“Spotlight: Policy and Politics in America (AIP Seminar)” – Guest Blogger, Anne Comcowich ’22, JDPC Ambassador

The Academic Internship Program that’s supported by the J.D. Power Center consistently offers enriching opportunities to synthesize both academics and real world experiences through its seminars that are exceedingly interesting and relevant to world affairs. One of these seminars, Policy and Politics in America, taught by former congressman Tim Bishop ‘72 and longtime political consultant Peter Flaherty ‘87, is an impressive academic course centered on student engagement with the real world of politics. The winter 2019 issue of the Holy Cross Magazine reported that through the mission of fostering opportunities for experiential learning in mind, the J.D. Power Center supported the creation of this course to cover experiences in and around politics. Two educators were then selected so that the course did not have a partisan bias. This course intends to provide students with comprehensive understandings of important House and Senate races in midterm elections, particularly the 2022 midterm elections, in tandem with the following result’s consequences on policy debates. One of the goals that this seminar has is to transcend partisanship and engage in more productive political conversations. Guided by well qualified instructors and frequent guest speakers, students participate in high level discussions and develop deeper comprehension of the political system in the United States and of the various career opportunities that grow alongside government ones such as grassroots organizing, voter outreach, and campaigning. 

The co-teachers, Mr. Bishop and Mr. Flaherty, both also exemplify how purple runs deep, and that the Holy Cross community is full of support networks and exciting connections. Bishop graduated from Holy Cross in 1972, followed by his brother Chris ‘74, and he has remained in contact with a fair number of his classmates, including Fr. Hayes of the Chaplains’ Office. Flaherty graduated from Holy Cross in 1987. His brother, Chip, graduated in 1986, his son, Peter Flaherty III graduated in 2021, and two nieces are alumnae and one is a current student. Even though 15 years and differing political orientations may seem to separate these two alumni, they really do practice what they preach. Coming from different backgrounds has not been a barrier between a joyful friendship built on mutual admiration. Teaching a seminar, engaging students, and inspiring up and coming political leaders, has further forged their bond, and this is reflected in the strength of their course. 

Bishop’s favorite part of teaching the seminar is interacting throughout the years with “uniformly impressive” students. He says that they are consistently, “bright, engaged, committed, interested in playing their part to make the world a better place, and also committed to the central ethos of HC-education for others.” Flaherty echoes this sentiment as he says, “The prism through which the Holy Cross students see the political landscape is rooted in an admirable and refreshing selflessness with an eye toward contributing to solutions, rather than focusing on divisive rhetoric.” This praise of students is hopeful for the future of our country considering both he and Peter Flaherty have supported a fair amount of students in getting jobs in politics, government, political consulting, and more. Notably, with Flaherty’s help, a class of 2019 graduate, Carter Mitchell, obtained a position with a political consulting firm. Mitchell will also be a guest lecturer for the class on October 26. Students who have taken this course also have held a various array of internships that adds interactions with colleagues and coworkers to the academic experience. Some of the internships that students in the course hold this semester are with the Federalist Society, Worcester Court Service Center, Framingham Centre Common Cultural District, Chicago Council on Global Affairs, Worcester District Attorney’s Office, Gray Panthers NYC Network, City of Worcester Elections Committee, Coresight Research. There are often students in gubernatorial and congressional internships and respective campaigns as well. 

To expand upon to the course’s relevancy to current political conversations, the co-teachers consistently bring in highly qualified guest speakers. Some of the names on the expansive list include:

Former Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, Governor Walz of Minnesota, Governor Inslee of Washington, Congressman Steny Hoyer of Maryland, Representative Jim Clyburn of South Carolina, Representative Linda Sanchez of California and Representative Adam Schiff of California, former Congressman Joseph P. Kennedy III, Former White House Chief of Staff under President George H.W. Bush and former Governor of New Hampshire John Sununu, Former U.S. Senator and U.S. Ambassador to New Zealand Scott Brown, Former Whitehouse Press Secretary Sean Spicer, Barack Obama Campaign Manager David Plouffe, President Obama Senior Advisor David Axelrod, Chairman of the Democratic National Committee Jamie Harrison, Pollster for President Trump James McLaughlin, and pollster for Presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg Jef Pollock, one of President Trump’s lead attorneys Jay Sekulow, political consultant John Lapp, Dana Bash, John Berman, Chris Cuomo and Kasie Hunt of CNN, Phil Rucker and Ashley Parker of the Washington Post, and more.

Students in Policy and Politics in America have the priceless opportunity to hear from high powered figures with diverse voices and opinions. The guest speakers hail from almost every aspect of politics, from elected officials, big names in media news, and everything in between. Every speaker brings important insight to the class that helps further mutual understandings of politics and the reality of the political sphere. Bishop says that, “listening to both Jim Clyburn and Jamie Harrison speak about growing up Black in rural South Carolina and then rising to the heights they have achieved was both powerful and inspiring, and hearing a no nonsense guy like Governor Sununu talk about his focus on results as opposed to politics was a real lesson in what is missing in our current political discourse.”

