It’s Okay to Be Selfish Sometimes

Holy Cross has some of the most motivated students around.  One of the great things about our motivation is how it reaches beyond our academic lives and into the Worcester community.  With over 96% of students having participated in some sort of service program before graduation, it’s safe to say Holy Cross  places great emphasis on serving the community.

Many students don’t realize that this service is a two-way street.  Other students do realize this mutual benefit and struggle to unpack the complications of selfishness in “charity.”  Well, I think it’s okay to be selfish sometimes.  Before you’re too off-put by this statement, hear me out.  I know we live in a culture that tends to look down upon selfishness.  And generally, selfishness is something that deserves to be looked down upon.  But when it comes to service, it’s hard to escape the fact that we can leave feeling that we’ve gotten more out of it than we’ve put in (oftentimes because this is the case).

I think it’s okay to embrace this dynamic for all its inescapability.  On a personal note, I grew up in an environment that completely sheltered me from many of the injustices I’ve learned about through my community engagement.  Although the mark I’ve left on the Worcester community is small in its reach, the mark Worcester has left on me will influence all my pursuits as I look to the future.

Social justice is something I rarely gave serious consideration before I came to Holy Cross.  But after three years of involvement in my community, social justice has become integral to my plans for after graduation.  After seeing the “gritty reality of the world,” I can’t help but feel convicted to use my opportunities and privileges toward positive change–even if it’s a small one.

So, I have to wonder if embracing the selfish aspects of service means becoming aware of the world in a way that was never possible before, then what do you have to lose?


–Rachel Greenberg ’15

CBL Spotlight: Kristen from Ascentria Care Alliance

In the spring semester of my freshman year, I began working at a new CBL site, where I first met Kristen, the Community Coordinator and Case Manager of the Unaccompanied Refugee Minors Program at Ascentria Care Alliance. From the very first tutoring session, I was struck by Kristen’s sincerity, unwavering positivity, leadership skills and effortless ability to connect with the clients.

Over the course of the semester, I also grew to admire Kristen for her humility, evident in the fact that she would repeatedly apologize for her “broken Spanish,” although her language skills were nearly impeccable. Week after week, Kristen took a “quiet” leadership approach when conducting group lessons or discussions, always making an effort to listen to the concerns of Holy Cross students and the clients. She worked tirelessly to create a welcoming and enjoyable environment at our sessions, making sure that both Holy Cross students and the clients felt comfortable around one another. Because of her exceptional approachability, I immediately felt less anxious in this new environment.

It was obvious that she was a “pro” at working with these vulnerable immigrant teens, who had just arrived alone in a foreign country, sometimes without any family or friends. Her friendly and calm demeanor made her a natural for the field, as the youth always sought out her advice and help when they felt frustrated or had a bad day at school. Likewise, Kristen was the first person who the clients would speak to about their various accomplishments, like receiving a good grade or winning their soccer game.

In watching Kristen skillfully navigate the highs and lows of working with such a vulnerable group of kids, I was inspired to become more deeply involved in service work. Kristen’s commitment to the clients and passion for serving everyone made me realize the importance of serving others and taking the time to get to know these clients. In having the opportunity to work alongside Kristen at my CBL site, I am beginning to understand the importance of fostering kinship and becoming a woman with others. In learning more about Kristen’s background and in working with her over this past year, I have come to realize that she truly embodies God’s idea of a community, where “no one is standing outside [God’s circle of compassion]” (Boyle, 190).

After working with Kristen for several months now, it was a humbling experience to learn more about how her faith has given her the strength to engage in service every day. Her story is particularly relatable to young individuals, including myself, who struggle to understand why cruel inequities exist in the world. It is fortunate that good-hearted people like Kristen live in our society, as she has bravely committed herself to tackle the messy injustices that most people try to ignore. Her honesty, humility and generosity are inspiring and refreshing, as these qualities are rare in our fairly individualistic and materialistic society.

In my opinion, Kristen embodies God’s ideal vision for humanity, as she hasn’t “forgotten that we belong to one another,” as Mother Teresa said (Boyle, 187). Kristen’s unwavering commitment and passion for service work over the years is a testament to her exceptional character, as she could have easily succumbed to the stress of the job. Overall, Kristen is inspiring, as she has empowered the most powerless population and has courageously accepted God’s call to service. It is clear that Kristen has discovered her God-given vocation and has lived out the mission mentioned in her favorite quote by Frederick Buechner: “The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.”

–Shea ’17