“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!