A First Year in Review

With the year winding down (or maybe not in the case of final papers and exams) I have decided to reflect on all of the contents of my first year as a crusader.

Starting out the year with knowing absolutely no one on campus I had no clue how my first year at college was going to be. Would I make friends? Would I enjoy my classes? Would I stay at Holy Cross after my first year was over? If I could travel back in time I would tell past-me that the answer to all of those questions was a resounding yes.

Some of my best friends are those who I first met during fall orientation.  As I discussed with our friend group last night, while we’ve only known each other since last August, it feels as though I’ve shared a lifetime with them already. Through classes and extra-curricular activities such as mock trial and moot court, I made friends that have impacted me in ways that I never thought were imaginable. When people claim that the Holy Cross community is like a family, they aren’t just saying that to sound cute, they really mean it.

College classes were my second biggest concern. Looking back at all my courses, I can say that I enjoyed every single one so far. All of my professors were dedicated to seeing their students succeed in their classes. And while the course work at Holy Cross is very rigorous, with the right amount of dedication and effort anything is manageable.  The class content has always been interesting and engaging, and I can say that because of my first year of Holy Cross education I have become both a better student and citizen.

I almost laugh at myself when I think back to the time when I thought there might be a chance that I would transfer from Holy Cross at the end of my first year. I wouldn’t trade away any part of my first year at Holy Cross for anything in the world, even those stressful nights studying for exams or writing papers. The friends, the memories I’ve made with those friends, and everything else I experienced during my first year has made a lasting impact on me.

My experiences at Holy Cross have changed me for the better; I wouldn’t trade that away for anything.

My first-year home, Hanselman Hall.

A Campus Away From Campus

While Holy Cross has a wonderful campus with essentially unlimited extracurricular opportunities, I do have to admit that sometimes you develop that need to get away from campus for a few hours. Thankfully, the college has its very own retreat center less than 25 minutes away!

Holy Cross’s retreat center, the Joyce Contemplative Center, presents students with an amazing opportunity to get away from what can sometimes be a busy campus and simply slow things down to reflect on life. Located on a hilltop that overlooks gorgeous hills and a waterway, the JCC always offers an amazing sunset for students to look at! Most of the college’s retreats are held at the JCC. There are retreats for first-year students, the LGBTQ+ community, as well as a variety of other retreats that offer amazing opportunities. I definitely recommend trying to get to the JCC at least once during your first year at Holy Cross!

On a snowy day in February, I and my Montserrat classmates piled into school vans at Hogan to make the journey to the JCC. While pulling up the driveway our gaze was met with a beautiful contemporary building that just screamed: “forget about all your classes for an hour and just relax!” In the snow and cold, we all dashed to the entrance where we were greeted by a cozy crackling fireplace and a spacious dining room. On the left side of the building, there were hotel rooms for overnight retreats and there was a beautiful fully glass contemplation room that overlooks the surrounding nature located in the back of the building where we ended up performing our group presentations.

The main attraction for students is not just the beautiful building, the serene campus, or the escape from coursework. No, what do college students love almost more than anything else? FOOD of course! The JCC is renowned for dishing out some of the tastiest meals every single crusader has ever experienced in their lives. My meal was no different. With chicken parm as the main course with fresh veggies, salad, pasta, and garlic bread as sides I was stuffed. Oh wait, did I forget to mention that they also have freshly baked cookies for dessert?

Whether it’s for the retreat, the beautiful building, the serene campus, or the food; I can’t recommend going to the JCC at least once during your freshmen year!

An aerial shot of the Joyce Contemplative Center during the fall
A view of the deck of the JCC that overlooks the surrounding nature
Take a virtual tour of the JCC!

Night at the Museum Holy Cross Style!

Ever wanted to spend a night at a museum? Well at Holy Cross that is a real possibility! The first-year student Montserrat program held an event where the entire Worcester Art Museum (ranked one of the best art museums in the nation) closed down and was solely open to Holy Cross students!

The event presented the once in a lifetime opportunity to see five famous exhibitions accompanied by equally famous musicians.  One such musician being famed cello player Jan Muller-Szeraws.

While the night’s program was specifically established for students in the Global Voices Cluster, a cluster that I am not part of, my Montserrat class taught by Professor Hooper was graciously extended an invitation to attend. The event was held in such high esteem that everyone on campus was trying to attend the event that night.

Knowing very little about the field of art or the genres of music I was going to experience that night, I didn’t know what to exactly expect. However, on the van ride back to campus late that night, I reflected on the experience and discovered that I really enjoyed the entire event.