The mission of this course was reiterated by October 19th’s guest speaker, Congressman Andy Kim of New Jersey, who said that there’s a current desire from the nation for more humble and grounded politics. That’s exactly what Bishop and Flaherty aim to teach and instill in Policy and Politics in America, and they are having excellent success with it. 

Holy Cross Magazine: https://news.holycross.edu/blog/2019/01/07/two-alumni-political-world-veterans-teach-course-examining-politics-from-inside-out/ 

“Reflections on the Community Partner Reception” – Alison Maloney ’23

On October 6th, the Holy Cross Community Engagement Committee had the pleasure of hosting its annual Community Partner Appreciation Reception. Held at the recently opened Polar Park, the occasion recognized and celebrated the many meaningful partnerships Holy Cross has with organizations throughout Worcester. Community partners are vital for a number of opportunities at Holy Cross—community based learning, internships, academic research, and so much more. Representatives from these agencies, Holy Cross faculty and staff, and students had the opportunity to engage and socialize over light refreshments, and there were several speeches made by student leaders and President Rougeau. 

One of the speakers, Lauren Vitelli ‘22, shared her experiences with SPUD and the special ways in which her involvement at the Marie Anne Center has shaped her experience at Holy Cross. Working in the ESL classes, Lauren helps to facilitate the learning of English to students at the center. In her speech, she expressed her gratitude for this opportunity which has facilitated meaningful relationships, new perspectives, and growth as a teacher. Lauren recognized and thanked the community partners for helping to create such wonderful opportunities for Holy Cross students. She later reflected that her experiences have helped her to discern what will be next for her after graduation: “Engagement has helped me determine what I want to do in my future career and encouraged me to take a service year before heading to graduate school.”

The second student speaker, Sabrina Ramos ‘22, spoke about her involvement with Working for Worcester. Having started community engagement her first year at Holy Cross, Sabrina also participated in SPUD and CBL, both of which have given her plenty of opportunity to explore Worcester beyond campus. In her speech, Sabrina reflected on these opportunities, stating that “community engagement has been really important to me because it makes me feel connected to Wocrester in a way that I can’t experience just by being on campus.” Through Working for Worcester, Sabrina helps to tutor in Worcester Public Schools. Like Lauren, Sabrina also reflected on the special connections she has formed with her students and the personal growth such relationships have fostered: “I have learned to listen to what the community actually needs to help develop education and support for our youth, and how to overcome the structural inequalities presented in education that would limit children from dreaming big.” Sabrina currently is one of the co-executive directors of Working for Worcester, and from her experience, she recommends students interested in new opportunities on campus not to hesitate in getting involved. She advises, “I recommend attending a meeting/event with a club that interests you and talking about your interests with other group members! Talking with peers is the best way to make new connections and feel comfortable joining new clubs.”

Finally, Julianne Esteves ‘22 also attended the Community Partner Appreciation Reception as a CBL intern to work the check-in desk. Reflecting on the event, Julianne explained that the event’s in-person nature was very exciting and special, especially with things having been virtual for such a long time: “For me, I have either heard of many people’s names or been on Zoom calls with them over the past year, so it was very meaningful to actually connect in person. I even got to meet Debbie, one of the directors of my CBL site this year, in person. We were able to introduce ourselves and share in our excitement.” Julianne also shared that events like this reception are important in that they further facilitate connections across the community, concluding that “Events like these remind students that our college experience is not limited to the gates of our campus, but rather closely tied with the Worcester community. Hearing as many stories and reflections from Worcester residents should be a priority of ours, and this event was just one example of how those connections can be fostered.”  This Community Partner Appreciation Reception was one of many ways Holy Cross can continue to further engage with its wonderful community partners in Worcester. We look forward to recognizing these special connections in future opportunities this year!

 

 

“A Four-Year Journey” – Kat Hauver ’22

I was introduced to Community-Based Learning in my Montserrat course, Death and Dying. My classmates and I volunteered at various hospice homes in Worcester; my site was Rose Monahan Hospice Home. Although it was unlike anything I had ever experienced,  I immediately felt connected to the site. I found it incredibly meaningful to spend time with this population, so I continued volunteering through my sophomore year. When Covid hit, my time at Rose Monahan came to an end. Because nursing and hospice homes did not allow in-person volunteering, in my junior year, I volunteered virtually with St. Mary Healthcare Center. Once a week, I would Facetime my resident and we would talk for hours. As hard as it is for me to believe I am already a senior, I knew during my senior year that I wanted to incorporate my unique experiences at Rose Monahan and St. Mary’s with my sociology major. This year, I am writing my sociology honors thesis on the emotional labor of volunteers in different hospice homes. In my Montserrat class, I heard many different perspectives of volunteers depending on the facility they were volunteering at. I used this thought to come up with the question of how the volunteer experience is different in different locations. I’m using Hochschild’s concept of emotional labor, which describes how workers must express or elicit particular feelings as part of their occupations. I will compare the volunteers’ experiences at different hospice homes to gain an understanding of their emotions while volunteering. I am continuing to volunteer at Rose Monahan and am doing an internship through the Academic Internship Program at St. Mary’s. While the sites are very different, I enjoy my time at both of them, for I learn different things at each of them. There’s very little research about how hospice care differs across these different types of settings, so I am hoping to help fill a research gap. I think one of the best things about CBL is the ability to connect what you are learning inside of the classroom with the world outside of the classroom. For example, it is one thing for me to read scholarly articles on volunteering, but it adds a whole new dimension to actually be at the sites volunteering. I am grateful for CBL for introducing me to a field I feel passionate about, and I am very excited to continue to work on my thesis and learn more about volunteering from past and current volunteers. 

