Meet Alum Christopher Gillis ’14, Associate at Ropes & Gray LLP

Name: Christopher Gillis

Class Year: 2014

Title: Associate (Attorney)

Organization Name: Ropes & Gray LLP


1. In one sentence, what does your job entail?

Working with health care clients to help them do deals, solve problems, and expand their business in a highly-regulated industry.


2. 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?  

After falling in love with economics while I was writing my senior thesis, I thought I was going to pursue graduate work in economics and I found a job doing academic research (through my thesis advisor). I did that for a few years and decided I was looking for something that was still very analytical, but that offered a more inter-disciplinary/multi-disciplinary approach to solving problems, which I was very happy to find in the law. I’ve always been a planner and had very certain ideas about what I wanted for my future, so while going to law school certainly doesn’t seem like the riskiest of moves, it was a real learning experience to have to sit with the uncertainty/disappointment that comes with realizing your original plan just won’t quite work. There wasn’t a lot serendipity or many surprises that followed the decision not to get an economics PhD, I just needed to have an honest conversation with myself and the important people in my life to figure out what the right path would be.


3. What were you involved in when you were on campus?

A lot — there wasn’t a committee or workshop I’d say no to. Being an involved student was one of the true highlights of my time at Holy Cross. I had a few different positions on SGA’s executive cabinet, ran a few of the weekend workshops, was a co-chair of the Spring Break Immersion Program, and was a Manresa leader.


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

This question was obviously somewhat answered above, but I was a very proud economics major. I think what I loved about economics is similar to what I love about the law. Part of the beauty of a liberal arts education is that you can deal so much in the abstract and the theoretical, but I really loved the practicality of economics, its applicability to the real world. The first class I took in the major was “Health Economics” taught by Melissa Boyle (my friend to this day). It was 2010, so right at the height of public debate over the Affordable Care Act (as if its ever really ended), and I loved how this one class had the ability to inform me and alter the way I thought about an issue that was so tangible and relevant to so many people. That same sensation has only ever really repeated itself for me in law school and, even more so, as a practicing lawyer. It’s also really not hard, as health care lawyer, to trace the through-line from Prof. Boyle’s Health Econ class on the second floor of Stein to the work I do everyday now.



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

I would say the biggest skill I learned is how to work. I can’t tell you how many people I want to law school with who were able to coast through four years of college at some really great schools because it just wasn’t challenging. I always felt challenged by the workload and rigor of Holy Cross and I think investing the time to do well in that environment has paid dividends to me both in law school and as a lawyer. Also, going back to being involved — I learned early on, especially in my role as Director of Academic Affairs on SGA, how to have substantive conversations with highly accomplished professional people and not feel overly intimidated. Being able to locate that poise feels like a uniquely Holy Cross skill, too. There aren’t too many places that bring students into the fold of institutional governance as fully as Holy Cross does, and that exposure was invaluable.


6. What advice do you have for students on campus today? 

“On campus” is a funny phrase these days, isn’t it? I think I’d encourage people to treat your time at Holy Cross like a laboratory experiment. You have four years to try things out; see what works and see what doesn’t, and be honest with yourself about what does and what doesn’t. I can promise your life will be richer because of it and things will fall into place.  And when you graduate, no matter what major you’ve chosen or what future you’ve laid for yourself, you’ll be accepted into a vibrant alumni community with open arms.

Meet Alum Neema Hakim ’14, Editor-in-Chief at Chicago Journal of International Law

Name: Neema Hakim

Class Year: 2014

Title: Editor-in-Chief

Organization Name: Chicago Journal of International Law


 1. In one sentence, what does your job entail? 

I manage the Chicago Journal of International Law, a student-edited publication at the University of Chicago Law School which features international law scholarship.


2. 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 was introduced to my first employer through the Washington Semester Program in 2013. During the spring semester of my junior year, I had the honor of interning at the Obama White House in the Office of Communications. I had no prior connections to Washington, DC or to the Administration. I just took a chance and applied online, driven by an earnest passion for public service. A year after my internship, I was offered a full-time job in the same office.


