What will you miss most about Holy Cross?


What will I miss most about Holy Cross?

In March 2020, my fellow social media intern, Michaela Lake, and I had the opportunity to travel to Ivanhoe, Virginia as part of the College’s Spring Break Immersion Program. The experience was transformative, to say the least. I recall that much of our week in Ivanhoe was spent learning – about ourselves, each other, and the people of the community that had welcomed us with open arms. Some of the lessons I learned that week I have kept with me to this day; others, understandably, have faded from my memory over the past two years.

And yet there is one lesson I will never forget:

“It comes from the people.”

These words were offered to us in parting by Maxine Waller, a beloved community organizer and activist who had spent over three decades serving as President of the Ivanhoe Civic League, and whose presence we cherished during our brief time in Ivanhoe.

Maxine passed away on November 6, 2020, shortly after our time visiting the community. Yet her legacy lives on, namely through the simple lesson she left us with:

It comes from the people.

When I think back on my four years at Holy Cross, I think it’s fair to say that mixed emotions are to be expected. Seemingly, each and every moment of triumph my classmates and I experienced was marred by instances of loss and hardship – being sent home due to COVID-19 immediately upon our return from Ivanhoe is but a microcosm of this turbulence. And yet, amid the uncertainty, one defining element of Holy Cross remained constant:

It comes from the people.

In my experience, it comes from the people I’ve worked with in the classroom on group projects and discussions, whether friend or stranger. It comes from the people I’ve been lucky enough to have as professors, whose ideas challenged me in my intellectual growth at every corner. It comes from the people who work tirelessly to provide the campus with food or with clean facilities, whose friendliness and devotion I took for granted so many times. It comes from the people I’ve worked with in the Chaplain’s Office, whose guidance has proven instrumental in my spiritual development. It comes from these people, and from so many others.

But most of all, it comes from the people I’ve had the privilege to love and call my friends.

I never thought I’d meet quite as many people here who were capable of changing my life for the better. Each and every one of my friends has never ceased to amaze me in terms of their talents, their intelligence, their humor, their resilience, and their stories. Whether on the intramural battlefield or in sharing a Cool Beans milkshake with those who matter most, nothing sums up my experience at Holy Cross quite like the people I have met along the way. Without these people, I’m not quite sure where I’d be.

My advice to those who, unlike myself, have a great deal of time remaining to experience Holy Cross and all it has to offer: Enjoy it, for all that it is. It will not be perfect, but neither are we. Soak in the little things, as they are moments that will not last forever. In the midst of a busy schedule, make time for yourself. But above all else, always make time for and with others. Because, as Maxine reminds us,

It comes from the people.


– Aidan Ruppert, Class of 2022


What I Will Miss Most…

When my calendar flipped over to the month of May last week, I honestly could not believe it. After four years, my final weeks at Holy Cross had arrived. I have been thinking back over my time on the Hill, walking around campus with nostalgia for my days on Easy Street and wishing that I could turn back time to be at Holy Cross for just a little bit longer.

I have spent a lot of time recently thinking about what I will miss most about Holy Cross. While I feel like I could go on forever about what I will miss about being on the Hill, ranging from my favorite Kimball meals to sunny spring days, what I keep returning to is the strong presence of community on Mount St. James. Everywhere I go on campus in my day to day, while walking to class, rushing to Cool Beans to get coffee, or heading to get food with friends, I always see a friendly face, saying hello, and I feel a connection to the campus community as a whole. Even in spite of the challenges, separation, and distance, the pandemic has caused disrupting campus life, the closeness of community is what I will miss most about being a Holy Cross student.

As I embark on the next chapter of my life, embracing what post-Holy Cross life has to offer, I know that being constantly immersed in this tight knit community will be what I miss most as I move on. In spite of the loss of the immediate connection to Mount St. James, I know that life as an alum will offer a new perspective on connections to Holy Cross, and while I may no longer study and reside on the Hill, I am excited to see what new communities I can find going forward.

I attached a photo from when I first toured Holy Cross in 2017, completely unsure of what the college search would have in store for me. I am so glad that five years later, I am a soon-to-be Holy Cross graduate, and I am so grateful for the community that has shaped me and made me into who I am today. 


