Every fall for the past three years, I have helped high school students write their college essays as my CBL site. When I started working for this program, I had the mindset that most Holy Cross students have while doing community service – I thought that I was going to make a huge impact on all of their lives. I was wrong. I know this sounds cheesy, but the students have taught me so much more about life and what’s important than I can even begin to teach them.
Before working with these students I thought I was a strong person who could overcome any challenge that may get in my way. However, I have never really been in a position yet, especially during my childhood, that I needed to deal with a very difficult situation. In the course of my time at this CBL site, I’ve read about 60 college essays, and every single one of them has proven to me what true strength is.
I have worked with a student who lived in a one-room shack in India with 10 people and no running water. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting two students who came to the U.S. from Iraq during the war. I’ve gotten to know a student who has struggled to tell his family that he is gay. I’ve worked with a student who was homeless for three years. I’ve talked at length with a student who lived in a Refugee camp in Nepal. And those are only a few examples of the amazing people I have worked with over the years at my site. Despite these incredible challenges, all of them are so determined to rise above their difficult situations and make better lives for themselves through education.
I have found that the key to CBL is being open to really getting to know the population you are interacting with on a weekly basis. The more that I’ve learned about the students on a personal level, the more I’ve been able to critically look at myself and think about how I want to live my own life.
Kristen Kelley, ’15