Finding New Horizons

“Finding New Horizons,” Jake Medina ’16

When I first came to Holy Cross, I had two big questions:

  • Would Holy Cross transform me into a better person?
  • Would I be able to make a lasting impact on my home for four years?

I am proud to say that I know the answer to my first question. I will permanently be a more confident, intelligent, connected person due to my time at Holy Cross. The second question is more difficult to assess. How does one measure one’s own impact?

As I begin my senior year, my goal is to answer question two with a “yes.” I have no doubt that I put my best effort into changing the environment around me. I volunteered my time, redefined my understanding of morality, and constantly pushed myself to new limits. I see positive results from my work—I know that I impacted lives and that is something I will carry with me for the rest of my life.

However, as I face the end of my time at Holy Cross, I must confront the fact that I will not be in Worcester for much longer. Now, the most important word in my second question is “lasting.” Will my impact last after I leave or will the systems I put in place graduate with me?

My passion during my time at Holy Cross has been working with Worcester students. They inspire me, make me smile, and provide solace on my most difficult days. As much as I love working with them, I also realize they are being failed by America’s education system. The blame cannot be placed on anyone specifically as all the Worcester educators I worked with are amazing people doing their best in a difficult situation. Still, Worcester students deserve better.

I am not foolish enough to think that I can change an entire system, but I want to make my mark before I leave. With a team of students, I fundraised for and purchased 17 tablets equipped with keyboards and headphones. Recognizing the need for access to technology and a fun, interactive way to learn, our team of students equipped each tablet with various educational games on subjects ranging from art and music to ESL, math, and science.

The tablets went out to two after-school programs last spring/summer and we hope to add over ten more sites in Worcester this fall. Our goal is that whenever a Holy Cross student leaves campus to tutor, they will leave with an educational tablet.

So far, the results are amazing. I taught students how to type their name for the first time, watched a young boy smile as he learned multiplication tables to zap zombies on the tablet, and saw countless “aha” moments as students connected with their education.

We hope the impact of tablets will not end in Worcester and are preparing documents to file a nonprofit under the name “Student Empowerment Program.” Our team plans to export our model to other colleges and universities in struggling school districts.

Have I made a lasting impact on my home for four years? How does one measure one’s own impact? I cannot say that I know the answer to either of these questions, but I certainly hope that when I come back for my Holy Cross reunions, I will see students getting ready to volunteer and make a difference, holding tablets in their arms.