“Why I decided to apply to become a CBL Intern” – Anh Nguyet Phan ’21

Conflicted on whether or not to apply to the Community-Based Learning Intern program? 

Well let me tell you how I got involved and how thankful I currently am four years later as a senior at Holy Cross! Three years ago, I was a freshman who had my eyes set on doing well in my science classes to achieve my long term goal of becoming a dentist. I was a very ambitious student, taking the three STEM classes that everyone advised not to take together: chemistry, biology, and calculus. My fourth class, my Montserrat class, was a class that my naive freshman self thought would not be useful and enjoyable because it was not related to the field of science. However, to this day, my Montserrat class ended up being one my favorite classes I have taken at Holy Cross, and a class that I will always be thankful for because it introduced me to CBL.

Freshman year, I was given the great opportunity to volunteer at the Worcester Public Library to help adults of varying ages study for the citizenship exam. To some, this experience might be another service opportunity; however, to me, it meant a lot more that I was able to help with something so close to my heart. Being an immigrant myself and having to go through the citizenship exam to get my citizenship, I know how much pressure and work the whole process is. Being able to help these folks take a step closer at achieving their dreams meant everything to me- and it still does. Seeing not only the positive impact that I had, but also the impact that the opportunity had on me, I knew that I wanted to apply to the CBL Intern Program. 

In addition, through CBL, I was able to reconnect with my 6th grade teacher at my elementary school, Worcester Academy, as I volunteered in her classroom during my sophomore and junior year. Just over ten years ago, I was a kid that was struggling to read, write, and speak the English language. Who I am today is largely because of the amount of work, time, and effort that Woodland Academy put into me during my time there. To be able to give back a little of what my elementary school and teachers had given me is an absolute privilege, and I cannot be thankful enough to CBL for allowing me to do so. This experience revealed to me just how much I love the Worcester community, how much I want to learn more about it, and how much I want to give back to it. Through CBL, I am able to do all of this, and this realization also pushed me to apply for the CBL Intern Program at the end of my freshman year. 

In addition to this, other aspects of the program also intrigued and excited me. I was most looking forward to building my communication and leadership skills through working with community partners, students, and staff. From being a CBL Intern for the last three years, I can confidently say that I have accomplished this and much more. CBL not only helped me become a more well-rounded student, but also a well-rounded Worcester resident and individual. Ever since freshman year, CBL has become my family, and I feel so thankful and fortunate to be a part of this program. If you share the same excitement for Worcester and CBL, I highly encourage you to consider applying!

“Why I Applied to the CBL Intern Program and Advice for Applicants” – Gabi Beaulieu ’21

My Montserrat course had a huge impact on my time at Holy Cross, and specifically, its CBL component greatly influenced my experience here on the hill. For my CBL, I chose to volunteer at St. Mary Health Care Center, and three years later, I’m still there. The relationship I formed with my resident, Sr. Marie, was so special to me. I loved learning about her life and how much she had done for Worcester. My week wasn’t complete unless I got to spend time chatting, laughing, and playing games with Sr. Marie. What was most unexpected to me about my relationship with Sr. Marie was how much it taught me about service. I learned that service isn’t about doing things for other people, it’s about mutual relationships. Over the three years I spent with Sr. Marie, she became one of my closest friends here in Worcester. I loved our time together and our visits meant just as much to me, if not more, as they did to her. Service is about getting to know the people in our community and recognizing that each of us has so much to gain from the relationships we can form.

I became a CBL intern because I wanted to share the experience I had with other students. I want to help other students see how much they can gain by becoming a part of the Worcester community, and I want to share these experiences together. I became a CBL intern because I wanted to find more ways to be involved in the Worcester community and learn more about the social justice issues that surround us. The CBL community has allowed me to reflect on my experiences, join in on important conversations, and grow into the person I wanted to become.