“Taking time to Pause” – Julianne Esteves ’22

I am very excited to be fully back on campus this year, with in-person classes, events, and CBL! It did not take very long, though, for the busyness of a typical Holy Cross semester to ramp up — my Google Calendar has been quickly filled with classes, extracurricular meetings, college events, and coffee dates with friends. As a senior, I am very aware of my fleeting time as a student at Holy Cross, which means I am trying to make the most of each week, embracing all of the opportunities in front of me and going down my “HC Bucket List.” 

While I receive a lot of excitement and energy from running between these various events and commitments, it is a challenge to also stay on top of my coursework and take care of myself. It can be rather problematic that Holy Cross students pride themselves in how “busy” they are, not recognizing the importance of slowing down, reflecting, and resting. I have always found that engaging with CBL and my role as an Intern has, despite being another activity, given me a chance to slow down. I quickly learned in my first CBL experience with the Marie Anne Center that it would not offer me or the students any benefit if I was distracted, consumed with where I had to go next or what I had to complete before midnight. CBL offered me an intentional space where I could just be with people, with sometimes no set agenda or direction. Whether I was engaging with the Marie Anne Center, Ascentria, or other Interns at bi-weekly meetings, CBL has always been such a meaningful “break” in my Holy Cross schedule. And, these times were an important reminder to truly give myself the break and rest. 

I am excited about a new Intern role that I have this year which fits nicely into the theme of “pausing.” I am serving on the Student Leadership Team for the PAUSE Project. The PAUSE Project started out of Professor Cohen’s 2019-2020 Montserrat course, and it seeks to create a one hour block in the Holy Cross weekly schedule where no events and classes would be scheduled. During this time, all members of the Holy Cross community would be encouraged to take the hour off for reflection and self-care, engaging with optional communal offerings provided. This year, I am working as an Outreach Programmer, working to make connections with other student groups in order to collaborate and receive feedback on how best we can implement the project. With this outreach, it is our hope that more students on campus will learn about our initiative and want to be more engaged with it. I believe that this initiative is so needed on our very busy campus, and I cannot wait to see where this year takes the PAUSE Project. My CBL experiences have always enforced the importance of stepping back, pausing, and reflecting, so I am very grateful to be broadening my capacity as an Intern in this role and fully embracing those important elements! 

“Returning to In-Person Engagement” – Sarah Ayers ’23

Welcome back to the CBL Intern Blog for 2021-2022! I am currently experiencing two overwhelming emotions as I write this post: gratitude and excitement. Both of these feelings stem from the fact that this year many CBL students have the chance to return to in-person community engagement. It has been well over a year since I last sat in one of the Holy Cross vans silently reflecting on the time I spent at Ascentria Care Alliance and eagerly imagining the next time I would get to go back. I still remember the anxiety I felt walking into the English-speaking class at Ascentria for the first time during my second semester at Holy Cross, and the immediate relief I felt when one of the participants waved me over to sit next to him. Now I am finally able to say that after a year of Zoom calls, internet connection issues, and beginning to talk while I’m still muted, I will be returning to in-person engagement.

I think many can agree that forming new, meaningful connections has not been easy in the time of COVID-19. I felt disconnected from my fellow Holy Cross students and faculty, and I felt almost as if my relationships with the Worcester community were entirely severed. This semester, CBL students at the college have the privilege to build new relationships and strengthen old ones with our community partners, many of whom surely missed our presence as well. I am excited to begin my time at Brookdale Eddy Pond, an assisted living community about ten minutes away from campus. While I have not spent much time in nursing homes in the past, I recognize that the elderly are one of the most vulnerable communities due to the pandemic. Many residents have been separated from family members, friends, and at times other residents for prolonged periods of time. I am looking forward to the opportunity to provide any sense of relief or comfort in a time that has proven to be unprecedented for the residents at Brookdale.

Although all my typical first day of engagement worries still linger, I am going into this semester of service with a greater sense of gratitude than I have in the past. I am grateful for the chance to sit in a room with another person who does not attend or work at the college. I am grateful that I will once again have a reason to leave the hill and our Holy Cross bubble every week to learn more about the people in the Worcester community. Finally, I am grateful that I will soon experience the mutualistic relationships that are born from community engagement. So, whether you are beginning community engagement at Holy Cross for the first time this semester or returning to it, I implore you to recognize your own gratitude for the opportunity that lies ahead.

“Reflecting on my time as a CBL Intern” – Paige Cohen ’21

I’m sitting down to write this blog post right before I head out to Fitton Field for the 2021 Baccalaureate Mass. This Mass strikes me as the perfect bookend to my Holy Cross — and especially Community-Based Learning (CBL) — experience. I began my time at Holy Cross at another Mass on Fitton Field, all the way back in 2017. I remember my parents sitting next to me crying, being surrounded by hundreds of unknown faces, and being a little overwhelmed by all the new that was around me. But the rhythm of the Mass gave me a sense of comfort, and the homily’s focus on Jesuit spirituality gave me my first glimpse into the foundation in service, prayer, and reflection that my Holy Cross education would have.

