Posts Tagged ‘Alumni Guest Post’

Meet Edgar D. Rodríguez ’16, Legislative Correspondent/Aide to Congresswoman Norma J. Torres

November 8th, 2017 by eklamm

Name: Edgar D. Rodríguez ’16
Title: Legislative Correspondent/Aide
Organization Name: United States House of Representatives; Congresswoman Norma J. Torres (CA-35)

In one sentence, what does your job entail?

I am responsible for managing the Congresswoman’s entire mail correspondence system between constituents and her office, as well as, using constituent input (among other avenues) to help advance her legislative agenda by proposing and drafting bill ideas.

What planned and unplanned events connected you to your industry and your first employer after Holy Cross?

My original plan was to return to my hometown (Pomona, CA) and work in the community expanding access to healthcare, specifically for U.S. citizen children of undocumented parents. However, after participating in the Washington Semester program in the fall of 2016 and receiving a job offer, I decided to stay in D.C.

How did you learn/decide it was a good fit for you?

While I truly enjoyed my internship on the Hill—especially since I was interning for my representative—I still had plans to return to my community. It wasn’t until the Congresswoman asked me to join her on the campaign trail the week leading up to the general election that I began contemplating the idea of staying in D.C. after graduation. Driving the Congresswoman around to multiple campaign stops in California and Nevada and seeing first-hand the issues that she was advocating for and how it related to the work she was doing in D.C., made me realize the possibility of doing the same in Washington. Immediately after returning from California, the Congresswoman offered me the position to stay and help her accomplish the work she advocated for on the campaign trail.

Rarely do you find D.C. staff working for their home representatives. I saw the need to stay here and work for my home representative and advocate for my community because I am from there and I understand the local issues.

What were you involved in when you were on campus?

I was involved quite extensively during my time at Holy Cross through the Student Government Association. I was the assistant to the SGA Director of Student Life my freshman year, a two-term Senator, and eventually Director of Diversity. Concurrently, I was also involved in the Pre-Business program, co-founded the RSO Movimiento Estudiantil Chicanx de Aztlán (M.E.Ch.A. de Holy Cross) my sophomore year, took part of several service trips, was appointed to a couple of Presidential committees under the Office of Diversity, and founded the new center for students of color, among other things.

What was your major and how did it affect your career decisions?

I came to Holy Cross seeking an Economics Accounting major. However after my first year, that quickly changed to Political Science. While my major did not directly affect my career decisions, I have greatly benefitted from its instruction in my current job.

What are one or two skills that you developed at Holy Cross that you use in your work?

The two greatest skills that I developed at Holy Cross are the same ones that I utilize today on a daily basis. The first is the ability to manage people. Aside from handling a legislative portfolio for the Congresswoman, I also have the wonderful opportunity to manage our internship program. Understanding the weakness and strengths of people and knowing how to utilize them to the benefit of an organization is something that took quite a bit of trial and error during my time at Holy Cross. The second skill is perhaps more common: the ability to multitask and take on different projects at the same time. For a very long time, I was the type of person that always took more than they could handle simply because I wanted to do it all. Learning to understand your capacity as a leader and how to effectively manage multiple projects early on has truly helped me balance my innate feeling of wanting to take on a lot and doing a good job at it.

What advice do you have for students on campus interested in the Communications / PR field?

I think students always fall short of pursuing their passions and, more often than not, pursue what makes them feel secure and not what challenges them. My advice for students is to try to escape the fear of judgement.

Pursue what makes you grow. There are passions out there that you may discover along the way, passions that you never knew you had. And that might not only impact your life in a positive way, but the lives of those around you as well.

I Was a Political Science Major, Now I am a First Year Associate

October 11th, 2017 by eklamm

Meet Jonathan Casseus ’14, First Year Associate at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP in Boston.

In one sentence, what does your job entail?

My job essentially is that I am a lawyer in a big law firm conducting litigation for large companies on a variety of issues ranging from class actions to securities litigation.

What planned and unplanned events connected you to your industry and your first employer after Holy Cross? How did you learn/decide it was a good fit for you?

