A Senior CBL Intern’s Reflections

A few weeks ago, I had my first true realization that my time at Holy Cross is quickly coming to an end. For me, this is my last semester of classes at Holy Cross, since I will be spending the upcoming Spring semester student teaching at Burncoat Middle School. So as I was writing down everything I had to do before the last day of classes, it hit me: this is the last time I’ll have to write papers, complete projects, and study for exams until I go to grad school. As many (if not all) Holy Cross students know, this time of the year is filled with long stints in Dinand, to-do lists as long as that 5-page paper I have to write, and an increase in coffee intake in order to make up for the decrease in sleep. These things can be undoubtedly overwhelming, as this crunch time is filled with things we have to do in order to get that good grade we are striving for. However, as I was looking through that long, daunting list of papers, homework assignments, and meetings, one thing on my list that I technically have to do is also something that I look forward to doing every week, something that brings me so much joy and fulfills me with a great sense of purpose: CBL.

During my time at Holy Cross, I have taken more CBL classes than I can count (I think about 1/4th of the classes I have taken here have had a CBL component). I have had the opportunities to tutor middle school students, observe fantastic teachers in their classrooms, and work with African refugees on Saturday mornings. These experiences have not only helped me with the work I had for my CBL classes – and believe me, these were experiences that were incredibly meaningful in relation to the content that I was studying at the time. However, I didn’t expect that CBL was going to become the thing I most wanted to do at Holy Cross. From my first experience in the Worcester community Freshman year, I have thrived off of participating in the Worcester community; I often felt lost and out of place when I did not have a CBL to go to, or when I was home on break and didn’t have to go into the schools to help tutor. In this sense, CBL truly became a part of me – CBL became something that I couldn’t live without, something I looked forward to, something that kept me going during the toughest of weeks. In essence, CBL has truly been my saving grace: it has been my light at the end of the tunnel, my opportunity to break away from the stressful Holy Cross atmosphere and immerse myself in the Worcester community.

So as I come to the end of my time at Holy Cross, I can’t help but to be so incredibly thankful for my CBL experiences at Holy Cross. I have many people to thank for my fantastic experiences in the Worcester community: to my professors who saw the potential that CBL had to give students an indescribably meaningful experience; to Isabelle Jenkins and Michelle Sterk Barrett, the two women who work tirelessly to make sure every student is having a great CBL experience and always manage to have smiles on their faces and kind words of encouragement when I need it the most; to my fellow CBL Interns, past and present, who put up with my antics and support me in any way they can; to my community partners, who have accepted me into their buildings and communities with open arms; and finally, to Holy Cross, for providing me with the experience of a lifetime. I know I want to continue working in the Worcester community after I graduate, and I have these people, places, and things to thank for that.

Thank you, CBL, for turning my education into an experience.
-Lauren Suprenant ’16

Finding New Horizons

“Finding New Horizons,” Jake Medina ’16

When I first came to Holy Cross, I had two big questions:

  • Would Holy Cross transform me into a better person?
  • Would I be able to make a lasting impact on my home for four years?

I am proud to say that I know the answer to my first question. I will permanently be a more confident, intelligent, connected person due to my time at Holy Cross. The second question is more difficult to assess. How does one measure one’s own impact?

As I begin my senior year, my goal is to answer question two with a “yes.” I have no doubt that I put my best effort into changing the environment around me. I volunteered my time, redefined my understanding of morality, and constantly pushed myself to new limits. I see positive results from my work—I know that I impacted lives and that is something I will carry with me for the rest of my life.

However, as I face the end of my time at Holy Cross, I must confront the fact that I will not be in Worcester for much longer. Now, the most important word in my second question is “lasting.” Will my impact last after I leave or will the systems I put in place graduate with me?

My passion during my time at Holy Cross has been working with Worcester students. They inspire me, make me smile, and provide solace on my most difficult days. As much as I love working with them, I also realize they are being failed by America’s education system. The blame cannot be placed on anyone specifically as all the Worcester educators I worked with are amazing people doing their best in a difficult situation. Still, Worcester students deserve better.

I am not foolish enough to think that I can change an entire system, but I want to make my mark before I leave. With a team of students, I fundraised for and purchased 17 tablets equipped with keyboards and headphones. Recognizing the need for access to technology and a fun, interactive way to learn, our team of students equipped each tablet with various educational games on subjects ranging from art and music to ESL, math, and science.

The tablets went out to two after-school programs last spring/summer and we hope to add over ten more sites in Worcester this fall. Our goal is that whenever a Holy Cross student leaves campus to tutor, they will leave with an educational tablet.

So far, the results are amazing. I taught students how to type their name for the first time, watched a young boy smile as he learned multiplication tables to zap zombies on the tablet, and saw countless “aha” moments as students connected with their education.

We hope the impact of tablets will not end in Worcester and are preparing documents to file a nonprofit under the name “Student Empowerment Program.” Our team plans to export our model to other colleges and universities in struggling school districts.

Have I made a lasting impact on my home for four years? How does one measure one’s own impact? I cannot say that I know the answer to either of these questions, but I certainly hope that when I come back for my Holy Cross reunions, I will see students getting ready to volunteer and make a difference, holding tablets in their arms.