Reflecting on the Fall Semester

It has been great returning to Holy Cross this semester to live on campus and attend in-person classes again. Although the transition back to campus was a little challenging, I am so happy that I had the opportunity to do so. It’s hard to believe that the end of the semester is already here!

Reflecting on the semester, I am grateful for the community I’ve made at the College through my friends, hall-mates, classmates, professors, and chaplains. They all made me feel welcome coming back to campus, and it was truly amazing after being at home for 18 months during the pandemic.

I really enjoyed all the classes I took this semester, especially my three English classes: American Realism, Feminist Literary Theory, and Shakespeare. It’s going to be hard to say goodbye to everyone since I am moving out in just a few days for winter break, and then, in the spring, I am participating in the New York Semester Program!

I am super excited for the New York Semester because I have always wanted to work and live in New York City at some point in my life. There are so many job opportunities and endless fun things to do there. I feel proud of myself for landing an internship at a film studio complex in Brooklyn. I am making my dreams a reality! I can’t wait to see what next semester has in store for me.

Attending College Far From Home

When I was searching for colleges as a high school junior, I didn’t care that much about how far away my college was from home. I really just wanted to go somewhere that felt like home, but also to a place that would challenge me. The idea of attending college in a region of the US that differed culturally from my hometown in the Pacific Northwest (PNW) really interested me. When I visited Holy Cross, it felt like home, but it was also very different from the PNW. It was the perfect combination of both elements.

I will never regret choosing to go to a college far away from home, even though there have been obvious challenges. Things like moving in and out of dorms, certain emergency situations, and storing my belongings have been complicated by my decision to move far from home. Although these situations have been frustrating at times, being far away from home has allowed me to gain life skills and pushed me to become more independent. Since my parents are not available to drive over quickly to help me with things, it forces me to deal with most issues on my own. I am grateful that I decided to move far away to attend Holy Cross.

Another unique aspect of attending college on the east coast as a native west coaster is the cultural differences. People in New England are generally more blunt than people in the PNW, and the driving is more aggressive. Dunkin’ Donuts is preferred here over Starbucks, which is foreign to me since Starbucks was founded in Seattle, and we don’t have any Dunkin’ stores in the PNW. Another difference is most people assume I’m from Washington, D.C., and I have to say I’m from Washington state. This is very different from my hometown because we only refer to it as DC, not Washington, to differentiate the two places. Also, it seems like people over here are more formal in their fashion and ways of interacting with others, which is different from the casual, laidback style on the west coast. Although sometimes these cultural differences are jarring, and at times it feels lonely because there are only 11 other students at Holy Cross from Washington state, I still really think the cultural differences are fascinating.

Going to college far away from home is definitely worth it. You learn who you are outside of the culture of your hometown, and it pushes you to interact with different types of people and subcultures in the US. College is the perfect opportunity to live in a very different place, which is often not as feasible later in life, and I honestly can’t imagine attending any other college.

View of sunset behind the Jo Fitness Center


On Sunday, November 21, I attended the annual Friendsgiving dinner in the Loyola Ballroom hosted by various Multicultural Student Organizations, including Advocating Student Interest in Asia, Black Student Union, Developing and Educating South Asian Ideologies, HCF1RST Scholars, Male Involvement Coalition, Movimiento Estudiantil Progressive Action, Pride, Students of Color in STEM, and The Office of Multicultural Education.

At the event, there was a buffet from Chipotle with a mix of rice, beans, meat, cheese, salsa, veggies, guacamole, and chips, as well as an assortment of drinks and desserts. Chris Campbell, Amie Archambault, and OME student interns facilitated the event. There was a raffle throughout the night, with prizes such as gift cards to a variety of different restaurants or stores, as well as hats and Holy Cross water bottles. There were a lot of students who showed up, which was great! They also provided a lot of fun board games and Jenga.