I always knew that I wanted to go to law school ever since I stepped foot on campus at Holy Cross. I tailored my course selection to prepare me to fulfill that dream. I noticed that the courses matched my passions while at Holy Cross and in law school, I continued to love what I was learning, proving how much of a great fit it was.

What were you involved in when you were on campus?

Sound of St. James All-Male Acapella Group, RA in Mulledy for 2 years, MPE, Peer Mentors, Brother to Brother Committee, WHCH Sports (Broadcaster for Basketball), Intramural Soccer, Co-Chair of BSU in 2013, Treasurer in 2012, and Freshman Apprentice in 2011.

What was your major and how did it affect your career decisions?

Political Science. The courses really helped me understand how the law can shape countries and states, and the writing equipped me with tools that I still use up to this day.

What are one or two skills that you developed at Holy Cross that you use in your work?

I learned how to have a disciplined work ethic to meet various deadlines especially when they all fall around the same time period. All the “hell weeks” prepared me for the times when law school got really tough. Moreover, I learned how to constantly reflect on my journey and my purpose and that has aided me in putting things in perspective and reminds me why I wake up doing what I always wanted to do.

What advice do you have for students on campus today?

If you have a goal or dream, take your academics by the horns and try to gear yourself towards that goal as best as you can. Also, do not take Holy Cross for granted, the school is preparing you to do great things, however, selling yourself short or cutting corners will not allow you to reap those benefits.

ALUMNI INTERVIEW: I was a double major in mathematics and physics, now I…

September 11th, 2017 by eklamm

Meet Alison Cheung ’06, Engineer at MIT Lincoln Laboratory.

In one sentence, what does your job entail?

I work sensors such as a large optical telescope to monitor the space environment and enable the nation to meet the challenges of an increasingly congested and contested space domain.

What planned and unplanned events connected you to your industry and your first employer after Holy Cross? How did you learn/decide it was a good fit for you?

During my sophomore year at Holy Cross, I was informed of an opportunity via email from the physics department to get funding through the Massachusetts Space Grant Consortium for a summer internship at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL).  I had been looking at various internship opportunities from the financial industry to the department of defense, but had not previously thought about NASA or the space industry.  After submitting a resume and talking to a mentor at JPL, I jumped on this opportunity.  I worked hard that summer, had frequent conversations with my mentor, and fell in love with the work environment and the space missions.  This resulted in me returning for a total of three summers under the same mentors but with exposure to various mission areas.  Knowing that a graduate degree is incredibly valuable in this type of environment, I attended graduate school but kept in contact with my JPL mentors.  After completing my master’s degree, I chose to return to JPL as full-time staff.

What were you involved in when you were on campus?

On campus I was involved in the marching band/pep band, Holy Cross Chamber Orchestra, Society of Physics Students, Science Student Ambassadors, SPUD, and admissions office host for prospective students.

What was your major and how did it affect your career decisions?

I was a double major in mathematics and physics.  I always had a hard time picking a favorite between these majors and struggled to decide which area to go to graduate school in.  Ultimately, I looked for ways to keep a balance of both fields and have continued to do so.

What are one or two skills that you developed at Holy Cross that you use in your work?

My first exposure to MATLAB was at Holy Cross during my senior year and have continued to use MATLAB on a regular basis since then.  Additionally, Holy Cross helped me develop my communication and interpersonal skills that often set me apart from others in my field.

What advice do you have for students on campus today?

My largest piece of advice for students on campus today is to seize any opportunity that comes your way and work hard to make a positive impression.  This could mean being the first to submit a resume or respond to an email.  Don’t worry about how the opportunity came about and don’t doubt your qualifications.  Imposter syndrome is a real thing.  Instead of thinking about why you were given an opportunity, put your energy into making the most of that opportunity so that it leads to further opportunities.  When gaps in your knowledge arise, ask good questions and continuously improve.

ALUMNI INTERVIEW: I Was A Political Science Major, Now I…

May 3rd, 2017 by eklamm

Name: Payton Shubrick
Class Year: 2015
Title: R&D Lab Manager (Research and Development Lab Manager)
Organization Name: MassMutual
Major: Political Science

What does your job entail?