Since that Mass of the Holy Spirit, CBL has been a constant reminder of that same foundation throughout my time at Holy Cross. My first CBL experience came in my first-year Montserrat course, called “Death and Society”. All of us trained as hospice volunteers, visiting for a couple hours each week with nursing home residents around Worcester, as part of their hospice care team. It was intimidating and hard at times to walk into the room of a complete stranger, but as I met with different residents throughout the year, I began to learn their stories and to look forward to my times with them.

Finding this Montserrat CBL experience so powerful, I applied to be a CBL intern for my sophomore year. I had so looked up to the two CBL interns who had visited my Montserrat to lead reflection sessions — Jerome Siangco‘19 and Will McAvoy ‘20 — and hoped to pass on the gift of CBL to new students by becoming a CBL intern myself.

I count my sophomore year as my most difficult at Holy Cross, as I struggled to get my bearings and sometimes felt isolated. But during that sophomore year, through CBL, I also had the privilege of visiting and forming a close relationship with a hospice resident who treated me as one of his own grandchildren. I would bring him my political science papers, listen as he told stories about his time in the military, and got to meet his family. We happened to have the same birthday and got to go to his nursing home’s birthday celebration together. I never would have met this man if it hadn’t been for CBL, but his constant joy during our visits together were a bright spot in a year full of challenging growth for me.

Junior year, during the fall, I continued to work as a CBL intern, planning dialogue sessions, leading reflections, and visiting with hospice residents. I felt much more settled than I had during sophomore year and felt that I was hitting my stride. But then, just a few days before I was due back on campus for the spring semester, I was injured in the Women’s Rowing team van accident. Although of course the accident is a painful memory, I will always remember the love that the CBL community showed me during that time. I was welcomed back on campus by the van drivers whom I had come to know in checking out Holy Cross vans for weekly visits. I received letters from hospice residents’ families who had heard what happened. And the Donelan Office staff and my fellow interns sent me a beautiful care package in the mail. I felt so loved and cared for in those days, as I hope all who encounter the Donelan Office feel.

Senior year has been different, of course. COVID has made it difficult to continue volunteering in hospice and made it more challenging to fully engage with other CBL students (though I am still always impressed by the insights that come out of Zoom CBL reflection sessions!). I have really, really missed my hospice visits in this past year, and this underscores for me that, as I step forward into post-graduate life, I need to prioritize integrating service into my routine. CBL has introduced me to new people, allowed me to hear the powerful reflections of so many Holy Cross students, and encouraged me to live a life of service after graduation. I will always be grateful for my time with the Donelan Office and for the chance to serve as a CBL intern.

“Learning the Mission: How I Found Purpose in My Academic Work Through The CBL Intern Program” – Patrick McQuillen ’23

When I woke up on the morning of April 3, 2020, I had no idea how much one message would change the rest of my college career. As I started my day during the height of the lockdown, I anxiously checked my email to see if I had heard back from the CBL intern program to find out if I had been accepted after my in-person interview a few weeks prior. Though I understood that it was an incredibly difficult time for people to meet and discuss the intern selection process, I was very nervous about my future at the time due to the incredible amount of uncertainty caused by the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Fortunately, when I gained the confidence to check the final decision, I was relieved and ecstatic to find out that I had been accepted into the CBL intern program for the 2020-2021 academic year. As I read through the acceptance letter, I realized that my acceptance into this program would provide me with various opportunities that could deepen my understanding of social justice. One specific opportunity, which I immediately took advantage of, was enrolling in Professor Michelle Sterk Barrett’s course “Community Engagement and Social Responsibility.” Although this class is generally taken by seniors at the College, myself and one other sophomore CBL intern (Jocelyn Hernandez) had the privilege to take the class after our acceptance into the CBL program. At first, I was intimidated by the prospects of participating in a class with a majority of upperclass students. However, these nerves were soon put to ease on the first day of class as I realized how the very small class size (of about eight students) could inspire vulnerable discourse regarding prevalent social justice issues like immigration and income inequality. Throughout the course of the semester, Prof. Sterk Barrett provided intriguing material from notable authors which helped me recognize how interconnected the causes of various social justice issues are. One specific piece which sparked great conversation amongst my classmates, and my fellow Interns as well, was a book by Ijeoma Oluo titled, So You Want to Talk About Race. The incorporation of this book into the curriculum of my class with Prof. Sterk Barrett, along with its addition to the CBL Intern book club, significantly impacted my understanding of race and its diverse impact on contemporary American society. As I continued to learn about these various social justice topics, I also enrolled in the Civitas Leadership Institute with hopes to apply some of the information I had learned in class. The institute provided me with a space to discuss social justice issues regarding community engagement with other like minded individuals.  Overall, my experience with the academic opportunities provided by the CBL program have certainly deepened my compassion for service because I better understand the positive impact that individuals can make on others through effective community engagement.

