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!