My role is to manage R&D activities for the company, specific to home office employees. What that means is I attempt to solve business problems leveraging emerging technologies as well as exploring technologies that could impact our industry in the next 12-18 months. What does that mean in plain English? I look for the return on investment a technology can offer. Can we save 2 million dollars be leveraging VR for training sessions as opposed to the current model of paying facilitators and having in classroom sessions?

How has your Holy Cross education contributed to your success?

My Holy Cross education has contributed to my success in many ways. At Holy Cross, I was able to grow – socially, intellectually, ethically, etc. I often find myself harnessing skills that I developed in both the classroom and student activities, like SGA and BSU, to propel me forward professionally. At Holy Cross, I was able to develop a greater sense of awareness of who I was as a person and how I can impact the world around me. With that mindset, you can rethink traditional business problems with many lenses to come up with a solution and then be able to present that idea in a well-written document or verbal presentation.

What skills are most important in your day to day work?

The most important skill in my work is being able to check, adjust, and pivot. Unlike traditional career paths with technology, you can come up with a solution and then discard the entire thing for something better because a smart algorithm can now be applied. This means you can’t grow too attached to one solution or one way to solve a problem. Everything is a fair game all the time and things change rapidly, so accept change early and fast to make life easier later.

What advice would you give to a Holy Cross student looking to enter your field?

Start studying trends in technology now. Virtual/ augmented reality, chatbots, algorithms, autonomous driving cars, artificial intelligence are real and going to change the world around us. In your day to day, life start to think about how things can simplify your life and delivery information before you know you want it.

Alumni Guest Post: Tricia Dunn ’12

April 30th, 2013 by mklync13

To round out our Alumni Guest Posts for the 2012-13 year, we’re happy to present Tricia Dunn ’12, former HC Career Planning Marketing Intern (& Blogger!) and current member of the Human Resources team at Hanover Insurance Group.

Check out more about her job & advice for students pursuing a career at Hanover or in HR!
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Hi Crusaders! It’s hard to believe that almost a year has passed since I graduated. And yet, while it

Tricia Dunn ’12

seems like just yesterday I was enjoying Cape Week and pre-graduation celebrations at the Pub, so much has happened since then that I can’t believe college was only a year ago.

I’m currently going on a year at The Hanover Insurance Group, where I work in the Human Resources department and am part of the company’s Future Leader’s Program. I’ve been lucky to try a variety of projects during this year here and am learning a lot. While I have enjoyed this past year and the growth and change it has brought, I will admit I do get a little nostalgic for HC sometimes. So, in that spirit, let’s pretend we’re meeting up in the pub for a $2 beer (side note: do any of you realize how great this is?!) and I’ll share what I’ve been up to over the past few months.

How did I end up at Hanover?

 

I first learned about The Hanover as a junior looking for internships. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do and was applying to internships in a variety of fields and locations. Two young alumni had a lobby table in Hogan and were recruiting for The Hanover—with cupcakes.  No joke, I first learned about The Hanover due to my insatiable hunger for baked goods. One of them asked me if I was interested in applying for the internship program. Since I wasn’t really thinking about insurance, I didn’t take it seriously at first, but their enthusiasm for the company took me aback and I found myself connecting with a lot of the things they mentioned. The more I learned about Hanover, the more it sounded like a place I could like.

Fast forward three months and I returned to Holy Cross having enjoyed my internship and with an offer in hand for a full time position as part of The Hanover’s Future Leaders Program. While it was a little nerve wracking to commit to a company so soon into senior year, I was excited to join the program. I liked the idea of joining a training program in which I would be given more growth opportunities, mentorship, and cross-functional training.

Through the program, I’ll get a certificate in Business Analysis, learn about other business functions and get more access to leadership and mentoring opportunities than I probably would have otherwise. Also, I started with 40 other people – many of which I’ve become great friends with!

What do you specifically do there?

This is tough for me to answer because I worked on a diverse set of projects. I am currently in HR Operations, which supports and designs tactical solutions to get done in our department. In essence, we’re the back end people, on the ground, making sure everything runs smoothly. For example, I manage our relocation program; so when the company hires a new employee who needs to move for the job, I help set them up with our relocation vendor. I consult with the HR recruiters who are making the offer, manage vendor to ensure that it is meeting our employee’s need, pay invoices and run financial reports for our finance department.