This event allowed me to take a break from the stress of the end of the semester and enjoy time building community with other Holy Cross students. I have a lot of papers and projects due before and after Thanksgiving, and I definitely needed this reminder to slow down and enjoy life! This time of year is often stressful for Holy Cross students, but this event allowed me to remember to take care of myself. I felt grateful for the delicious food and good company, and I will definitely carry this mindset with me going forward through Thanksgiving break to the end of the semester.

Awesome Shuttle Options at Holy Cross

Holy Cross offers several different free shuttles for students through its Student Government Association (SGA). I really enjoy taking the shuttles, especially on the weekends. Monday through Friday, there are shuttles to Walmart, the Shoppes at Blackstone Valley, and Union Station in the evening. On Saturday and Sunday, they offer these same destinations, just earlier in the mid-to-late afternoon. It is convenient to have free transportation to Walmart and Target to shop for any necessities.

Another awesome option is the shuttles to Worcester on Friday evenings. They depart to the Shoppes at Blackstone Valley, Shrewsbury Street, Union Station, Worcester Public Market, and Downtown Worcester in front of City Hall. These shuttles provide opportunities for students to explore Worcester and get acquainted with the community. I have had many amazing experiences exploring Kelley Square and Shrewsbury Street in Worcester. At Kelley Square I have visited Worcester Public Market and Polar Park, and on Shrewsbury Street I have tried many delicious restaurants. 

Holy Cross also offers shuttles to Boston on Saturday afternoons and evenings. Similar to the Worcester shuttle options, the shuttles to Boston allow students to broaden their horizons through traveling farther away in the state. The feel of Boston is definitely different from Worcester, so it is beneficial for students to explore both cities.

It is very important that students get off campus and explore because Holy Cross is a small community nestled on a hill that is relatively isolated from the rest of Worcester. When students get off campus more often, they broaden their horizons and are exposed to the public, which grants them more practical knowledge and life skills than just staying on campus all the time. Learning outside of the classroom is as important as learning inside of it. This connects to the Jesuit principle of a holistic education, for which I am grateful.

Photo of Polar Park near Kelley Square

My Favorite Places to Study and Relax on Campus

There are many great places to study and relax at Holy Cross — it’s no surprise that we have a beautiful campus! Here are some of my favorite places to hang out at the College.

1. My dorm room

Honestly, I love just relaxing in my dorm room. I cherish my alone time, and this is the perfect place for me to fulfill that need. My room is really cozy, and I love making a cup of tea and just relaxing.

2. Campion House (the Chaplains’ Office) 

I absolutely love hanging out in Campion! It really does feel like a house, which helps with homesickness, and the Chaplains are amazing people. Students can make appointments with a Chaplain to just talk with them or to get spiritual direction, if desired. My favorite thing about Campion, though, would have to be the freshly baked cookies! Each day, student workers make batches of cookies for Holy Cross students to enjoy. On Thursdays, they make vegan cookies, and on Fridays, they offer gluten free ones! This is amazing for me since I cannot eat gluten. I always look forward to swinging by Campion to pick up some cookies every Friday. Other than the cookies, Campion is a really mellow and relaxing place on campus, and it provides the perfect atmosphere to study or just relax.

3. Cool Beans in Hogan

The area by Cool Beans on the first floor of Hogan is another one of my favorites. I enjoy grabbing a cup of coffee and working on my homework. There is a strong sense of community in this spot because students, faculty, and staff gravitate toward it, which brings us all together.

4. Fenwick porch and study area on 2nd floor of Fenwick

These two spots on campus are wonderful for taking pictures of sunsets and just amazing pictures of the Holy Cross campus overall. Especially during fall, the campus is even more beautiful. They are also great spots to study, particularly on the porch, which is really peaceful.

Ultimately, Holy Cross has many spots on campus that foster a sense of community, which creates the perfect atmosphere to study or relax!

Sunset from Fenwick porch
Gluten free cookies in Campion House

Fall at Holy Cross

The foliage on campus and in New England is starting to transform into striking colors, which give me joy as I stroll through campus. The air is crisp and refreshing. The shortened days culminate in beautiful sunsets, which I make sure to capture every night. There’s no mistaking it — fall has begun.