Senior CBL Intern Spotlights – Spring ’21

Get to know our senior CBL Interns as they prepare to graduate on May 21, 2021. Congratulations to Gabi, Jeremiah, Paige, Emma, Caitlin, Yesenia, Anh, and Jack on all of their achievements! (Note: these spotlights were originally written for the Donelan Office newsletter and are re-posted here.)

Gabi Beaulieu

  1. What area of social justice work are you most passionate about? The area of social justice work that I am most passionate about is food injustice. I strongly believe that most Americans are not aware of the food insecurity that is present in our country and how much our current food system is destroying both communities and the environment. This area of social justice is particularly important to me because our country has enough food to feed everyone, yet so many people are hungry and do not have access to proper food. The inequalities of our current food system are unjust and change needs to be made.
  2. What has been the best part of your CBL Intern experience? The best part of my CBL experience has been the relationships I have formed both in the Worcester community and the Holy Cross community. I was so fortunate to form such a strong bond with Sr. Marie, my resident at St. Mary Health Care Center, and I will cherish our friendship for the rest of my life. I learned so much from her and I miss our visits dearly. The relationships I formed on campus with other students and faculty members have been so transformative for me as well. I truly found my home away from home within the CBL community.
  3. After graduation, how will you carry the lessons and values of CBL with you? After graduation, I will carry with me the value and importance of relationships. CBL has taught me that at the core of service is relationships, for it is only when we enter into relationship with those around us that we can truly be people for and with others. A major part of what drove me to physical therapy was the relationship nature of the career. I want to form bonds with patients and continue to build community wherever I go.

Jeremiah Bialkowski

  1. What area of social justice work are you most passionate about? During my time as an Intern, I have been introduced to a wide variety of social justice issues, including youth poverty and disability rights. One issue that I have recently become passionate about is food injustice. My first-year at HC, I attended a spring break immersion in Wheeling, WV, where I learned more about food injustice and spent time farming. I love to cook and eat, so I have found this issue to be pertinent in my life and hope in the next coming years to engage in work to address this important issue in my community.
  2. What has been the best part of your CBL Intern experience? There have been so many different aspects of the CBL Intern program that have been influential. I most enjoy meeting and engaging in discussion with individuals who are passionate about justice-oriented issues and community engagement. I also have noticed that it has allowed me to appreciate Worcester more, and develop a sense of curiosity to explore the city and value its diversity and uniqueness.
  3. After graduation, how will you carry the lessons and values of CBL with you? After graduation, I hope to continue my engagement with the communities I live in and do more to promote justice. I not only want to be involved in direct service with others but also advocate against injustices. Although I am not exactly sure what the future holds for me, I do know that I want to continue building community with others, to work to create a more just and equitable world.

Paige Cohen

  1. What area of social justice work are you most passionate about? I am most passionate about hospice and elder care ministry. I grew up bringing Communion to area nursing homes with my mom on Sundays, and I became a trained hospice volunteer through my CBL Montserrat at Holy Cross. It has been so meaningful to get to meet and spend time with so many at home in Atlanta and now in Worcester.
  2. What has been the best part of your CBL Intern experience? The best part of my CBL Intern experience has been the opportunity to lead reflection sessions in CBL classes. I love getting to introduce new HC students to the CBL experience. I always feel like I’m learning and growing by listening to students’ reflections, too.
  3. After graduation, how will you carry the lessons and values of CBL with you? After graduation, I am moving to Boston to begin working for a consulting firm. Although my work is not ministry in itself, I want to be very intentional from the start to be involved in my community. I am looking forward to joining a Catholic parish in Boston and getting involved in their senior ministry — maybe even becoming a Eucharistic minister to the homebound as my mom has been for years. I will also be committed to learning about my new community and being open to opportunities to serve in any way I can.

Emma Davison

  1. What area of social justice work are you most passionate about? I am most interested in environmental protection. Ensuring continued, equitable access to critical resources like water on a global scale advances responsible agricultural practices and promotes public health. Natural resource scarcity is increasing rapidly due to the effects of climate change without the restoration programming or corporate regulation efforts necessary to mitigate such decline. This environmental degradation challenges civil society and places stress on previously-sound diplomatic relations. As a result, I think natural resource scarcity, is an increasing threat to national security and international stability. To prevent conflict, protect the global commons, and promote public health, new programming and policies must be created.
  2. What has been the best part of your CBL Intern experience? The best part has been learning from and alongside the other interns. Each of us chose to join the intern cohort because of our unique experiences, and each of us brings a different perspective to the program. It is energizing to work collaboratively peers who have a shared love for engaging with the Worcester community and discussing local and global issues through a critical, hopeful lens. The plurality of CBL partners makes it so that I will never personally be able to experience the many programs taking place at every site, but I have the next-best-thing of getting to hear my peers speak so passionately about their CBL experiences.
  3. After graduation, how will you carry the lessons and values of CBL with you? One of the greatest lessons I will take with me following graduation is the ever-present opportunity to engage deeply and responsibly with the communities I reside in and benefit from. Though I will be leaving Worcester, this city and its people have welcomed me so consistently and I hope to be an equally active member of every community I am a part of in the future. To prioritize being a responsible community member, I will be intentional in learning about the history, culture, and intricacies of the places I call home. My time in Worcester has taught me that the more you learn about a place, the more you discover there is to do in that place, and the more you love that place.