I have also done some process improvement work for our Learning & Development group, which hosts and manages all of the enterprise-wide classes and learning programs. I took a look at how the operational work was being accomplished: how the online class sign up system worked, how the classes were being set up and hosted, etc., and was able to identify issues and and make recommendations to improve the user experience and improve efficiency. This project was fun because I got to do a lot of consulting work and the impact of my work was noticeable right away!

I think Operations was a good place to start because it provided me with foundational knowledge about

Co-workers decorate Tricia’s office!

the department and exposed me to all of the different areas within it. However, as I approach my one year mark with the company, I’m looking forward to trying something new. As of June, I will still be in HR, but I’ll be working with our Community Relations & Employee Engagement group. I’ve already begun to take on some more work in this area and am really enjoying it!  I am currently managing the redesign of our career site (stay tuned for improvements!), writing pieces for our internal company newsletter, and planning events with our community partners.  I’m looking forward to taking on more roles with marketing and helping others.

While I’m still not exactly sure what I want to do long-term, I am really happy to be where I am today. As mentioned, I am happy for my year in Operations, but I’ve always known I wanted to get into something more community-focused and more creative. Thankfully, I have had a lot of advocates at The Hanover who have mentored me and helped me get into this new role. As for long-term plans, I think the next year will be telling. I plan to continue to take on a diversity of projects to stretch my skills and interests in new ways. I think by doing this I will discern the next step most clearly and with the experiences I’ve had at HC and The Hanover I believe I’ll be ready to take it on!

Any advice for college students?

 

Yes! I have three that alumni have passed on to me and that I have learned in my one year in the proverbial real world:

1. Focus on the job role, not the job title.

Titles can be misleading and box you in to a job search. While titles hint at hint at what a job entails, there is usually more than meets the eye. It’s more accurate to approach a job by thinking about what you want your daily life to look like – do you like working with people? Doing something creative? Analytical? Are you passionate about research? Whatever that be, focus on those descriptive words and the type of work which you are seeking – rather than a title.

2. Advocate for what you’re interested in…

As a political science major and a studio art minor, I knew that Excel spreadsheets all day were not going to be my jam. Early on at my time at Hanover, I found myself enjoying my projects which were more creative, solidifying my interest in that area. I made sure my manager, mentors and others knew about it. As a result, I’ve been given more creative opportunities in my current position and will be transitioning to a more creative role full-time as of June.

3. …But be open.

As a newbie to the workforce, you’re bound to be doing projects and tasks you never thought you’d be interested in. Yeah, some of those projects are going to suck as much as you expected them to, but guaranteed you will learn something—and maybe even develop new interests—if you are open to it.

4. Drink more $2 beer.

Just kidding. Sort of. Have fun and enjoy the heck out of your time at Holy Cross! It’s a great experience and I encourage you all to make the most of your time there, in the classrooms, on the fields, in extracurricular and yes, even socially.

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Learn more about the opportunities at Hanover Insurance group here.

 

Alumni Guest Post: Ty Shaw ’09

February 25th, 2013 by mklync13

Kicking off our Alumni Guest Post series for the Spring Semester, Ty Shaw ’09 discusses how his post grad life led to his current role as a Business Development Consultant at Oracle!

Ty Shaw '09

Job prospects were few and far between when I left “The Cross” in 2009.  America was in the midst of the modern day great depression.  I soon learned the importance of humility, perseverance and strong networking–or as I say, making new friends and embracing old ones.

During my senior year I had one solid job prospect in an industry and location I didn’t want to be in after college, so instead of taking the job, I chose to go back home to Denver, CO.   At the time I was so wrapped up in my own ego and my sense of entitlement that I could not truly understand how tough the economy was.  I was fixed on the thought that I had a great degree from Holy Cross (which I did), and that was all I needed to land a good job.  I was sadly awakened when I spent almost my first year after graduation working with a staffing firm (temp. agency) to keep my resume/skills current.

