“A Different Holy Cross” -Erica Schofield ’25

This semester, Holy Cross is different. Whether it is different for everyone, I don’t know, but the Holy Cross I have known with all of my fellow class of 2025 classmates on campus and the familiar faces of my friends in the class of 2023 no longer. This semester, three of my closest friends are studying abroad: two in Dublin and one in Australia, along with many of my other classmates and the class of 2023 is figuring out post-grad life. Up until lately, I resented this change and was even afraid of it. 

When August rolled around and I came back to campus after moving my little sister into college, I found myself worrying about new classes, not having some of my closest friends on campus, my sister getting acclimated, and my parents adjusting to being empty-nesters. 

During our CBL orientation, we were asked to describe how we were feeling in one world, both at the beginning and end of the session. At the start of orientation, I said “excited”. At the end, we went around again. Delaney, a senior Intern, said “whole” and when it came around to me, I found myself echoing her. Up until that moment, I didn’t realize that I was waiting for the fulfillment I get through the community of the CBL Intern program and my CBL placement at Girls Inc. 

CBL makes me whole. 

In preparation for this blog post, I’ve been thinking a lot about my time at Holy Cross so far and the most impactful experiences I’ve had here. I was unbelievably lucky to have a Montserrat with a CBL component and through that, have found Girls Inc. and been accepted into the CBL Intern cohort. I’ve volunteered at Girls Inc. since then and truly haven’t looked back. As I’m writing this, I just went back to Girls Inc. to start my third year there, just like I am starting my third year on campus. It’s funny to think when I started volunteering at Girls Inc. I worried about fitting in there and enjoying myself. The connections I have found there have been influential to my personal growth, understanding of social justice in practice, and my connectedness to the Holy Cross and Worcester community. 

To sit at a meeting with the other Interns, people who also fiercely believe in the importance of community-based learning, is truly like nothing else I have ever experienced. Every Intern is driven to be a “person for and with others” and brings lived experiences and community partner connections. Furthermore, community-based learning at its core, transcends religion, politics, and other social divisions in the pursuit of positive change through civic engagement. 

It would be presumptuous to say that my worries about this year and the life transitions I am experiencing have subsided due to CBL, but CBL roots me in accepting and embracing this change. My work at Girls Inc. is the reason I am so motivated in class, so willing to engage with people I don’t know well, and so determined to discern how I will incorporate CBL’s mission into my career and life post-grad.

“Thoughts for My Final Year of CBL” -Anthony Mabardy ’24

As my final year as a Community Based Learning (CBL) Intern begins, I thought that reflecting on my last three years of experience and expressing my goals for this year would be beneficial to having a successful experience. Throughout my CBL experience, I have had wonderful opportunities to work with young students in Worcester as a tutor at multiple schools in the city. My first and second years, I volunteered as an after-school tutor at The Nativity School of Worcester, a private Jesuit school in Worcester that gives low-income students the opportunity to receive a private education for free. My first year I tutored completely online, which often made it difficult to teach as well as connect with the students. This is especially because they were young and had trouble focusing while using Zoom for a long period of time. My second year, I was able to work at The Nativity School in person. During this time, I learned a lot about myself and my ability to connect with others. By building strong relationships with the students, I learned about the impact a friendly relationship and a comfortable environment can have on a student both academically and personally. This idea also benefited me personally. This past school year, I volunteered at Worcester East Middle School as an assistant in a seventh grade English class. This was a very rewarding experience, as I was able to connect with a plethora of students. My main task was to motivate the students to do their assignments with maximum effort, explaining to them why they are important and interesting assignments.

Based on the wonderful experiences I have had the last three years as a member of the CBL program, I hope to have a strong final year. This year, I want to focus on the little moments during my volunteering and be able to appreciate every piece that has made me who I am today. I want to take this year to develop more connections as ways to help others as well as myself. I want to fully embrace myself in the culture and mission of the community partner that I am working with. This will be to maximize the experience for both those I am working with and myself. I hope that by doing this, I can connect more with the community around me in Worcester as well as the specific community partner that I am working with.