~Michaela Lake, Class of 2022

Home Far Away from Home


Hello everyone, my name is Catherine Oberlies! I am a senior at the College studying Math and Computer Science, and I am from Omaha, Nebraska. While I love the Midwest, my college search and application processes consisted mostly of schools in the Northeast. My dad grew up in a big family from upstate New York, and every summer since as long as I can remember, my family and I have spent a week on Cape Cod vacationing with his entire extended family—lots of my cousins, aunts, and uncles. As a result, I grew up associating Massachusetts and the Northeast with some of my favorite memories from my childhood, and when it came time to think about where to go to college, I was consequently drawn to the Northeast. However, this was not the only reason I chose to apply to and ultimately attend a school halfway across the country—I wanted to further explore, live in, and meet people from another part of the country. Additionally, I felt that attending college twelve hundred miles away from home would force me to become independent which is something I wanted for myself, and something that I definitely got out of my decision to attend Holy Cross.

While I applied to other colleges and universities in the Northeast, it was Holy Cross that stood out to me as the best out of all of them. I was drawn to Holy Cross for numerous reasons: its rigorous, liberal arts curriculum (I knew that I wanted to study math or a science field, but I also wanted to have a well-rounded education consisting of humanities courses); the various clubs, organizations, and opportunities it has to offer; the beautiful campus; and most importantly, its small, tight-knit community. I attended a small, Catholic high school (my graduating class was 76 girls!) and became very close with almost all my classmates and teachers, which is something I really enjoyed in high school and contributed to my personal, social, and academic growth and success. As a result, this is something that I wanted in a college, too. Furthermore, at the time of application and decision, I had heard only positive things about Holy Cross.

Looking back on my years at Holy Cross and reflecting on my perspective as a high school student regarding the things that made Holy Cross attractive, I was surprisingly accurate. I chose Holy Cross for all the right reasons—reasons that are now some of my favorite things about the College as a current student. The “community” is easily my favorite thing about Holy Cross. As cliché as it sounds, Holy Cross is a family. I love seeing and saying “hi” to friends and classmates as I walk around campus. I love that my classmates are more than just other students in my classes, they are my friends. I love that I am more than just a number at Holy Cross—all of my professors know me and want me to learn and succeed. My sophomore year, I took a Sociology class called Consumer and Corporation Sustainability with Professor Ellis Jones. I walked into class on the first day, and he had already memorized every student’s name and face from our pictures in our online student portal. I was so pleased and impressed, and it continues to impress me. Throughout my years at Holy Cross, I have found that all my professors have made a strong effort to get to know me—they care about their students’ personal and academic growth and success. Furthermore, I have found that Holy Cross professors are all extremely dedicated to their profession. Many of my professors are always willing to find a time to meet with me, even outside of their regularly scheduled office hours. This is something that you don’t get at most schools and has contributed to my academic growth and success throughout college.

Attending Holy Cross has allowed me to meet other people from all around the country. My close friends are from Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, New Hampshire, Washington DC, Wisconsin, and California. As a result, I have had the opportunity to visit these states and explore many parts of the country that I wouldn’t have if I stayed in Nebraska for college.

I chose to become a Senior Admission Fellow because the senior Holy Cross student that interviewed me four years ago had a big impact on me and my college decision. I remember the interview vividly. My senior student interviewer was so passionate about Holy Cross, even stating that her decision to attend Holy Cross was one of the best decisions that she had ever made. My conversation with her helped me to solidify that Holy Cross really was my first choice. So, after falling in love with Holy Cross throughout my years here I chose to become a Senior Admission Fellow to help impact prospective students, the same way that my Senior Admission Fellow impacted me when I interviewed a few years ago.

I respect and understand Holy Cross’ encouragement for prospective students to interview as a supplement to their written application. Interviewing provides the Office of Admission with a better understanding of the student as a person. These interviews are not intimidating, but rather more of a casual conversation that allows the Office of Admission to get to know the personality behind an application and transcript. Additionally, it provides applicants/interviewees with more information about Holy Cross, so they can make a much more informed college decision.

            Even though I am twelve hundred miles from my home in Omaha, I have found a home here, too, at this amazing place on Mount Saint James. My decision to attend Holy Cross is one of the best decisions that I have made, and I am so lucky to attend such an amazing institution and be a part of such a great community. I hope that through the conversations I have with prospective students in interviews, I can provide a glimpse of how truly special Holy Cross is.

Welcome, Fall

Walking around campus these last few weeks, there is a clear feeling that the Holy Cross community is back. After a year and a half of dispersion, isolation, and change, all class years are back on campus for the first time since March 2020. The familiar sights and feelings of the campus community have brought a sense of normalcy and peace on Mount St. James. Chatting with classmates before in-person classes, making plans with friends to meet at Cool Beans, and seeing the typical weekday line to get into Kimball during the lunch rush has brought a sense of campus unity back to the Hill. 