Fall is easily one of my favorite seasons, second to summer. I love Halloween, going to pumpkin patches and cider mills, and dressing for the colder weather. And the season is especially amazing in New England. Since I am from Washington state, the fall foliage in New England is that much more spectacular to me. Not that fall isn’t beautiful in Washington, but New England certainly has brighter colors and more trees that shed their leaves, while Washington has a lot of evergreen trees. It is always interesting to compare the nature and scenery of the east coast to the west coast.

Some of my favorite things about fall at Holy Cross, in particular, are attending events on the Hoval (the Hogan Oval) that offer caramel apples and other fall treats, getting apple cider at Cool Beans, wearing sweaters to stay warm on The Hill, and having events such as Family Weekend. All of these activities allow us to feel more connected as a community and enjoy everyone’s company.

The coziness of fall serves as a reminder for me to prioritize my comfort and wellbeing amid the busyness of life at Holy Cross. There’s something about the cold weather of fall and staying indoors that prompts me to reflect on how I can better take care of myself. And sometimes that means resting or taking a nap if I am tired, instead of pushing myself to the limit. It is especially important to take care of myself right now, amid the ongoing pandemic that still affects us all psychologically and socially. Through my self-care, I can embody the Jesuit concept of cura personalis (“care for the whole person”), since I focus on also caring for my mental health and not only my academics. This is a difficult, yet crucial. I am grateful for the changing seasons, which provide me with an opportunity to reflect on my life and shift my values accordingly.


Vibrant ivy on the front of Fenwick Hall

LGBTQIA+ Support at Holy Cross

Since I have been a student at Holy Cross, I have grown more confident in my LGBTQIA+ identity. Holy Cross has facilitated a support group for LGBTQIA+ students since January of 1992, which I attend weekly, but even more support and resources have been implemented within the past two years. In 2018, the College hired Kelsey Moran, Psy.D., Licensed Psychologist and Coordinator of LGBTQIA+ Counseling Services and Programming in the Counseling Center. Moran has been an amazing asset to the Holy Cross community, especially for LGBTQIA+ students like me. She offers individual counseling and co-facilitates the support group with Megan Fox-Kelly, Associate Chaplain and Director of Retreats in the Chaplains’ Office.

In 2019, Amie Archambault also began her position as Assistant Director and LGBTQIA+ Specialist in the Office of Multicultural Education. Archambault is always available for one-on-one check-ins with all students, but especially LGBTQIA+ individuals.

I have really enjoyed meeting with Kelsey Moran, Meg Fox-Kelly, and Amie Archambault. They have helped me become more confident in my identity, which has led to me feeling comfortable as a member of the Pride e-Board. As Arts Manager on the e-Board, I have been able to develop my passions for graphic design and LGBTQIA+ rights in a community where I feel welcomed and validated.

It is also very helpful to have the options of meeting with Moran and Archambault for non-religious students. This fosters more inclusion in the Holy Cross community. Not until very recently did Holy Cross offer LGBTQIA+ resources that were independent from the Chaplains’ Office, which provides religious and spiritual guidance for Holy Cross students. With the expansion of support, students can feel free to access secular resources. Although I am religious, I still feel very privileged to attend a Jesuit college where I have all of these resources available to me.

The College has made considerable strides in its support of LGBTQIA+ students. I enjoy reading the book In, Out, and About on the Hill: LGBTQIA+ Alums Reflect on Life at Holy Cross, 1978-2018, which highlights the experiences of LGBTQIA+ Holy Cross alumni. These stories allow me to see how we have progressed in our acceptance of LGBTQIA+ students, and, because of the stories, I feel more connected to Holy Cross alumni who share similar experiences to me.

Campion House, home of the Chaplains’ Office at Holy Cross

The Joys of a Liberal Arts Education

One thing that drew me to Holy Cross was the personalized liberal arts curriculum. I knew that I wanted to go into college keeping my options open and then, later, narrow down my interests. I did not want to go somewhere that encouraged students to pin themselves down to one particular area of study very early on in their college careers. Holy Cross has allowed me to explore a broad range of subjects before deciding on my major and concentration through its common requirements and interdisciplinary curriculum.

