Meet Alum Sean Callahan ’89, Mission Director for USAID/Afghanistan

Name: Sean E Callahan 

Class Year: 1989

Title: Mission Director for USAID/Afghanistan 

Organization Name: U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID)


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

I am responsible for creating, implementing and leading US foreign assistance programs based on sound development principles for the Afghan people including promoting human rights, democracy, and human rights; supporting Afghan women and girls; and mitigating the effects of the humanitarian and economic crises in Afghanistan.


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?  

My Holy Cross semester in Washington DC exposed me to so many different international organizations, think tanks, issues and views that were part of the policy and legislative making process related to international affairs that I was unaware of until then. That semester made me more interested in international issues. My job after Holy Cross was as a legal assistant at a Wall Street law firm. While I thought about law school then and the lawyers there impressed me, I wasn’t interested in a corporate law job nor going to law school just yet. It took 6 years and deferring admission three times before I went to grad school for a joint JD/MPA. Instead, I moved to Southeast Asia first as a Princeton-In-Asia fellow and then with the International Catholic Migration Commission working on refugee matters. 


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

 I was on the varsity swim team and started the water polo club. I hope it is still going. I was also part of the Film club where we picked and showed independent and foreign “films” in Hogan and then more Hollywood style movies in lower Kimball on the weekends. 


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

My major was political science. Courses in political theory, comparative systems, political economy, history and even the classics made me interested in how the US and other countries analyze and address serious issues such as refugees, sovereign debt, humanitarian crises and the other development challenges. This led to looking for work and experiences overseas. 


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

First and foremost, the strong belief – that the Cross instilled in me – of service for others. Even after 20+ years in development work and despite the bureaucracy of the US government, I still strongly believe in the USAID’s mission to help others which I credit to Holy Cross. The most used skill that HC taught me was inquisitiveness. To understand people and problems in order to get to a solution – whether how to unlock financial liquidity in the Afghanistan or create space for civil society in Afghanistan – one needs to understand the underlying reasons and problems. However, the only way to get there is to ask questions and lots of them.


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

Get out of your comfort zone. Travel. Meet new people. Be patient. No one lands their dream job right out of school or even after several different jobs. I would also advise against faking it. Trust your heart and look at what motivates you whether it’s public service; the private sector; a religious calling; academia or the fine arts. It all falls in place eventually if you stay true to yourself. 

Meet Alum Chris Mann ’00, Vice President / Corporate Sponsorships at City Year

Name: Chris Mann

Class Year: 2000

Title: Vice President, Corporate Partnerships

Organization Name: City Year, Inc.


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

My job is to work with major companies on ways to partner with City Year, putting their resources, people and expertise to use helping students and schools succeed.


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 very interested in sports marketing and event management as a potential career. Doing an internship with the Special Olympics my junior year really opened me up to the realization that I could have a job where I was focused on those things while also doing good. John Hayes ’91 was working in the development office at Holy Cross and I was lucky to have him become a mentor to me while I was leading the senior class gift effort. After talking a bit about what I was looking for in a career, John thankfully connected me with Cyndi (Carton) O’Brien ’93, leading to my first interview and job at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute & The Jimmy Fund and starting me on my career path at the intersection of companies and causes coming together to drive better business and greater good.


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

I was a member of the track & field team, helped start the Gateways summer orientation program, served as senior class president, and did two Spring Break service trips with Habitat for Humanity among other activities. Each gave me an opportunity to make long-term friendships, build my skills at being part of and leading teams, and managing the busy schedule gave me a great head in adjusting to the workplace.


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

I was a psychology major with a minor in art history. Neither were directly related to my career path, but in hindsight I do think they both taught lessons about what it means to be human. The liberal arts education and academic rigor at Holy Cross also really helped me to develop into a creative thinker, a clear & concise writer, and hopefully a life-long learner.


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

In addition to the critical thinking and writing skills, I think building relationships across so many different groups of people including fellow students, teammates & coaches, professors & administrators, and future students and their parents through all of my activities really helped me. It forced me out of my comfort zone and made me much more comfortable in my own skin. That ability to connect with others has been critical as I have pursued more public and people-oriented jobs in fundraising, marketing and communications.


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

I would advise students to be patient and kind with themselves. There is so much pressure in today’s world to live up to your own and others expectations. To find the right job, to be successful, to present yourself in a certain way.  Building a career and a life for yourself is something that happens gradually over time, not all at once. I was really fortunate to receive some good advice early on to find work that you are personally passionate about with people who can help you learn and grow. I’ve tried to follow that throughout my career and it has worked out very well for me.

Meet #CrusaderIntern Juliana Holcomb ’19, The Ana Grace Project

Dr. Noel Casiano, my supervisor (L) and me (R)


Full Name: Juliana Holcomb ‘19

Summer Internship: The Ana Grace Project


1. What were you up to this past summer?

This past summer, I was a research and data intern at The Ana Grace Project in New Britain, CT.   Created after the tragedy at Sandy Hook which took the life of Ana Grace Márquez-Green as well as many others, this not-for-profit organization is dedicated to bringing social emotional learning, trauma-informed care, and school-based mental health services into New Britain Elementary schools through their “Love Wins” program.  In this role, I analyzed teacher, school administrator, and faculty-reported responses from the ARTIC (Attitudes Related to Trauma Informed Care) measure; collected, organized, and explained trends in disciplinary-related outcomes between 2012-2018 from the Connecticut State Department of Education; and wrote, edited, and prepared APA-style manuscripts for publication.  I was able to contribute to three manuscripts that will hopefully be published in the near future and two manuals for the “Love Wins” program.