When I applied to be a CBL intern, I focused a lot on my essay. As I thought about how to answer the questions, I realized how influential my CBL experience had been. I focused on my time at St. Mary and my relationship with Sr. Marie. I wrote about the friendship we had formed and how special my time with her was. As I wrote my essay, I reflected on how much my relationship with Sr. Marie had taught me. It was in writing my essay that I began to realize how much Sr. Marie taught me about service and how much I had grown in my understanding of what it means to be men and women for and with others. When writing my essay, I had a whole new appreciation for CBL and how it had influenced my time at Holy Cross. As I went about the application process it became even more clear to me how much I wanted to be a part of the CBL intern community. I remember being very nervous for my interview, my heart racing and hands shaking as I sat outside the Donelan Office and waited for Isabelle to call my name. However, I also remember how comfortable Isabelle, Michelle, and the interns made me feel. The interview felt more like a conversation, and I loved learning more about the CBL intern program and experiences the interns had. Although there were moments when the application process felt stressful, overall it made me realize how wonderful CBL is and how much I wanted to continue my experience with CBL as an intern.

My advice for students who want to apply to be a CBL intern is to be honest and reflective in the application process. How has CBL influenced your time at Holy Cross? What have you learned about service, Worcester, and yourself throughout your CBL experiences? How would becoming an intern enhance your CBL experience? Use the essay and the interview as a way to look back on all the positive experiences you’ve had with CBL. Also, if you’re at all like me and the interview seems to be a nerve-wracking experience, take a deep breath and remember that we just want to hear about your experiences with CBL. Lastly, ask questions! It shows your interest and desire to become a part of the CBL intern community.

“Applying to the CBL Intern Program” – Sarah Ayers ’23

I still remember how nervous I was sitting in a circle with seven of my classmates during my first CBL reflection session last year. It was the first time I actively reflected on the service I was doing. In high school, I volunteered at soup kitchens, food banks, and my local elementary school, but I never took the time to reflect on those experiences afterwards. As I sat with my Montserrat classmates talking about my time at Herd Street Elementary School or Ascentria Care Alliance, I began to realize the power of reflection. I learned about Toxic Charity, or the concept that despite our best intentions, service is not always helpful and can be degrading to the recipients of service. I learned about the idea of reciprocity and experienced firsthand how service is beneficial both for the person giving and receiving. My first year at Holy Cross changed my mindset regarding community engagement, and it made me realize that I do not just want service to be another extra-curricular activity I add to my resumé. I wanted service to be a central part of my college experience.

I knew Holy Cross offered students many ways to get involved with the Worcester community, but I also knew that one of the best parts of my Montserrat was getting to hear about other students’ experiences. Listening to my classmates reflect on their days at their CBL site often deepened my understanding of my own service. Also, I wanted to continue reflecting on social justice issues outside of an academic setting with other students who were passionate about the topic. Furthermore, I wanted to help other students understand service the same way the CBL interns who led our reflection sessions helped me. With all of these thoughts in mind during the spring of my first year I decided to apply to be a CBL Intern, so that I could continue participating in service, reflecting on my service, and learning from others.

The first step of the process was relatively simple. As I sat writing out answers to the various questions on the application, I began to realize how much the position meant to me. It was yet another chance for me to consider the ways in which my time at my CBL site impacted me. My time working with third graders during my first semester offered much needed relief from the constant stress of never-ending classes and assignments. During my second semester, I sat in a classroom with fourteen recent immigrants learning English grammar and pronunciation. All of the people I met were from different countries and spoke different languages. I began to recognize how difficult it is to learn the English language, and I learned about the struggles and persecution immigrants face in America. I wrote about these two vastly different yet eye-opening experiences in my response to the essay questions. I found that the initial application offered me the opportunity to reflect on my own interest in the program and what I was hoping to gain from the experience if I was selected. This also happened to be extremely helpful for the next step in the intern selection process.

The final step in the process, the interview, was certainly the part I was most worried about. I was unsure if I would be able to accurately express my interest in the program and articulate the ways my CBL experience influenced my time at Holy Cross. However, I was grateful to find that the interview was relatively conversational, and the reflection I did while preparing my written application certainly made it easier to relay my experiences to the interns who interviewed me. Despite my worries about the process and the brief anxiety I felt during that time period, I am happy to say that being a CBL intern continues to be the most rewarding activity I participate in at Holy Cross. Every day I am inspired by the people I meet through my service site, my fellow CBL interns, and other students involved with CBL. The application process proved to be far less daunting than I made it out to be, and I am forever grateful for the connections and experiences I gained through this community.