At the beginning of my freshman year, I took a variety of courses that fulfilled various common requirements, which allowed me to explore many different fields. In the fall, I took anthropology, the biology of addiction, Spanish, and my Montserrat, the ethics of silence in spirituality. The spring semester of my freshman year, I decided to declare my major in English with a concentration in gender, sexuality, and women’s studies after taking poetry and poetics, the entrance course to the English major. As cliché as it sounds, I “followed my heart” and chose to major in something for which I felt passionate. I knew that if I had majored in a subject just for more apparent stability, I would not feel happy or motivated to focus on my school work. Choosing to major in something that I love has allowed me to enjoy the material and excel in my academics simultaneously.

Since I was a teenager, I have always had a long-term career goal of going into the film industry. More particularly, I would love to become a film director or editor. At the age of 12, I decided to create a YouTube channel and teach myself Adobe Premiere, a video editing software. I absolutely love video editing and short filmmaking, and I have landed part-time jobs and internships through the Career Center that have let me further develop these passions.

One may look at these two fields, English and film, and ask, how could they possibly connect? On the surface, English seems like a counterintuitive major and an unconventional path to film. At their essences, however, English and film both hold a central goal of storytelling. Majoring in English allows me to study the basics of storytelling and the archetypes that are common to many different types of stories. The study of these patterns will train me to become a successful storyteller. 

I especially love taking classes that fulfill both my English major and my gender, sexuality, and women’s studies concentration. This semester, I am taking Feminist Literary Theory with Professor Jackson, and it greatly interests me to study critical theory and literature at the same time. This is just one example of the amazing, personalized liberal arts curriculum at Holy Cross.

Majoring in English gives me more flexibility and career options than if I had attended film school. If I end up deciding that film is not suitable for me in the future, then I can enter a wide variety of other careers as backup options. Some prospective filmmakers attend a film school, others major in something completely unrelated, and many do not attend college at all. Each person has a unique path that leads them to film, and, generally, the most valuable thing is to acquire hands-on experience creating films. Since the liberal arts education at Holy Cross emphasizes critical thinking skills, problem-solving, and unconventional, creative thinking, which are three major assets in the workforce, I feel prepared to accomplish anything.

Life on The Hill

Hello, everyone! My name is Julia Maher ‘23, and I am a new student blogger. I am a junior English major with a concentration in gender, sexuality, and women’s studies at the College. This year I hold leadership positions for Pride and The Spire, two clubs for which I feel very passionate. It feels great to be back on campus, especially since I haven’t been back since March of 2020. 

Campus feels very welcoming, and everyone is excited to be back. Being away for a long time makes me feel more grateful for the time I have on campus. Since I’ve come back, there have been a couple amazing changes to life at Holy Cross. For example, the resident meal plan on campus now allows students to use meal swipes at more locations on campus. We now get 8 meal swipes per week at Cool Beans, D’Agostino’s Cafe, and Upper Crossroads. This increase in meal swipes allows for more variety beyond just eating at Kimball Main Dining Hall. Although the food at Kimball is great and provides many options for students, including those with dietary restrictions, it is nice to have more dining locations that accept meal swipes. I’ve been really enjoying the sandwiches, salads, and grain bowls at Upper Crossroads for lunch.

Another pleasant addition to life at Holy Cross is the Jo, which is the new fitness and recreation center on campus. The facilities are beautiful, and there are plenty of free group exercise classes, including yoga, which helps me to de-stress and feel more connected to my mind and body. This is very important to me, especially since it gives me a nice break from academics. This is my first time being able to use the Jo, since I haven’t been on campus for a long time, and it’s simply awesome.

I look forward to the new Center for Performing Arts on campus, which is currently under construction for an anticipated opening in 2022. This will allow artists and creatives on campus to have a space, and it will increase people’s appreciation for the arts. I also look forward to this school year as a whole — the academics, socializing, activities, and clubs.