Caitlin Grant

  1. What area of social justice work are you most passionate about? My experience as a CBL Intern completely ignited my interest in rights for the undocumented migrant population, my initial interest flourished into an interest in education for English Language Learners.  As a first year I engaged with Ascentria Care Alliance where I met weekly with an undocumented migrant who was learning English.  The bond we created, facing new challenges each week in our attempt to communicate with each other, grew immensely as the weeks went on.  As I continued as an intern I began to engage with the WPS Transition Program where I have made the best friendships with the WPS students, who are also in a situation of attempting to maintain a bilingual and multicultural identity in a society where citizens are truly encouraged to assimilate to an American identity and English language.  My identity has grown as a Spanish speaker as I have connected with so many whose perspectives are so different from my own.  Further, my experiences with these groups of English Language Learners grew my desire for the education system to respect the identities and work more cohesively and symbiotically with these students.
  2. What has been the best part of your CBL Intern experience? I am not exaggerating when I say that being a CBL Intern has been one of the most incredible aspects of my experience at Holy Cross.  This group has brought me the most fulfilling sense of community both on campus and in the Worcester community.  I am incredibly grateful for all of the large and small moments I have had with all of my fellow interns and Isabelle and Michelle, in addition to the conversations that have challenged me and enlightened me during these past 4 years.  There is truly something special about being a part of a group that shares my passion for social justice and I am never not learning from each and every member of this group.  The people are what makes a place meaningful and current and past members of this community have done that for me I cannot wait to continue to grow as a passionate citizen seeking justice alongside the graduating and graduated interns.
  3. After graduation, how will you carry the lessons and values of CBL with you? I have found so much meaning and purpose during my time engaging with English Language Learners that I know my future will involve this passion to some degree.  Yet, CBL has been about more than my engagement, although the connections I have forged in the community have truly emphasized what it means to be with others, I will continue to be for others in my pursuit of knowledge and education.  CBL has reminded me to always think about why things exist in the manner that they do and how we can identify and challenge structural injustices.  Further, to not only educate myself but to engage as well, to have difficult conversations and to not stray away from hearing a different perspective.  It has also gifted me with reflection, something I know I will continue to rely on as I continue in my journey.  Ultimately, I hope to never stop making connections with those who I share time with, especially those who are less privileged than myself, and to never stop learning.

Yesenia Gutierrez

  1. What area of social justice work are you most passionate about? The area of social justice that I am most passionate about is immigration. I am passionate about immigration because of my personal experiences in seeing some of my family members go through their immigration process. Seeing the challenges in immigration such as language and financial barriers motivates me to work and advocate towards a society where resources are more accessible for undocumented immigrant communities.
  2. What has been the best part of your CBL Intern experience? The best part of my CBL experience is being part of a community… una familia. Being part of the CBL Intern cohort provided me the space to meet other students and individuals who have similar passions as me. What I hold close and dear to my heart are the CBL Intern meetings in which I had the space to reflect on the work that I was doing and what I was learning from the community I was serving. 
  3. After graduation, how will you carry the lessons and values of CBL with you? Being part of CBL has taught me the importance and meaning of service. Before coming to Holy Cross, I enjoyed engaging in volunteer opportunities, but I never took the time to truly reflect on what my actions meant in addition to the lessons that I take away. After graduation, I hope to work in immigration law, where I hope to carry out my values and be a person for and with others when working with immigrant communities. I hope to handle immigration cases with empathy and understanding while acknowledging the lessons that I will learn from these experiences. 

Anh Nguyet Phan

  1. What area of social justice work are you most passionate about? I am most passionate about the social justice issues surrounding healthcare. The U.S. spends more on healthcare for individuals than any other country, yet this increase in expenditure has not translated to more accessibility, quality healthcare, and higher life expectancy for American lives. This past year, the pandemic has really highlighted how vital access to healthcare is as many struggle to access tests and treatments. I want to learn and get involved in this to help individuals and communities get the care that they so desperately need.
  2. What has been the best part of your CBL Intern experience? The best part of my CBL Intern experience is getting highly involved in my Worcester community through my work at the Worcester Public Library and at Woodland Academy. I have met so many incredible individuals who have shared with me their passions and dreams, as well as their worries and concerns. My first year, I was fortunate enough to work with a group of adults of various ages to help them study for their citizenship exam. Being an immigrant to the U.S. and having gone through what they are currently going through, this opportunity really hit home for me. My sophomore, junior and senior years, I was able to work in my elementary school, Woodland, with my 6th grade teacher. These experiences made me feel purposeful, grateful, and pure bliss.
  3. After graduation, how will you carry the lessons and values of CBL with you? My experiences through CBL have taught me to be a better listener and a more reflective person. These skills are crucial in my everyday life, and will become extremely important down the line as I navigate through dental school and work as a dentist. Being able to actively listen to the patients and reflect on their concerns is a vital asset that I will always carry with me. Equally as important, CBL has really taught me the value of being a person for and with others. Service has been a cornerstone in my life. Worcester has given my family and I endless support and resources to help us flourish when we first arrived here. Now, I am trying to give back a fraction of what they have given me and my family. However, for me, becoming a person for and with others goes beyond acts of giving and charitable service. Instead, it means finding a central love, understanding, and acceptance for all people. As a future dentist this means seeing beyond my patients’ illnesses, and seeking to understand how their beliefs, culture, and other external factors contribute to who they are.