Students were able to see famous works of arts by Monet, Jackson Pollock, and a variety of other pieces created by famous artists. Each gallery was paired with a musician, giving students the opportunity to indulge their eyes as well as their ears at the same moment. Taking in the sights and sounds at the same time was truly magical. Even music that was composed by Holy Cross’s very own Professor Shirish Korde was performed for the students!

The night was capped off with an event in the beautiful Renaissance Court where Kevin Chen of the Class 2021 performed an amazing rendition of Maurice Ravel’s Prelude from Le Tombeau de Couperin which was met with deafening and thunderous applause from everyone present in the museum.

The night at the museum was a once in a lifetime opportunity that I am so grateful I was able to experience. I am sure future students will be offered events that parallel in the amazingness of the Global Voices Montserrat’s Night at the Museum!

Hitting the Airwaves with a Bang!

Starting Off with a Bang!

Despite radio being in decline around the country, it is surely not dead at college campuses around the nation, especially at Holy Cross! Throughout the day and night students across campus tune into 88.1FM WCHC to listen to a host of shows created by their very own peers! Holy Cross provides a wide array of shows for everyone’s taste; ranging from sports talk to politics to just your regular music genre station!

A common scene on weeknights is a group of students gathering around a Bluetooth speaker in the common rooms of the dorms listening to the shows of their friends while doing work. Even members of the local Worcester community tune into the station at various times through the stereo systems of their cars. The Holy Cross radio station serves as a way to foster a greater sense of community on campus among the students. Students even have the opportunity to call into a dedicated phone line to be a part of the show themselves!

Essentially, any student has the opportunity to have their very own radio show if they are dedicated enough! All it takes is simply emailing the director to receive training to make sure you are able to operate the equipment and are aware of the FCC rules and regulations.

I was honored this past week by being selected as the first guest on Holy Cross’s very own Jacob Carey’s Sadboi Hours, held on Thursday nights at 11 PM.  The show is dedicated to emotional music that allows individuals to express their feelings. However, the show also features segments that range from pop-culture talk to humorous storying telling that is sure to evoke laughter from everyone listening.

The first airing of the show was received with applause by the greater Holy Cross community. People were posting videos of themselves and friends alike laughing at the commentary of the hosts on their SnapChat stories and other social media platforms.  Upon our return to our dorm building, Jacob and I were met by a gaggle of friends that were ecstatic at the first of many shows to come!

The logo of Sadboi Hours with Jake and Friends
The founder of the show, Jacob Carey

Invasion of the Guest Speakers

Hand in hand with the arrival of second semester on campus comes the arrival of guest speakers sponsored by the McFarland Center. Every couple of weeks the McFarland Center allows students the opportunity to interact with individuals who have shaped the society we live in. Events usually include a 45-minute lecture by the guest speaker followed with time for questions and interacting with the guest. Sometimes, if you’re lucky, you may even be chosen to attend a dinner with faculty, staff, and the very lecturer themselves! Have you ever wanted to meet an award-winning author? A distinguished researcher? A famous politician or social activist? The McFarland center brings these very people onto campus in order to give students the opportunity to learn from these individuals in real time, not just through the articles written about them!

The McFarland Center started the semester off with a bang by bringing famed historian Jill Lepore to campus for a talk about “The Rise and Fall of Fact.” Jill Lepore attracted such a crowd that students had to lean against the wall to hear here lecture after all available seats were taken up! Lepore presented on the history of the fact, educating the entire audience on when, why, and how journalism evolved throughout history. After her lecture, Lepore spent a generous amount of time masterfully answering the audience’s questions and doing book signings before heading off to dinner, which I graciously had the opportunity to attend. Getting to eat and talk with the famed historian was a once in a lifetime opportunity that any Holy Cross student would have jumped at the opportunity to have. Talking with Lepore about her time growing up in West Boylston and critical topics such as the state of journalism was an amazing experience.

The McFarland Center also brought former Obama Chief of Staff Denis McDonough to campus where he spoke about the moral and ethical dilemmas associated with the refugee crisis that the world is experiencing. There was outstanding attendance as the Rehm Library was quickly filled up with students to the point where students were sitting on the floor to just hear from the former Chief of Staff. McDonough lectured about how the refugee system operates while including personal stories that highlight just how important refugees are to the country. McDonough appeared to be one of the more lax speakers, effortlessly tossing out jokes that never failed to get the student body to chuckle.

With more guest speakers scheduled the McFarland Center is sure to continue providing these amazing opportunities to students for the rest of the school year!

Jill Lepore lectures students about the “Rise and Fall of the Fact”
Former Obama Chief of Staff Denis McDonough lectures students about the refugee crisis.