3. What were you involved in when you were on campus?

On campus, I participated in the Student Government Association as an intern, co-director of communications, and co-president. As co-president, I worked with peers at other local colleges and universities to found the Worcester Student Government Association.


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

At Holy Cross, I double majored in political science and philosophy. Political science familiarized me with our government institutions, while philosophy taught me to think creatively. That foundation allowed me to keep up in the crucible of the White House and to later serve as Assistant Press Secretary at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. My undergraduate studies also prepared me for law school, where I often call upon my understanding of policy and theory to think through legal problems.


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

At bottom, a liberal arts education at Holy Cross taught me to think critically. As Editor-in-Chief of the Chicago Journal of International Law, I need to understand how to identify strengths and weaknesses in legal argument and to recognize top international law scholarship. I also have to manage 43 editors and staff members. The tendency to take nothing for granted, cultivated at Holy Cross, permits me to fairly critique the work of others and offer productive feedback, both to scholars and to my colleagues.


6. What advice do you have for students on campus today?

Whatever you choose as your major and whatever career you pursue, remain open to being wrong. The right answer is rarely simple and often nuanced. Embrace that complexity. Challenge your peers, professors, and superiors, but do so respectfully and for the truth, not ego.

Meet Alumna Kathleen Reiser ’14, Attorney at The Law Office of Courtney P. Spencer, LLC

Name: Kathleen Reiser

Class Year: 2014

Job Title: Attorney

Organization Name: The Law Office of Courtney P. Spencer, LLC


1.  In one sentence, what does your job entail?

I believe that every child has a right to a free appropriate public education and I work  to ensure that every family and child has a voice within the special education system and receives the education they deserve.  I represent families with children with special needs in special education matters to help ensure children with disabilities are receiving an appropriate education.


2. 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 went to law school at night while working at The Hartford Insurance in environmental claims. I was interested in special education law while in law school, so I left The Hartford to clerk at my current firm. After graduating law school, I joined the firm as an associate. I knew this area of law was a good fit for me because I had a passion for the work.  While I was not able to take my classes focusing on special education law, it was important for me to get practical experience while I was in law school, which ultimately confirmed that this was an area of law that I was interested in.


3. What were you involved in when you were on campus?

On campus, I was involved in as much as I could be! In addition to different volunteer organizations, I was involved in SGA, Purple Key Society, Admissions Senior Interviewer, Student Advisory Board and an intern with OSI.


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

I was a political science major and was pre-law. I knew I wanted to go to law school prior to even college and was always interested in political science. I think more than anything, the well-rounded liberal arts education that Holy Cross provides helped me both in law school and in my career. Holy Cross taught me to think critically and how to look at an issue from a multitude of perspectives and I use this skill every day when evaluating a case in order to put forth the strongest argument for my client.


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

One of the strongest skills I took from Holy Cross was the ability to defend my convictions and ideas. This skill was extremely helpful during my first cold call in law school and continues to be helpful every day at work.


6. What advice do you have for students on campus today?

I think the best advice I can give, is to take classes and get involved in activities that may seem out of your interest realm. Holy Cross offers so many opportunities and provides a chance to explore different interests. Some of my favorite classes or on campus activities turned out to be courses/events that I went in underestimating. Most importantly, enjoy the four years on the hill because it goes by too fast!

Meet Alum Patrick Drain ’01, Deputy Foreign Policy Advisor to the Chief of Naval Operations

Name: Patrick C. Drain

Class Year: 2001

Job Title: Deputy Foreign Policy Advisor to the Chief of Naval Operations

Military Rank: Commander (O-5)

Organization Name: US Navy



1. In one sentence, what does your job entail?


I support the Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) through his Foreign Policy Advisor to by providing key information, analysis, and specific advice on a wide range of diplomatic and political-military issues that concern the U.S. Navy.