During that year with the staffing firm, I was humbled.  I could not find permanent work, and I had sent in around one hundred applications and hadn’t landed any interviews.  My dad soon came to me and said “Son, you have to get around the movers and the shakers.”  So that’s what I did, networking became a part of my daily routine.  And I can’t stress enough how important it is to meet people doing things that you think you may be interested in because most companies don’t waste their time looking at resumes where there is no referral with it.  I began to connect with Holy Cross alumni in Colorado that I found off the Holy Cross alumni website, and I joined meetup groups (meetup.com) so that I could mingle with people that were doing the work I wanted to do.  Each networking experience helped me to realize that the best networkers are those that make genuine friends.  In this world we can never have too many genuine people in our lives that want to help and are open to being helped.

After networking in Colorado (and a few jobs later), I thought getting back to HC for a spring football game would be a good idea for me to reunite with old friends and teammates.  And I was right! Going back to HC is what led to my current opportunity at Oracle.  A Holy Cross teammate and friend told me about openings at Oracle and how he was recently hired—and this connection helped lead to my current job.

In my role, I am working as a Business Development Consultant (BDC) for Oracle.  I am responsible for prospecting into companies that have technology issues.  On a day to day basis, I perform in-depth research on these companies to gain a deep understanding of their business.  Also, I am researching to see how Oracle can add value to what they do.  Most of the companies I work with are public so I am able to read their 10k reports to understand their business and see if we can help.

Once I’m done researching companies online that I want to call into, I find people within the company to speak with.  There are a plethora of prospecting tools Oracle has available to BDC’s to use in order to find the right person in a company to speak business with.  The number one goal is to first build rapport with the prospect, and after connecting on a humanly level, I go on to better understand that person’s role inside the company they work for.  Then we get down to business, I ask questions to see if we can add value, and if there is a business pain I proceed to set up a next call to help facilitate the sales process.  My main job is pre-sales, so I do the research, find the business problem and build the relationship before facilitating the rest of the sales process with my sales team.  I also provide advice to my sales team on how we can drive business in their territory based off of the research I find.  Ultimately, I am in the business of helping the customer first and driving revenue second.

My opportunity at Oracle wouldn’t have been possible without my new-found sense of humility, perseverance, and the Holy Cross Alumni community.  The lessons that I have learned are things that I hope that you all can take with you before graduating.  Think long and hard about what you want to do, what will fulfill you, where you want to live, and what kind of work you will be proud of.  In nearly being out of college four years, I’m just now feeling like I’m heading down a path to fulfillment.  A Chu!  Chu!  Rah!  Rah! For Holy Cross!

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Alumni Guest Post: Priscilla Lam ’12

November 12th, 2012 by mklync13

Next up in our Alumni Guest Post series: Priscilla Lam ’12 discusses her role as a clinical research coordinator in the Center for Neuro-Oncology at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute!

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Priscilla Lam ’12

I could not have been more ecstatic when I received a phone call from Dana-Farber Cancer Institute (Boston, MA) during senior week with an offer to be the new clinical research coordinator in the Center for Neuro-Oncology. Without any hesitation, I immediately accepted the job offer even though I was informed that the start date of my job would be June 4th (exactly 9 days after graduation!). Everything felt like a whirlwind, but I was very excited to begin a new chapter of my life in Boston.

It is hard to believe that I have been working at Dana-Farber for over four months now. Dana-Farber is an outpatient clinic that is directly connected to Brigham and Women’s Hospital (inpatient). I absolutely love working here. Sometimes it feels like I never left Holy Cross because I work with three other Holy Cross alums in my department and I am constantly running into Holy Cross grads from all years working in various disease centers at Dana-Farber.