This fall offers the opportunity for reunion, one that I am very excited for as I begin my final year at Holy Cross (a sentence I cannot believe that I am writing – time flies!). Being back together in the classrooms and seeing extracurriculars start up again are an exciting prospect for this semester. In the early days of the pandemic, I sincerely missed the feeling of being busy on campus and filling my time with different on-campus activities. The ability to gather face-to-face after all this time and getting to recruit underclassmen to join different organizations has been an exciting part of returning to campus this year. 

This fall, I am looking forward to exploring Worcester more. Due to the pandemic, in an attempt to limit exposure, I have missed the chance to explore the different sites the city has to offer. Most recently, I attended my first Worcester Red Sox game and got to explore Polar Park. Seeing the different local Worcester vendors and the greater city community together at the park was an exciting way to get back into the city after so much time away. Gathering with other Holy Cross students and seeing other Worcester students at the game as well was a great way to reconnect with the city and see the beginning of a return to normalcy as we move through the pandemic. 

I am also looking forward to revisiting old connections I have made with the city of Worcester. This year, I will be serving as one of the Student Programs for Urban Development (SPUD) Interns. As part of my role, I will work with other members of SPUD to help facilitate the organization’s transition back into in-person service for the first time since March 2020. Reaching out to and re-establishing connections we hold with the Worcester community has been an exciting way to immerse myself in Worcester once again. I cannot wait to return to working with my students in an in-person setting after so much time apart! 

This fall offers a unique opportunity not only to immerse myself in the campus community, but the Worcester community as well. As my time at Holy Cross slowly draws to a close, I am most looking forward to using this fall as an opportunity to soak in every moment that makes me love this community. Getting to walk around campus every day, to get to smile and talk with various members of campus, is an opportunity I am so grateful for and one that I have missed greatly. I am looking forward to the smaller moments on campus above all. The feeling of excitement while tailgating for home football games, seeing the Fenwick ivy change colors at the beginning of the fall season, and soaking in some sun on the Hoval are all smaller moments that make this fall so exciting to me. This fall is a unique moment for Holy Cross, one that I am so excited to see what it has in store for the Hill.


~Michaela Lake ’22

The Future is Now for Campus Tours


A few weeks ago, we began offering campus tours and like many colleges, our tours look a bit different from the past.  We’re keeping tour groups intentionally small and spending as much time outside as possible.   In addition, just this week, Holy Cross was featured in an article by Inside Higher Education about the future of the campus tour.  

What an exciting moment it was to once again welcome prospective students and their families to our campus. As excited as our guests have been, our tour guides have been equally as excited to show off their school, their campus and to talk about their experience as a Holy Cross student.  

There was so much excitement, in fact, that all the available tours for the summer quickly booked.  Recently, we’ve been able to add more tour spaces and there’s now availability throughout the rest of the summer.

With the return of visitors, I am reminded of a blog entry I wrote 13 years ago about campus tours as some of it bears repeating.  On college campuses, too often we see a family pour out of their car, run to catch the tour, the information session and then sprint back to the car to make it to the next campus for the next tour and information session.

I’m here today to call upon everyone just to slow down.

Seriously – slow down.


Billy Collins ‘63 (U.S. Poet Laureate, 2001-2003) said the following about education:


Although teaching and learning themselves have been motorized by the hyper-pace of information, it is good to remember that the true tempo of education has always involved a deceleration. . . .  a shift from the urgencies and demands of the world to the more leisurely pace of discussion, the cadence of study and reflection, the seeming stop-time of engrossed thought.


When visiting colleges this summer, instead of sprinting from car to tour to info session to car, I want to encourage families to simply slow down.  Schedule your visits so there’s enough time to linger, to truly experience a college campus.  

The most valuable insight from a college visit often comes when you’re not looking for it – a door held for you when you least expect it; the friendly smile from a professor who passes you on the sidewalk; or a conversation between students you overhear at the campus coffee shop.  You’ll only notice these if your pace is leisurely and you just might experience the best part of education – the deliberate and delightful deceleration.


~Drew Carter | Deputy Director of Admission


Three Lessons of College Admissions


As I wrap up my first year post-graduation, and working for the College there are a number of lessons I have learned about the College Admissions process. Lessons I wish I would have been privy to all those years ago when I was applying for Colleges. I have summed up three lessons I have learned while working in college admissions. I hope these lessons are helpful to you as you navigate the College Admissions process, regardless of where you might be in that process: 


Applications get read and re-read and sometimes re-re-read 

Holy Cross uses a holistic approach to admission. We value every aspect of an applicant’s background, and we read every part of the application to ensure we understand the whole picture. Our reading and committee processes are extensive and dedicated to ensuring that we get to know each and every applicant. In short, we care about getting to know you and will read every part of your application multiple times. We are thoughtful and intentional about every decision we make! 


