“Service Beyond Scrubs” – Courtney Yockel ’25

When I arrived at Holy Cross in August 2021, I thought I wanted to pursue a career in medicine. Having developed a passion for science in middle school, the unexpected loss of my father due to an undiagnosed medical condition, and the onslaught of the pandemic, I convinced myself that God was calling me to serve others through a healthcare profession. I told myself that the acts of service I had performed throughout high school, such as making donations, spending summers working with children from vulnerable populations, and educating myself on issues of race and discrimination were significant, but I could do more. I was placing a high value on the service of healthcare.

During my sophomore year at Holy Cross,  I began to seriously consider studying to become a physician’s assistant or a nurse practitioner following graduation. However, over winter break, shadowing in an outpatient surgeon’s office and nearly fainting at the sight of a scalpel and a drop of blood, I realized that I could not work in a medical field. I began to feel increasingly disappointed and confused. I had to find a new path that combined my interest in healthcare and serving others. 

When I returned to campus following winter break, I began volunteering at the Mustard Seed Catholic Worker. Home to a food pantry and kitchen, the Mustard Seed offers free meals to Worcester residents who lack basic meal services and resources. Through working with the Mustard Seed’s clientele, I began to appreciate the simple means of serving others, such as smiling, making eye contact, and engaging in conversation. I began to understand the power that serving a warm meal to individuals who are frequently patronized by society, such as veterans, the homeless, those with disabilities, and those recovering from addictions, can have on uplifting the human spirit and one’s sense of dignity. This form of service has value and is very significant.

As I look forward to my junior year and embrace a new path, majoring in Biology and minoring in Environmental Studies, I am excited for the possibilities that lie ahead. I am looking forward to exploring the avenues of public health and environmental justice. I am reminded of the poem about the value of even the smallest acts of kindness, which speaks to the idea that even if we’re only able to help one person, the work we do is still meaningful. I am now comfortable with exploring a new path outside of direct patient care. I realize that there are so many ways to serve others in a meaningful way and make a difference. 

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