The responsibilities of a clinical research coordinator differ slightly depending on the disease center. In Neuro, the majority of the patients I work with are Glioblastoma patients. I am responsible for knowing several clinical trials and being familiar with protocol requirements. Our primary responsibility is data entry and management. We are responsible for entering medical/surgical history information, lab values, concomitant medications, adverse events, etc. in the database for each clinical trial participant for sponsors to review. We have monitors (a representative hired by the sponsor, usually from a pharmaceutical company) come in once a month for every clinical trial to review our data and ensure that all data are properly documented and captured. They issue queries and we are required to answer these queries in a timely manner. Research coordinators are essentially the primary point person between the industry sponsor and the research team at Dana-Farber. We also have regulatory responsibilities such as submitting Serious Adverse Event reports to the Dana-Farber Internal Review Board and the industry sponsor. Other duties include preparing research tubes/kits and flow-sheets for nurses, shipping samples, requesting pathology, scheduling clinic visit appointments and MRIs, [and] communicating with patients, ordering labs, being in attendance when physicians screen/consent patients for potential trials, reviewing provider notes to ensure that there is proper source documentation for data, and organizing/prepping patient charts to be ready for monitor visits and future audits.

Most of the research coordinators work in the Longwood Galleria offices while clinic is in the Yawkey Building. Every day is different. This is not a typical 9-5pm job. Things come up spontaneously and each day is completely unpredictable. Generally, clinic days tend to be busier because that is when our patients come in for visits. I learn something new every day. This job can be challenging and demanding at times, but overall very rewarding. It is interesting to see research from a clinical perspective and being part of the research care team is fulfilling.

Clinical trials give patients a sense of hope. Clinical trials investigate specific experimental drugs not yet approved by the FDA and explore novel cancer therapies, as well as implement standard of care treatment in hopes of finding new and effective treatments for patients.

My favorite part of this job is being a contributing member of the research team and having the opportunity to experience full clinical exposure. I also take much pride in being able to work at an institute that offers state-of-the-art treatment for patients, with renowned physicians and experts on brain tumors, and a team of compassionate individuals consisting of neuro-oncologists, researchers, nurses, and PA. I could not have asked for a better place to be after graduating from Holy Cross. Everyday, I find myself inspired by patients, their families, and the support and care that clinicians provide to patients. This job has definitely helped reinforce my dreams of pursing a future career in medicine. I cannot thank the Holy Cross faculty, staff, and alumni network enough for opening my eyes to the opportunities that can be had working as a Clinical Research Coordinator at Dana-Farber.

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Alumni Guest Post: Will Brown ’11

October 15th, 2012 by mklync13

We are excited to announce that our Alumni Guest Post series is back for the 2012-2013 academic year!

First up: Will Brown ’11 will be sharing his experiences as a Physics teacher with Teach For America!

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Will Brown ’11

When I look back at my four years at Holy Cross, many things stand out to me: long hours in class and science labs, long hours studying in Dinand, long hours working at Kimball, and long weekend nights with friends. I enjoyed all of those things, but the one aspect of Holy Cross that truly became a part of me was the idea of being “Men and Women for (and with) Others.” I took advantage of every opportunity I had to serve alongside the marginalized and oppressed. I was one of those people who fell in love with the spring break immersion program. I went to New Orleans my freshman year because I wanted to help others. I quickly learned, however, that the beauty of a life of service is not what you can do for others, but what you can do together. The individuals that I met, both from Holy Cross and the local communities, convinced me to broaden my perspective and go out into the world.

Fast forward a few years, and I am now a second-year Teach for America corps member serving as a physics teacher San Benito High School in the Rio Grande Valley of South Texas, the area of land alongside the Mexican border. As someone who was a biology major in the health professions program, I often get asked, “Why Teach for America? Why not go to med school?” Medical school is still my target destination, but I did not feel ready at that time to jump in.  Instead, I opted for a short break from school and settled on joining one of the many service organizations that are available (Peace Corps, JVC, Americorps, etc.). Teach for America recruits high-performing college graduates with strong leadership qualities to teach in high-needs schools throughout the country. We go through an alternative teacher certification program and undertake continuous professional development throughout our two-year commitment. This makes it an excellent option for those individuals (like me) who realized very late that they have a passion for teaching, and also those individuals who would like a strong support system as they begin their teaching careers. Although it is not faith-based like the immersion trips, TFA appealed to me because it allowed me to work daily with students who have ambitious hopes and dreams for their futures, but who have also been written off by many as incapable of reaching those goals or, worse, not worth the effort.