2. 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 joined the US Navy in 2001 upon graduating from Holy Cross, and initially I served as a Surface Warfare Officer.  It was a pretty good fit, but after about a decade I realized there was a better option for me within the Navy.


In 2011, I transferred into the Foreign Area Officer (FAO) Community in the Navy, which placed me in a cadre of Middle East (CENTCOM)-focused officers and offered one year of Arabic language training and a Master’s Degree in National Security Studies. My focus was to do my best as a Middle East FAO, and this eventually earned me enough recognition to be asked by name to join the CNO’s personal staff.


My tip on knowing if something is a good fit: If on most days you wake up in the morning and look forward to going to work, then you’re in the right place.  If on most occasions this doesn’t happen, then you should probably look for a new job.



3. What were you involved in when you were on campus?


Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC), all four years

Student Government Association – Class VP (freshman and sophomore years), SGA Parliamentarian (Junior Year)

Resident Assistant (Junior Year)

Students for Responsible Choices (Senior Year)

First Year Program



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


Political Science.  It was a reflection of my interest in international affairs, and I do not think it affected any of my career decisions.  I could have majored in anything at Holy Cross and gone down the same path.  They critical thing Holy Cross gave me is a firm foundation in thinking deeply about issues and the capability to intelligently express my ideas.



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


Writing.  The amount of writing – and the thorough analysis of our writing, at Holy Cross helped to hone a crucially important skill for many, many jobs.



6. What advice do you have for students on campus today?


Stick with what you love to do – you’ll work with more enthusiasm in these fields than you would otherwise.  Even if doing what you love means you will be starting at the bottom of what seems like an impossibly long ladder, it will be worth it in the long run.  People notice enthusiasm, and it will open doors you cannot imagine.


Don’t stick with jobs that are “comfortable.”  Once you get good at something and you feel like you’ve learned what you need to learn and you’ve got it down, it’s time to start thinking about where you want to go next.  Look to do things that will push your envelope and force you to learn more and be more than the comfortable job ever would.


Minor in a foreign language and aim for fluency!


Take a statistics course.

Meet Alumna Alyssa Trometter ’08, Deputy Director, External Affairs

Name: Alyssa Trometter

Class Year: 2008

Title: Deputy Director, External Affairs

Organization Name: Clinton Foundation


1. In one sentence, what does your job entail?

Driving forward best practices in supporting student entrepreneurs, identifying and sustaining our higher education partnerships, focusing on internal team dynamics, and people management.


2. 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 came to the Clinton Foundation back in 2015 as a postdoctoral fellow through the Mellon Foundation/American Council of Learned Societies Public Fellows program. The year my Doctorate was conferred, the Clinton Foundation had been selected to host a Public Fellow, I interviewed, and they selected me.


I discovered this postdoc during the throes of grad school. Quite honestly, I was having a bit of an existential crisis, as I couldn’t picture myself in the often unpredictable and ungratifying slog of post- PhD job searching within academia. Alternative career paths post- Doctorate always resonated with me, part of the reason why I worked for the US State Department during my PhD, nothing against academic but I knew my skills could transfer to the outside and they sure have! My stint at State gave me a glimpse into life in public affairs and I was hooked.


My first employer (pre- grad school) was actually Holy Cross, can you believe it?! I was a tour guide and senior interviewer throughout undergrad at HC, so when a job opened up in Admissions it made perfect sense in my mind to apply. I had the best first job out of college, I really think that my admissions road warrior life prepared me for my current career, which is very much external facing with lots of different personalities. I also lead our enrollment processes for the Clinton Global Initiative University now, so very much wear my admissions hat still!


3. What were you involved in when you were on campus?

Besides tour guide and senior interviewer (see above), I was also a member of the women’s rowing team and a summer and fall OL.


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

I was a History major and created my own concentration in Indigenous Studies. In every place I have worked (including academia), I have valued and (thankfully) have found strong, female leaders. Aligning myself with women, who believe in, advocate for, and fundamentally support other women, has proved paramount to my professional development. Being a History major at HC brought me my first female mentor and ultimate role model- Professor Gwenn Miller. If you haven’t taken a class with her, do yourself a favor and register straight away!


