This past Wednesday, 4/18, was known as “J.D. Power Day” in dedication to J.D. Power III (‘53)’s $3 million gift to the newly named J.D. Power Center for Liberal Arts in the World. A primary goal of this Center has been to engage students with experiential learning opportunities throughout their time at Holy Cross. After reading more about J.D. Power, I have learned that he “championed the voice of the customer,” and provided company executives insight into what their consumer market truly sought in a product. For example, J.D. Power went before McCulloch Motors executives in 1965 urging them to redesign their heavy, industrial-grade chainsaws into something lighter and more accessible for the everyday consumer. Power’s ability to place himself in the shoes of the consumer, and value the consumer’s opinion in designing a product has provided him an edge throughout his career. His attributes of listening and challenging the status quo have been molded into the new Center, with its opportunities for student-driven entrepreneurship projects, and academic internships across disciplines.
I have had the privilege of engaging with the Donelan Office of Community-Based Learning, a program that, to borrow from the Jesuit Volunteer Corps motto, allows students to “prepare to change for good” (and a program that is now a part of the J.D. Power Center). With each visit to a community partner, each encounter with a newfound friend at Woodland Academy or Worcester East, each story heard at Ascentria Care Alliance, each reflection session, Holy Cross students are given a springboard into a social justice-driven mindset. Just as J.D. Power cultivates ideas with the consumer in mind, so too has CBL allowed students to enter into their future work environment with the underserved in mind.
This form of experiential learning cannot be “unlearned,” or forgotten after students leave Mount St. James. It is my opinion that in their time with CBL, students are shaped by the people they meet, the stories they receive and the experiences they encounter. The sheer multitude of transcending classroom experiences stays with students long after their graduation from Holy Cross, and informs the decision they make in the workforce as alumni.
Through CBL’s own format of experiential learning, I have become shaped by the Worcester community around me—something I never envisioned for myself heading into my first-year Montserrat seminar. I am so grateful for the CBL office, and I know that I speak on behalf of the CBL interns when I say how grateful I am for J.D. Power’s generous gift to the CBL office, and the other programs in the new Center.