Your admissions counselor wants to get to know you! 

One thing I wish I would have taken advantage of as an applicant is getting to know my regional admissions counselor. As an admissions counselor I love connecting with students and answering their questions! Your admissions counselor is incredibly knowledgeable and can serve as a great resource to you at any point in the admissions process. Please do not be shy about connecting with your counselor! 


Engagement matters 

At Holy Cross we value demonstrated interest. We appreciate it when applicants have engaged with us in some way shape or form during the admissions process. Engagement can mean attending a virtual tour and information session, or sending an admissions counselor an email! Engagement opportunities are not only ways for you to demonstrate interest, but they are also avenues to learn more about the College of the Holy Cross. I encourage you all to take advantage of every opportunity to learn more about Holy Cross. It  is important to research every school you apply to! You should gather all the necessary information you need to ensure you are applying to schools that are a fit for you! 

I hope this information is helpful to you as you navigate through the admissions process! I wish you the best, and encourage you to enjoy every step of the process!



Alyssa Martinez | Assistant Director of Admission



Looking back at my first year as a student at Holy Cross, I credit much of my amazing experience to the Montserrat program. From my incredible professor to my peers that would quickly become my friends, Montserrat served as reassurance that Holy Cross was where I wanted to be.

Last year, I was lucky enough to have been placed into Professor Ryan’s seminar in the Divine cluster, called “Identity, Diversity and Community.” My classmates all lived in the same dorm as me, so it was a relief to be able to meet other students right away and see familiar faces around campus. A majority of my current friend group came to be through our Montserrat, since the class size is small, which allowed us all to easily get to know one another. I also had the opportunity to get to know my professor, and between a whole year of being her student and attending office hours, I was able to form a strong bond with her that made my adjustment to college all the more comfortable. My Montserrat seminar also included what is called a Community Based Learning component, an opportunity in numerous Montserrat seminars that allows first year students to volunteer in the city of Worcester. Through my CBL, I had the chance to volunteer with a kindergarten class at a local elementary school, which was such a fun experience. Not only did we get to engage with Worcester, but we also reflected on our volunteer experiences which changed my perspective of community service for the better.

The Montserrat program offers six different clusters to first year students, each cluster having various seminars. These classes all provide unique experiences for students with an abundance of benefits. Each class lasts for the entire first year with each semester focusing on a different theme. For the most part, these classes are also taught by the same professor. The consistency in schedule, classmates, and professors allows students to become comfortable on campus through academic and social aspects. The welcoming atmosphere established by Montserrat ensures a smooth transition to college life for first year students as well as the opportunity to bond with faculty members, which may be intimidating to most upon entering college. Having a class limited to only first years as well as students that live in the same dorm buildings is also vital for contributing to this atmosphere and strengthening social connections among peers. The seminars themselves also offer great benefits for students. The material taught enables students to expand beyond standard curriculum and learn about topics that would not be otherwise covered. For example, my two seminar themes were “Exploring Difference” and “Modifying Technology” in which I was able to learn about disabilities in society as well as ethics of genetic engineering. Both of these themes offer curriculum outside of core subjects, which offered a unique perspective on worldly concerns that could be carried on throughout the college experience. The seminars consist of real-world applications that not only contribute to the well-roundedness of a liberal arts student, but also change how first years see the community around them.

Community is a substantial component of the Montserrat program. The CBL opportunities offered by some seminars reinforces the aspect of community between Holy Cross students and the citizens of Worcester. Many students choose to continue their volunteer work with their community partner throughout their Holy Cross careers from having a positive experience through Montserrat. The program also establishes a sense of community on campus through cluster events. These events include performances, presentations, or activities relevant to the theme of the entire cluster that students attend. Cluster events bring together all students of various seminars under that one cluster, allowing students to meet many more peers that they are also living with. This unifies first year students in a way that they become a community on campus, furthering the comfortable and welcoming atmosphere the Montserrat program strives to achieve.

The Montserrat program here at Holy Cross aims to introduce first year students to life as a college student and serves as a unique component of the school. I, along with many other Holy Cross students, am the student I am today academically and socially because of the foundations built by Montserrat.

