you! We will be here, ready to show you our campus and tell you more about our community.

What are you looking for in a college?


Happy July!

As we shift our focus from the Class of 2021 to the Class of 2022,  it might be helpful to post some tips on the blog for rising seniors.  We recognize that juniors are narrowing their colleges lists and thinking about where they might want to apply in the fall, so this month we will post articles with helpful information for students as they begin their college application process.

What qualities do you want in a school? How far away from home would you like to be? Do you want to commute and live at home or would you like to be 3,000mi away? What types of activities would you like to continue in college or try? Think about all of the lifestyle habits you would like to keep or try and make sure those activities are included in your search process. Would you like to live on campus or commute? Keep in mind of the opportunities outside of campus as well. How will this school help me with internship/job/alumni networking opportunities? You have a lot to ponder but it’s best to start somewhere. Here are some points to consider:


  1. Size, distance from home
  2. Career opportunities
  3. Athletic opportunities
  4. Academic opportunities
  5. Campus life
  6. Study abroad opportunities
  7. Service opportunities
  8. Tradition
  9. History
  10. Alumni network
  11. Research opportunities
  12. Clubs/organizations
  13. Off-campus life
  14. Religious affiliation
  15. Arts

What will you leave behind?


As our senior class is getting ready to leave Mount Saint James, I’d like to share some reflections from our senior intern, Madison (Maddy) Smith.


written by Madison Smith ’17

Over the last four years I’ve heard it time and time again, “Enjoy your time while you have it.”  Not only from Holy Cross alumni, but from my family and friends who have moved on to the real world.  It’s so easy to think you’ll be here forever, or that you can always do something new or better next year.  Until, you can’t.  It’s easy for me to say, “don’t take it for granted.”  But it’ll probably be more helpful to tell you what to enjoy and what are some of the special things I will be leaving behind.  So Holy Cross, here are the things I will be leaving on the hill for all of you.

Holy Cross has not only provided me with the academic tools to carry me into the world, but has given me a plethora of memories and stories for the rest of my life.  I’m sorry to say that it would be a challenge for me to remember one book I read in my first semester CRAW class freshman year.  But, I can still vividly remember the first time it snowed enough to go sledding by freshman field, or the first time it was nice enough to sit and pretend to be doing work in the Hoval.  The first thing I’ll leave behind for future classes will be the special backdrop to all those memories that is Holy Cross.  Hills and all, from a late night in Dinand to a rough morning in Kimball, campus almost seems to be constructed in a perfect way to make memories for a lifetime.  Don’t wish yourself off campus too soon, or run to study in a Starbucks café, try to enjoy the setting and the people around you.  All those places have been for so many and will be for you the places where your best stories are lived.

Next, I will happily take, but also leave the ever so lucky opportunity for life long best friends.  The people of Holy Cross really seem to be the best and I plan to have them surrounding me for a very long time.  After shortly falling in love with school and not being afraid to tell everyone and anyone I could find, someone told me that I had finally “drank the HC Kool-Aid.”  I absolutely did and I can’t see why anyone wouldn’t.  The people and the community at Holy Cross are truly the Red Dye #3 that makes that sugary drink so great.  I’ll be taking my friends from the Class of 2017 with me, but I can assure you there and there always will be a friendly face around, and more likely than not someone you will take with you when you leave as well.

It’s hard for me to tell you to enjoy it and to not wish it away.  As I’m writing this now I have a countdown in my head of things to get done, classes and practices left.  But, what you can do is remember how special of a place Holy Cross is and realize sooner rather than later that it won’t last forever.  Which is fine! (I hope!)  But, along the way take the time to think about how lucky you are, to be thankful for where you are, to write it down or take a picture, because one day you’ll only be so lucky to tell people about the times you had.  Be sure to remember how wonderful it is while you’re still on Mount St. James.

What did you do over Spring Break?


written by Mackenzie Horl ’17

This year was my third year participating in the Spring Break Immersion Program run by the Chaplains Office. I can honestly say that my experiences on “Appa,” as the program is commonly referred to at Holy Cross, have been some of my favorite and most transformative while here on the hill.

From the time I was a first year at Holy Cross, I had repeatedly heard older students talking about the Spring Break Immersion Program. I heard rumors about how much fun people had at their sites and the friendships that lasted well beyond the one week spent in Appalachia. Unfortunately, nerves got the best of me and I did not sign up for the program as a first year student. However, when I heard my roommate’s stories about her group and all those who she served during her first experience on “Appa,” I promised myself that I would not miss out the next year.

That was a promise that I would keep to myself for the remainder of my spring breaks at Holy Cross. I have visited Ivanhoe, Virginia, Barren Springs, Virginia and Wheeling, West Virginia respectively. At each site, I met unique people and came to better understand their struggles. I found myself in parts of Appalachia that I probably would have never experienced, had I not decided to go on Spring Break Immersion.

This year, I went to Wheeling, West Virginia with twelve other students from Holy Cross. I spent the week living and working in The Soup Kitchen of Greater Wheeling. Each day we ate breakfast and lunch with the patrons who visited the soup kitchen, many of whom were homeless. There were numerous times during this experience that I felt like I had ventured outside of my comfort zone. Before this experience, I had never really come into contact with homeless people before. However, this experience was eye opening for me and taught me a lot about the society that I live in and how the homeless are treated.

I am always amazed when I meet my group each year at the Spring Break Immersion send-off held in Kimball. The night consists of an hour or two of making small talk and getting to know one another. Conversation usually revolves around questions like “what grade are you in? or “what is your major?” Usually I find myself wondering if I made the right decision to go away to a place that I have never been before with fellow Holy Cross students who I have never met before. However, after my first day of the service trip, I always know that I made the right decision. This year, I went to Wheeling with twelve strangers and I returned to Holy Cross with twelve new friends. I look forward to seeing my Appa friends around campus in between classes or meeting up at Cool Beans to chat about life.

I am thankful to the Spring Break Immersion program for opening my eyes to the injustices that people in the United States face. I know that the three weeks that I have spent in Appalachia throughout my time at Holy Cross have meant much more to me, than to those that I have served. However, I hope to take these experiences back with me to Holy Cross and wherever my life journey takes me.