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

Talking to President Clinton about the Jesuits certainly comes in handy around the office. In all seriousness though, the ability to synthesize a large amount of information and distill it down.


6. What advice do you have for students on campus today?

Choose bridges not walls.

Meet #CrusaderIntern Michael Melch ’20, International Law Institute

Full Name: Michael Melch ‘20

Summer Internship: International Law Institute


1. What were you up to this past summer?

Last summer I interned at the International Law Institute in Georgetown, DC. I was responsible for the preparation of training seminars for international lawyers. My duties included marketing the seminars, coordinating with the experts who taught the seminar regarding the necessary materials, and interacting with participants to ensure that the meetings ran smoothly. As a result, I was able to attend many of the seminars on topics ranging from legislative drafting to anti-trust and competition.

2. What was your favorite part?

I really enjoyed interacting with the participants of the seminars who came from countries all over the world, such as Italy, Hungary, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Nigeria, and the Philippines, to name a few. The seminars often included site visits, and one of the highlights of my internship was leading a group of Chinese lawyers from the Shanghai Bar Association on a tour of the Supreme Court and US Capitol. Also, the International Law Institute arranged professional development trips designed for the interns to learn about various legal and economic organizations. The visits included law firms, the Federal Trade Commission, and my favorite, the World Bank.

3. What surprised you?

I was surprised by how many different nationalities came to expand their legal knowledge at the International Law Institute to better prepare themselves for their profession in their home countries. The specialized legal education and training may not be available in their home countries so they come to Washington D.C. to advance their legal careers or improve for the career they already have.

Meet #CrusaderIntern Delaney Wells ‘20, The Department of Justice, Disability Rights Section

Name: Delaney Wells ‘20

DC Internship: The Department of Justice, Disability Rights Section


1. What were you up to this past semester?

I worked as a legal intern in the Disability Rights Section of the Department of Justice. Interns came in before attorneys, architects, and investigators to begin work. My supervisor collected projects and tasks from other employees and assigned them among interns. This ensured we all had the opportunity to work on different cases concerning the ADA. I worked on a variety of projects at the same time, keeping my supervisor updated on my status through a spreadsheet tracking my progress. We reported directly to the attorney overseeing our project. This allowed me to establish excellent working and personal relationships through setting deadlines, editing assignments, grabbing lunch and  even attending an oral argument at the Supreme Court together. I took advantage of opportunities including brown bag lunches with attorneys, a special tour of the White House, and attending working groups with different agencies. These allowed for a holistic understanding of the Disability Rights Section, the organization of the Justice Department, and the inner-workings of politics in the Capital.


2. What was your favorite part?

I was able to complement my time at the Justice Department with sharing time in a local L’Arche community in Arlington,  VA. This allowed me to achieve a holistic approach to disability through technical and social perspectives. Sharing life in this home throughout the semester gave me a deeper and more complete understanding of how the work done by lawyers, architects, and investigators impacts the daily life of citizens.  Along with interning every day, I spent my Fridays and weekends at the L’Arche 6th Street home in Arlington, VA. Sharing time with the core members has provided a social dimension to complement the technical understanding of disability that I have gained through the DOJ. Learning about accessibility challenges, institutional conditions, rights and regulations introduced in Section 504 all come to life when I go to 6th Street and witness the struggle that many core members work through each day. From voting poll accessibility to lack of ASL translators at medical facilities, I have gained a full appreciation of the importance of the work within the Disability Rights Section. The complementary technical and social dimensions allowed me to begin discerning my vocation through practice of techniques I have learned on retreats and in spiritual groups on campus. My mind often jumped to the questions, “who am I, who do I want to become, and who do I want to be for and with others?”. I am leaving with some sort of understanding of the direction my life may take in disability advocacy. I will take this semester to reflect intentionally on my experience and see how it shapes my future regarding law school and further involvement in area of disability study, which is where I have truly found my home.