~Lindsay R. ’23


Applying to College During a Pandemic

The latin phrase virtute et numine is the inspiration for the phrase “by grit and grace.”  I am reminded of that sentiment because a few weeks ago, we passed the six month mark – 180 days since my co-workers and I left the Office of Admission and started working remotely and Holy Cross students left campus and started remote learning.  On an almost daily basis, we are challenged in ways that we never expected and for which we could not prepare.  

Over these six months, in conversations over Zoom with high school students, we in the Admission Office have been hearing stories of canceled standardized test dates, the challenges of remote, hybrid and in-person learning and all of the resulting stress and anxiety that has been added to the college application process.  We are simultaneously inspired by these students’ stories of perseverance and saddened by the heightened anxiety that they are experiencing.  In response, we have created the following website and video to help address the most common questions and concerns about applying to college during this unforeseen pandemic.

We will get through the next six months the same way we got through the last six months – by demonstrating compassion for each other, and, most of all, by grit and grace.


~Andrew Carter

Sr. Associate Director of Admission


Junior Year During COVID-19

Hi everyone! My name is Michaela Lake, and I am a junior Psychology major at the College working as a Social Media intern in the Admissions Office this year. I am from Fair Haven, New Jersey, where I will be attending my classes virtually this semester. This fall is different from what I had imagined, but I am looking forward to what this semester has to offer.

As I begin my online classes, I have reflected a lot on what the transition to online was like in the spring compared to now. The transition from in-person class to online classes last year was an abrupt and difficult adjustment, with many bumps in the road as we as a community completely changed the way in which we learn and interact with one another. Holy Cross gave students and professors one week without class to adjust syllabi, become familiar with programs like Zoom and Google Meet, and in general get used to teaching and learning from our homes. This transition was done in a way my friends and I have called “organized chaos,” as we had to adjust each step of the way as the world around us changed. Now, as I attend classes in a fully virtual format this semester, this transition is less daunting than last year, as I do have some Zoom experience under my belt heading into my third year on the Hill. My professors have prepared syllabi knowing we would be remote for the entirety of the semester, barring any interruptions, like what happened last March. This semester is unlike any other academic year I have ever experienced, but is one that I feel more prepared for than I initially thought.

Being a college student during this time is challenging, frustrating, and at times isolating. College students are in a unique position within the new COVID world, as expectations for the school year are evolving everyday nationwide, and there is a strong feeling of uncertainty within each day, regardless if students are on-campus or in dispersion, like Holy Cross. Now more than ever, I feel being a college student requires flexibility and adaptability, as well as the ability to pivot at a moment’s notice. I have come to realize that being a COVID college student requires a “expect the unexpected” mindset, focusing more on the short-term rather than the long-term. However, in spite of the challenges that arise from being a college student during the COVID crisis, I do feel that I have grown academically and I gained valuable life skills. I feel that college students as a whole have been able to persevere through the tough times and unpredictability of today’s world in creative and innovative ways to make the most of their experiences both socially and academically.

I have a newfound appreciation and gratitude for my Holy Cross community in this time away from campus and in dispersion from my classmates and friends. The College has worked to continue offering extracurricular opportunities to students, as well as maintain a sense of unity and normalcy in what can only be classified as abnormal times. My friends and I still read The Spire, the College paper, each Friday as it continues to put out virtual editions each week. Currently, I am serving as a SPUD Community Organizer, and my team and I have been able to find new ways to engage in my weekly service in Worcester through SPUD in the remote setting. I got to participate in the Communitas Retreat run through the Chaplains’ Office last spring (the first virtual retreat put on by the office) and maintain my connections with the Chaplains in this time apart. This summer, I also got to co-lead a small group as part of the Horizons Retreat for the Class of 2024, also organized by the Chaplains’ Office, to welcome the incoming freshman class in a way the College has never done before. Getting to keep my extracurricular involvement in Holy Cross without being physically on campus is something that has reminded me how strong the HC community is, regardless if we are together on campus or spread across the country. These resources provided by the College have supported me and helped me feel like a true Holy Cross student, even as I attend classes from my bedroom. 

This year, I am looking forward to working with the Admissions Office to create social media content for the Class of 2025, as social media has a newfound importance in the COVID world. I am also looking forward to working as a SPUD Community Organizer to help recruit and connect students to service in Worcester, even if they may not physically be in the city or on campus. I am also looking forward to becoming part of the Soul Squad groups, offered by the Chaplains’ Office so I can connect with other Holy Cross students in moments of reflection. Although this time is incredibly difficult, I look forward to strengthening my connections with the Holy Cross community.

~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.