The past year and a half has been a constant challenge. The old joke that “those who can’t do, teach” has certainly been proven false. I have worked harder during the past year and a half than I ever did before. My school day runs from 7:45 to 4:16, and then I stay at school most afternoons grading, preparing for future lessons, or organizing extracurricular activities. During my first year I taught three 90-minute chemistry classes and one remedial class for students who needed to pass the state exam. This year I am teaching physics. I find myself constantly relearning things I have forgotten since college. Most nights I am exhausted, and just like at Holy Cross I cannot wait for each weekend to come around so I can relax a bit. I love taking the time to go out to my students’ football games (yes, it really is like Friday Night Lights) or volleyball games and see them excel in something that they love. It is also a fun and easy opportunity to meet students’ parents and influencers.

All of the time and effort is worth it, though, when you see the fruits of you and your students’ shared labor: having Juan look up at you from a problem set and say he finally understands; seeing Mel’s face light up in wonder and amazement when a science experiment works like magic; or seeing a student who has failed multiple times in the past finally rise up and succeed. Those simple, joyous moments remind me why I chose teaching, why I chose Teach for America.

If you are interested in applying to Teach for America, make sure to get in touch with one of the recruiters from the Boston office. TFA works in 46 different rural and urban regions throughout the country from Boston to Hawaii and everywhere in-between. Check out the website to see detailed information about each of the regions. You can make yourself a more attractive applicant by taking on leadership positions on campus and developing your organizational skills, as these are two of the organization’s focal points when looking at applicants. Also, speak to people who are currently teaching in the public school system: there are many things I was unaware of that happen behind-the-scenes. There is a lot more to school than just teaching classes.

I want to leave you with my greatest moment in the classroom so far. One of

Will & Myriah

my students from last year, Myriah, had not passed the state science exam since she was in 8th grade. As a senior, she needed to pass that test to graduate. She was in two science classes with me, for a total of 135 minutes each day, all year long. Myriah had her confidence beaten down, but we knew that she could do it. One month before graduation, on her last chance, she finally succeeded in passing the science exam. She was going to walk across the stage and graduate with her class! I remember many things about that night: My mom and sister were at a Brad Paisley concert, and Johan Santana threw the Mets first no-hitter, but I will always remember the ear-to-ear smile on Myriah’s face as she lined up to walk across the stage. Tears welled up in my eyes as a student sitting near me said, “I didn’t think Myriah was going to graduate.” The tears began to run as I responded, “Well, she did.” In that moment, I knew that I was where I needed to be. I knew that joining Teach for America was the right choice for me.

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Aumni Guest Post: Matt Harper ’11

February 1st, 2012 by pjdunn12

This semester we kick off the Alumni Guest Post series with a story by Matt Harper ’11, who is living and working in Belize as part of the International Jesuit Volunteer Corps!

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Matt Harper '11 (second from left) at graduation

I have been in Belize City, Belize (in Central America) for about four months as part of the international branch of the Jesuit Volunteer Corps.  I work in the youth facility of the Belize Central Prison. My job description says, “Teach literacy and math.” It should probably say, “Be present, teach if you can.” Each day is an adventure and I am constantly learning.

How did I end up here?

It wasn’t until my senior year began that I realized I had much to learn and to experience about the world.  I neglected some very significant opportunities made available to me while I was at Holy Cross; I think my ego kept me from committing myself to the greater service of Worcester. I fooled myself into thinking I had figured something out which thus no longer required me to have direct personal experience with other people’s struggles, poverty and pain.

This was the kindling for my decision to join the Jesuit Volunteer Corps. Now, allow me to give a quick summary of the other factors that influenced my decision-making process:

I wanted to get involved with service work because I knew I needed to humble myself, needed to realize that I can’t always do or “fix” things.

I wanted to spend time abroad not because the US can’t provide what I’ve found in Belize but because I believed I would ultimately return home to address the many problems in our own country. I still believe I will return home in two years, but who knows where the whispers of God within me might call me.

I wanted something that focused on spirituality not because I’ve “figured” anything spiritual out, quite the contrary actually. We are spiritual beings and I wanted to finally take that part of me seriously.

I wanted something grounded in community because I often cannot see further than myself, and that hurts everyone. I believed there would be great value in the intentional challenge and support that real community could provide. (I was right!)