3. What surprised you?

I expected to work exclusively with lawyers each day as I was working in the Justice Department. However, this was not the case. Each day was totally different and I never knew what to expect. I was able to work on a case being actively litigated, with architects, service animal cases, and more. The variety  I was amazed at the amount of case work we were able to work on throughout the semester. On a day to day basis I worked on several memorandums for attorneys. These assignments allowed me to hone my writing skills and analytical thinking. I learned how to blue-book, a type of legal citation, when citing violations for a settlement agreement. I became acquainted with the Westlaw, Relativity, and Lexis platforms when performing background research on witnesses for a case that is being actively litigated. The varied experience I had at the Department of Justice has resulted in an ultimate understanding of the American Disabilities Act and its impact on citizens through advocacy as a platform for equality. I was treated like another employee within the Justice Department, not just as an intern.

Meet Summer Intern Laura Escolero ‘19, Research Assistant, Boston City Councilor Kim Janey

Full Name: Laura Escolero ‘19

Summer Internship: Boston City Councilor Kim Janey

What were you up to this past summer?

This past summer I was a research intern for Councilor Janey’s office of the seventh district of Boston. Most of my work had to do with researching and brainstorming plans for many issues that the city of Boston is facing such as gentrification, gun violence, trauma, homelessness, and education. During my time working for the city councilor, I was able to sit in many briefs and meetings and understand the process of local government rulings and procedures. I was also able to meet many of the local constituents and hear their voices and opinions on the issues we were directly working on at town hall and community/neighborhood meetings. This was definitely an eye opening and transformative experience as I was able to network and learn about the many challenges my home is facing and how I individually can hold my city representatives accountable.

What was your favorite part?

My favorite part about the internship was that it was very student oriented and I was able to work on issues that I cared the most about. For example, every intern did a research project of their choice and I researched police surveillance through the use of new emerging drones as it was a very concerning issue for many of the residents in Boston. All of the other offices also had college interns and every Friday we would all take “field trips” to local service centers and other community venues to learn about organizations that are helping the city with issues of housing, emergencies, and law enforcement to name a few.

What surprised you?

The most surprising part about my internship was how city councilors and many employees in city hall work all hours of the day and really take into consideration every single complaint or petition of constituents. I really didn’t realize how local officials take their work home everyday in order to improve conditions for each of their districts and how they work tirelessly to really get to know and be in solidarity with their residents.

Meet Alum Ajit Bhullar ’18, Intern with Public Citizen

Meet Alum Ajit Bhullar ’18, Intern with Public Citizen


Name: Ajit Bhullar

Class Year: 2018

Current Title/Employer: Intern with Public Citizen


In one sentence, what does your job entail?

In a time when our democratic process is being undermined now more than ever before, my role with Public Citizen primarily entails serving as a voice for the people through such means as organizing campaigns and grassroots movements.

What if any, unplanned events connected you to your industry and your first employer after Holy Cross?   

Reflecting on what it was I wanted to be doing that could be meaningful is what led to me wanting to enter this line of political work. I genuinely took the time to evaluate what it was that I wanted to do with myself to help establish a more positive impact on our society, which now more than ever is so important as we face a time of extreme divisiveness in politics. Ultimately, my drive to want to work towards this helped bring me to where I am now and paved the path on which I plan to continue.  

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

Knowing what my passions and interests were really helped make this decision easy. For me, it was never about simply having a job; but rather, I wanted to do something where I felt I was having an impact and helping bring about real change in our world today. I knew this think tank group in particular would be a good fit for me due to the fact that despite the ever changing dynamics of the political realm, Public Citizen remains focused and true to their mission statement of always working as an advocate for the people and for the well being of society. In today’s politics, you just do not see enough openness, honesty, and transparency and because of this, I knew Public Citizen was the group for me.

What were you involved in when you were on campus?  

I was a member of and captained the mock trial team, served as an Odyssey mentor, led a manresa retreat, volunteered with Working for Worcester, and studied abroad among various other activities during my time on the hill!

