The “Share your Magis” talks is an end-of-year public speaking competition where select seniors are invited to give 3-minute talks describing what they learned during their time at Holy Cross. This year, senior CBL Interns, Gabi Beaulieu ’21 and Jack Slania ’21 were two of the selected speakers. Their talks focused on how community engagement was central to their Holy Cross experiences. This post contains transcripts of their talks. Watch all of the talks on Holy Cross’ YouTube channel.
When I reflect back on my time at Holy Cross, the opportunity to serve as a CBL Intern has been the most meaningful aspect of my college experience, as it has influenced my personal growth, my understanding of a Jesuit education and service, and my career path. I was first exposed to CBL through my Montserrat course, where I began volunteering at St. Mary Health Care Center. I was introduced to Sr. Marie, the resident I would visit with weekly, and at first, I viewed her as an elderly-women who was often lonely and isolated. With this mindset, I believed my purpose was to visit with her and brighten her day. However, through my continued visits and reflection sessions with the Donelan Office, I came to realize that my perspective on service was all wrong. The true purpose of CBL is to form relationships with members of the Worcester community and learn about their lives and experiences. When we do this, we bring to light a person’s humanity and can recognize the mutuality that exists between us all, despite our different backgrounds and where we come from. With this adjustment in my mindset, my time with Sr. Marie became more meaningful than ever before. She became one of my closest friends and when I reflect on our relationship, I realize that she has done more for me than I have for her; she truly has been the one to brighten my days. My relationship with Sr. Marie built a desire in me to become more involved in the Worcester community and apply to be a CBL Intern.
CBL has shown me that there is always more I can learn and always something I can be doing to serve the community. CBL opened my eyes to the social injustices that exist in our community and has challenged me to think about service in ways I never did before. I learned to be comfortable being uncomfortable, as it is through our discomfort that we grow and enter into true solidarity with others. I have learned that a crucial aspect of service is critical reflection and being a CBL Intern has provided me with countless opportunities to reflect on my experiences. I’ve had conversations with both faculty members and students that have enabled me to more deeply unpack and understand my experiences, as well as hear about the experiences of others. These conversations have challenged my perspectives and enhanced my personal, spiritual, and academic growth. CBL has unified my education and service experiences and taught me the importance of continuing both. I have come to understand how a Jesuit education encourages students to excel in scholarship and make a commitment to improve society by means of service to others. I have learned that at the core of service is relationships, for it is only when we enter into relationship with those around us that we can truly be men and women for and with others. Lastly, if it had not been for CBL or my relationship with Sr. Marie, I never would have realized that a career in physical therapy is what I would want to pursue. I want to work as a PT in a nursing home where I can continue to enter into relationships with others and build the community that my time on the hill has taught me to cherish.
If I had to describe my time at Holy Cross very briefly, I could do it in two words – music and community. When I entered the College, I was definitely way more focused on the former, even arriving on campus early to participate in band camp with the marching band. It was during band camp that I met some of the most amazing musicians and people and some of my best friends to this day. We started playing music together and formed our band “SCONE” which has remained a cornerstone of my time here. In addition to playing with the marching band and SCONE, I played the trumpet in the jazz ensemble, concert band, concert orchestra – basically finding every capacity to get involved with music during that first semester.
It wasn’t until my second semester on the Hill that I got involved with the second core piece of my time here – community engagement. I signed up for the Spring Break Immersion Program and was assigned to Newport, VA. Newport was a small Appalachian community dealing with a crisis. There was a pipeline set to cut right through the heart of the historic town center, disrupting the tight-knit community. This reality rattled me. Before this trip, I had never been pressed to seriously engage with questions of social justice, service, and faith, but I can truly say that I returned from the trip a changed person. I was way more open and willing to get involved in settings of community engagement, signing up for SPUD, CBL, Working for Worcester, and additional Spring Break Immersion Programs. I am involved in many of these to this day, serving as a CBL Intern and as a member of the leadership team for both Working for Worcester and Spring Break Immersion.
It was during my new involvement with these community engagement programs that I began to see in the inherent connection between the music I had already loved and the community engagement that I was beginning to fall in love with. I noticed this connection during performances with SCONE, particularly at fundraisers. The power of performance, I noticed, was a tool for community building between members of our campus and leaders in Worcester.
I noticed this connection again during my time abroad in Florence, Italy. I joined a refugee assistance program called “Anelli Mancanti”, serving as an English teacher. It was through this program that I met some Florence natives and we began playing music together, eventually forming a band. Through my time with Anelli Mancanti and through the universal language of music, I made some of my strongest connections during that semester abroad.
I again have noticed the connection between music and community through a project I am completing this semester at the Nativity Middle School here in Worcester. The initiative is to supplement and advocate for the creation of a music program at the school, since the students do not currently have access to one.
I am truly grateful for the opportunity to have been able to take advantage of the community engagement programs that are so central to the Holy Cross experience. But, what I am even more grateful for is the fact that I was able to fuse my love for music that I had before Holy Cross with the components of community that are at the core of our Jesuit education.
If I had to summarize, I’d say that I entered Holy Cross as a musician, but am leaving as a man for and with others.