Finally, I wanted to improve my ability to see and work for justice in our world. I saw that justice is more about how a person views the world and the actions that come from this foundation more than it is about a person’s words – and I often have a lot of words! I knew I had to simply be with others and shut my yapper for a while.

Truth: I’m still working on all of this.

In addition to my work in the prison, I live in a community with six other people. We share our money, make decisions together, take responsibility for ourselves, each other and our house. We challenge and support each other (aiming to do so through love) in the hope that we can grow together as well as in our own specific ways.

In applying for IJVC, I wanted a challenge that would make it possible for me to positively “confront” all the many aspects of myself that I had previously neglected while simultaneously building relationships with those I am “serving.” Those two things are more interconnected than I could have imagined.

Leaving Holy Cross has made what it gave me all the more tangible.  I was supported and challenged by faculty, staff and students who constantly encouraged me to look a little deeper; I was given countless opportunities to take a stand for something;  I had unimaginable resources; I was asked to search for myself and to consider how I will serve the greater glory of God…the list goes on, and no words can capture fully what Holy Cross gifted to me. Each experience has been so important in getting me to this point as will each well into the future.

I have no doubt—and I feel peace knowing—that Holy Cross will be with me and I with it forever.

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Did this story resonate with you?

Learn more about the Jesuit Volunteer Corps.

Check out other volunteer opportunities with Career Planning.

Alumni Guest Post: Gordon Wong ’11

December 1st, 2011 by pjdunn12

This week hear from Gordon Wong ’11 who sends his greetings from the Windy City!

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Gordon Wong '11

Truthfully, I miss Holy Cross very much and there are many days where I find myself thinking back on probably the four best years of my life. However, there is one thing I do not miss about Holy Cross – the hills!  Chicago has absolutely no hills!  I’m not complaining.

I’m in Chicago this year because I’ve decided to dedicate my first year out of Holy Cross serving as a volunteer with Amate House.

Many people have asked me why I decided to dedicate a year of service.  I always knew that I was going to participate in a year of service, and more importantly in a faith-based service program.  Participating in this year of service was just one way for me to continue the mission of Holy Cross.

To apply my knowledge I wanted to serve and I wanted to serve in Chicago.  There is no city like it and I am just as much in love with Chicago as I was with Holy Cross when I first arrived there for a tour.  Chicago has become my new campus and I don’t want to waste a moment here.

Amate House is the young adult volunteer program for the Catholic Archdiocese of Chicago.  It is similar to other post-graduate volunteer programs such as Jesuit Volunteer Corps, JVC-Northwest, and AmeriCorps.  For 28 years now, Amate House has provided opportunities for over 30 young adults to serve throughout Chicago, while living together in a community of peers, and participating in educational opportunities and faith formation.  These volunteers seek to form mutual relationships with our neighbors – to work with and for people in some of the city’s most under-resourced communities. (For more information I invite you to visit http://www.amatehouse.org/).

I am a community organizer with Mercy Housing Lakefront’s Tenant Leadership department.  MHL is a nationwide housing organization and I work with supportive housing tenants.  My service is in the form of building relationships and a listening ear as they discuss issues in the community.  As an organizer my job is to empower the tenants in MHL, to take ownership of an issue, and to take action.

I wish I could tell you what our campaign is going to be about but I can’t—not yet.  Organizing takes time and the efforts of the tenants and me are just starting to surface.  It’s only a matter of a few weeks till we unveil our campaign.

I love my job.  It’s a humble position I have and it’s not a job where I can measure success quantitatively; the success comes in the forms of relationships and in seeing a tenant grow as their leader.

I’ll end my post with one of my favorite phrases from Fr. McFarland.  He says that Holy Cross is here to help students meet there “tremendous potential.”  Holy Cross started that for me.  I believe that the work I’m doing here in Chicago and with the tenants of MHL is to do what Fr. McFarland says.  I believe that the tenants I work with have tremendous potential to enact change in their communities and I’m just lucky enough to be able to be there with them.

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Did this story resonate with you?

Inspired to do service work after graduation? Check out opportunities inCareer Planning or with the Chaplains’ Office.