Jack Slania

  1. What area of social justice work are you most passionate about? My largest fascination with social justice and social change has easily been surrounding education. My family is full of educators, from professors to middle school teachers to special education aides. In our lives, education is often taken for granted, especially when we consider the stark disparities in the quality of education received by children of different backgrounds. I’ve spent a lot of time grappling with questions of education during my time as a volunteer in the Worcester Public Schools and with the Nativity School of Worcester, and I look forward to working more closely on education reform as I pursue a career in government and public policy.
  2. What has been the best part of your CBL Intern experience? The best part of my time as a CBL intern has been facilitating and participating in the language circle through the Worcester Public Library. It’s been fantastic to keep up with my Italian skills while also getting to know different Italian speakers in the area, whether they be other college students or natives of the Italian country and language.
  3. After graduation, how will you carry the lessons and values of CBL with you? I am in fact in a course this semester with Prof. Sterk Barrett of the CBL office dedicated to precisely the question of how to be “for and with others” after we leave the Hill. My experiences in CBL and with questions of service, justice, and faith will be absolutely central to my identity as a professional. At this point, I’m remaining patient about what my next steps might be. Above all, I want to be certain that who I work for and what I’m doing is making the world a better place, regardless of how long it might take to find the right fit.

Share your Magis

The “Share your Magis” talks is an end-of-year public speaking competition where select seniors are invited to give 3-minute talks describing what they learned during their time at Holy Cross. This year, senior CBL Interns, Gabi Beaulieu ’21 and Jack Slania ’21 were two of the selected speakers. Their talks focused on how community engagement was central to their Holy Cross experiences. This post contains transcripts of their talks. Watch all of the talks on Holy Cross’ YouTube channel. 

Gabi Beaulieu

When I reflect back on my time at Holy Cross, the opportunity to serve as a CBL Intern has been the most meaningful aspect of my college experience, as it has influenced my personal growth, my understanding of a Jesuit education and service, and my career path. I was first exposed to CBL through my Montserrat course, where I began volunteering at St. Mary Health Care Center. I was introduced to Sr. Marie, the resident I would visit with weekly, and at first, I viewed her as an elderly-women who was often lonely and isolated. With this mindset, I believed my purpose was to visit with her and brighten her day. However, through my continued visits and reflection sessions with the Donelan Office, I came to realize that my perspective on service was all wrong. The true purpose of CBL is to form relationships with members of the Worcester community and learn about their lives and experiences. When we do this, we bring to light a person’s humanity and can recognize the mutuality that exists between us all, despite our different backgrounds and where we come from. With this adjustment in my mindset, my time with Sr. Marie became more meaningful than ever before. She became one of my closest friends and when I reflect on our relationship, I realize that she has done more for me than I have for her; she truly has been the one to brighten my days. My relationship with Sr. Marie built a desire in me to become more involved in the Worcester community and apply to be a CBL Intern.

CBL has shown me that there is always more I can learn and always something I can be doing to serve the community. CBL opened my eyes to the social injustices that exist in our community and has challenged me to think about service in ways I never did before. I learned to be comfortable being uncomfortable, as it is through our discomfort that we grow and enter into true solidarity with others. I have learned that a crucial aspect of service is critical reflection and being a CBL Intern has provided me with countless opportunities to reflect on my experiences. I’ve had conversations with both faculty members and students that have enabled me to more deeply unpack and understand my experiences, as well as hear about the experiences of others. These conversations have challenged my perspectives and enhanced my personal, spiritual, and academic growth. CBL has unified my education and service experiences and taught me the importance of continuing both. I have come to understand how a Jesuit education encourages students to excel in scholarship and make a commitment to improve society by means of service to others. I have learned that at the core of service is relationships, for it is only when we enter into relationship with those around us that we can truly be men and women for and with others. Lastly, if it had not been for CBL or my relationship with Sr. Marie, I never would have realized that a career in physical therapy is what I would want to pursue. I want to work as a PT in a nursing home where I can continue to enter into relationships with others and build the community that my time on the hill has taught me to cherish.

Jack Slania

If I had to describe my time at Holy Cross very briefly, I could do it in two words – music and community. When I entered the College, I was definitely way more focused on the former, even arriving on campus early to participate in band camp with the marching band. It was during band camp that I met some of the most amazing musicians and people and some of my best friends to this day. We started playing music together and formed our band “SCONE” which has remained a cornerstone of my time here. In addition to playing with the marching band and SCONE, I played the trumpet in the jazz ensemble, concert band, concert orchestra – basically finding every capacity to get involved with music during that first semester. 