What was your major and how has it affected your career decisions?   

My major of philosophy had a profound impact on helping me pave my career path, as it taught me to always be in pursuit of knowledge and answers to some of the biggest challenges and fundamental questions we face in life. Philosophy as a major has had a positive effect on my decision to enter political work for this very reason. As part of my work, there is not simply a “one size fits all” solution to many of the issues, and because of this, it becomes important to truly and honestly evaluate everything and work towards getting to the root of the issue in order to handle and understand not only the problem itself but what then becomes necessary to fix the problem.

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

One important aspect I attribute to Holy Cross is understanding the importance of always being in the pursuit of justice and working for the well being of the community. Rooted in Jesuit values, acquiring this knowledge over the course of my Holy Cross education has only begun to manifest itself in the work I do. I hold this tradition in high regards when evaluating problems and seeking solutions to the various issues I am working on. Another important skill is to have a nice balance between both being confident and being humble. Learning to find the harmony amongst the two allows you to gain an honest understanding of not only your strengths, but also, on areas of yourself that can always be improved upon. This skill has been useful in my work as it has allowed me to not only be able to make a contribution from day one, but also, to sometimes sit back and understand a different perspective that I may otherwise have not realized. While I could go on for much longer about ways in which Holy Cross prepared me for the real world, I believe these are two important factors that Holy Cross helped instill in me which in turn allowed me to find and pursue my passions in life while also always seeking to gain a better understanding of the world around me.

Meet Alumna Erin Connolly ’17, Program Assistant- Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation

Meet Alumna Erin Connolly ’17, Program Assistant- Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation


Name: Erin Connolly

Class Year: 2017

Current Title/Employer:   Program Assistant/ Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation

In one sentence, what does your job entail?

I work to educate the public and policymakers (Congress) on nuclear nonproliferation and fissile materials policy by helping plan and host various events; writing op-eds; and briefing congressional staffers on our issues.

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

I wrote a paper my sophomore year for a National Security course that argued for a nuclear deal with Iran. While writing this paper, I found myself fascinated by nuclear nonproliferation policy, and it quickly became one of my favorite topics. I left for France, and when it came time to look for an internship I applied to the Center, using that paper as my writing sample. This internship was a vital introduction to the nuclear policy world. It provided me with the foundational knowledge to succeed, but also allowed me to make professional connections while living in Washington, D.C. which is how I learned about the position I currently hold.

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

My internship experience solidified my interest in the nuclear nonproliferation field. I was able to explore the various facets, from Iran, and North Korea, to U.S. nuclear weapons in Europe. My current position involves much more engagement with Congressional staffers and fissile materials; basically I do a lot of work to answer any questions they may have about highly enriched uranium, plutonium stockpiles, preventing nuclear terrorism and other subjects in this domain. We host dinners for members of Congress, a unique opportunity for engagement and education. I also am able to continue writing, I was fortunate enough to get a piece published in Teen Vogue with a colleague in the field (and former fellow intern!) and it’s great to connect with people my age on these issues.

What were you involved in when you were on campus?   

I was involved in the Purple Key Society, which is quite helpful for my event planning now; HEAL, Model UN, SPUD site leader, Manresa, Gateways, Appalachia trips, and I also worked in the History department,

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

I was an International Studies major, French minor and Peace and Conflict concentration. I loved engaging with the multidisciplinary major and in some ways I continue to do that. I am always continuing to learn in this job — from policy to science — and that is something I loved at Holy Cross and am grateful I get to bring that into my career.

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

The importance of asking questions and networking. It is always better to ask questions and do something correctly then to do it wrong. Everyone would prefer to answer your questions than to have you do it again! And networking is one of those things I did not want to believe was important, but it is. Maintaining relationships and connections is so key, especially when you work in a field that’s small like mine! I knew D.C. had gotten to me when I began bringing cards to every happy hour because you just never know who you will meet — friends of friends are great connections.