It wasn’t until my second semester on the Hill that I got involved with the second core piece of my time here – community engagement. I signed up for the Spring Break Immersion Program and was assigned to Newport, VA. Newport was a small Appalachian community dealing with a crisis. There was a pipeline set to cut right through the heart of the historic town center, disrupting the tight-knit community. This reality rattled me. Before this trip, I had never been pressed to seriously engage with questions of social justice, service, and faith, but I can truly say that I returned from the trip a changed person. I was way more open and willing to get involved in settings of community engagement, signing up for SPUD, CBL, Working for Worcester, and additional Spring Break Immersion Programs. I am involved in many of these to this day, serving as a CBL Intern and as a member of the leadership team for both Working for Worcester and Spring Break Immersion.

It was during my new involvement with these community engagement programs that I began to see in the inherent connection between the music I had already loved and the community engagement that I was beginning to fall in love with. I noticed this connection during performances with SCONE, particularly at fundraisers. The power of performance, I noticed, was a tool for community building between members of our campus and leaders in Worcester. 

I noticed this connection again during my time abroad in Florence, Italy. I joined a refugee assistance program called “Anelli Mancanti”, serving as an English teacher. It was through this program that I met some Florence natives and we began playing music together, eventually forming a band. Through my time with Anelli Mancanti and through the universal language of music, I made some of my strongest connections during that semester abroad. 

I again have noticed the connection between music and community through a project I am completing this semester at the Nativity Middle School here in Worcester. The initiative is to supplement and advocate for the creation of a music program at the school, since the students do not currently have access to one. 

I am truly grateful for the opportunity to have been able to take advantage of the community engagement programs that are so central to the Holy Cross experience. But, what I am even more grateful for is the fact that I was able to fuse my love for music that I had before Holy Cross with the components of community that are at the core of our Jesuit education.

If I had to summarize, I’d say that I entered Holy Cross as a musician, but am leaving as a man for and with others.

“Four Years of Community Engagement: What Does Building Community Mean?” – Caitlin Grant ’21

“In this universe we are given two gifts: the ability to love, and the ability to ask questions. Which are, at the same time, the fires that warm us and the fires that scorch us.”

 — Mary Oliver

As a first year, I had little idea of what my four years at Holy Cross would look like and I honestly struggled to see a future for myself on Mount St. James.  I found it difficult to foster a sense of “home” in this uncharted territory that is college.  Amidst the confusion I felt, I found comfort in my time with Community-Based Learning and my weekly visits to Ascentria Care Alliance.  Every week gave me something to look forward to; I felt a sense of anticipation as each week brought new challenges and learning opportunities.  Further, the weeks allowed me to grow in my connection to the young woman I was engaging with; as an unaccompanied refugee minor from Guatemala she was struggling to learn the English language and our time usually consisted of conversational and vocabulary English language exercises.  I felt as though I connected to her in some ways, although to an entirely different extent, we shared a common humanity of navigating a new sense of belonging in foreign territory.  I knew this experience was more than solely a learning experience for my class.  I found myself in a situation where I felt genuine human connection alongside a fervent desire to learn more about the English Language Learner experience in the United States as I questioned why our education system allowed for bright, intelligent students to fall behind because of their linguistic status.  My time engaging with Ascentria was a small and individual experience of community and lit a desire to further grow my community at Holy Cross.

These unparalleled feelings and the encouragement from my Montserrat Professor, Ginny Ryan, led me to apply to be a CBL Intern.  I knew I wanted to be a part of a cohort that engaged in questions regarding social justice.  However it was not until I was immersed in this group that I truly grasped the meaning and value of community, especially one that embodies the Jesuit mantra of being individuals “for and with others.”  The Donelan Office provides a safe space for these questions to be asked, discussion to occur, and friendships to flourish.  There is something undeniably powerful that occurs when a small group of students, fostering countless perspectives, all passionate about social justice and dedicated to change, come together as one unit in a space dedicated to preserving and growing these ideals.  Each year as an intern I found myself creating more friendships in the CBL office and in the Worcester community with the Worcester Public Schools Transition Program than I could have imagined.  My young first-year-self did not grasp the impact that having a community would have on my college experience until I found myself in the depths of it.  When friendships are forged with a shared belief in something greater than oneself, in this case the passion for social justice, there is no limit to the growth that the relationship will experience.

My original perception that the CBL office was a necessary component of the harmony of the CBL community was proved wrong during the COVID-19 pandemic.  The values of our community were too strong for the pandemic to corrode, we continued to meet over ZOOM and strengthened our individual connections with one another turning to creative virtual measures to connect and to continue our discourse.  There is truly no obstacle that can impede a dedicated group of people with a shared bond and united purpose.

Ultimately, being invited to join the CBL community and then opening myself to the experience gave me sense of personal purpose as I discovered a passion that has influenced my educational, career, and life aspirations.  It is rare to find a place that as Mary Oliver describes it nurtures “the ability to love” and “the ability to ask questions” simultaneously. Yet, this feels almost effortless in the CBL community, surrounded by people who through their love for one another create a space where there is always more to ask.  I am forever grateful to Isabelle, Michelle, and the past & present CBL Interns for providing me with the most beautiful sense of community I could have imagined these past four years.

Community is shared purpose. Community is love.  Community is asking more of yourself, each other and the world.