2. What was your favorite part?

My favorite part was learning about the specific ways in which the “Love Wins” program impacted the elementary school-aged children of New Britain.  Through the data and trends I analyzed, I was able to witness the ways in which the implementation of “Love Wins” quantitatively improved school-based outcomes such as in- and out-of-school suspensions and chronic absenteeism.  On a more qualitative level, I was able to learn about individual stories of how “Love Wins” impacted the New Britain community which was equally as inspiring. Hearing these testimonials made me very hopeful for the future of school-based mental health services.

I also was awestruck by the strength, dedication, and passion of Nelba Márquez-Green as she worked tirelessly each and every day to improve the educational system for low-income students and students of color so that a tragedy like Sandy Hook, which took the life of her daughter, would never happen again.  Her dedication was unlike any I had ever seen before, and I was fortunate to work with her.


3. What surprised you?

I was surprised by the amount of collaboration that took place within The Ana Grace Project.  People from all different backgrounds and career paths came together to create this not-for-profit and manage its implementation within schools.  For example, mental health professionals such as Marriage Family Therapists, Licensed Mental Health Counselors, Social Workers, Psychologists, and Psychiatrists all worked together in order to provide the school-based mental health services to students as well as counsel them individually and in a family or group setting.  Teachers, within the many elementary schools of New Britain, were also a critical piece of the “Love Wins” program which I saw when I went to a talent show at one of the schools. The administrators and staff of the school were also highly involved. Seeing this community collaboration was a happy surprise I saw during my time at The Ana Grace Project.  They practiced what they preached and emphasized community relations and support in all that they did.

Meet #CrusaderIntern Rachel Checo ’20, Sanctuary for Families

Meet #CrusaderIntern Rachel Checo ’20, Sanctuary for Families

(Pictured second from the right)


Full Name: Rachel Checo ’20

Summer Internship: Sanctuary for Families


What were you up to this past summer?

This past summer, I interned at a nonprofit organization called Sanctuary for Families. This organization particularly helps survivors of violence, such as domestic violence, human trafficking, sex trafficking and violence within the LGBTQ community. I helped with updating the volunteer packet with information that are useful for future volunteers to know who would like to help the organization in any way that they can. I also helped with a few research projects in regards to violence, and helped set up for the Zero Tolerance event, an annual event that helps raise awareness on violence.


What was your favorite part?

My favorite part was being able to bond with other interns at Sanctuary for Families, and getting to know them personally. I enjoyed bonding with my coworkers and learning more about the important work Sanctuary for Family does.


What surprised you?

What surprised me was the amount of information I learned about violence in general. I learned a lot about what human trafficking is and how domestic violence not only affects the victims but their children as well. I also learned a great deal about teen dating violence and what are the signs of being in an healthy and unhealthy relationship.

Meet Alum Liam Driscoll ’17, 3rd Grade Teacher in Denver

Name: Liam Driscoll
Class Year: 2017
Title: 3rd Grade Teacher
Organization Name: Annunciation Catholic School (Denver, CO)

In one sentence, what does your job entail?

My job entails pouring out endless amount of love over a bunch of little eight year olds, and building a community of love and growth in our 3rd grade classroom!

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

Heading into my senior year I knew I wanted to do something other than work construction! I started to think my niche might be in teaching after I spent a lot of time coaching kids in lacrosse.

Secondly, I was planning on doing some sort of work like this because the classes on Liberation Theology had such a profound impact on me. After studying this stuff, I couldn’t just talk the talk about faith and social justice issues. I had to walk the walk, and I thought teaching was the best way for me to walk this walk.

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

The people in this program are great people. Much like the people at Holy Cross. Graduates of the program were kind enough to talk to me about their experiences with ACE, and I was hooked.

My sister’s best friend did ACE, so she connected me with many of the people in the program. So, I am in debt to her!

What were you involved in when you were on campus?

While on campus, I was primarily involved with the Men’s Lacrosse team, and the opportunities that came with being on that team. Additionally, I was involved in Big Brothers, teaching CCD at St. John’s, volunteering at St. Mary’s nursing home, and spending time with a great group of friends that I am lucky to have in my life!

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

What I studied at Holy Cross is a mouthful. I majored in Religious Studies and Asian Studies, and had a concentration in Peace and Conflict.

The Religious Studies major affected my career decision by teaching me that we are called to serve. We have the power to combat injustice by completely giving ourselves away. Specifically, we are called to serve those who have less than us. We must be Good Samaritans, and ask the question “If I do not stop and help this man (or woman), what will happen to them?”

Lastly, the Religious Studies Major was so meaningful to me because my classmates were incredible people. I was fortunate to be surrounded by many loving, inspirational people through this major. What they did in and out of the classroom was awe inspiring. Particularly the women in the major. Their work ethic and vision for the world is contagious. We need more people like them!

The Asian Studies major affected my career decision in two ways. I majored in Asian Studies because “heck, why not?” So, that taught me to follow what I was passionate about. Second, it taught me to venture out of my own bubble and have an “open mind.” While I learned a lot about Chinese language and culture, and Japanese history and politics, the most profound impact it had on me was teaching me to be present. I learned this in Asian Philosophy and Intro to East Asian Religions.

The Peace and Conflict Studies opened my eyes to many harsh realities in the world. And while there are many harsh realities in the world, in spite of the pain, there is a beauty in the faith of those who have a lot less than us, and who have been treated far worse than us.

Peace and Conflict Studies taught me we must act to make the world a better place. Consistent resilience to help others. It ain’t gon’ fix itself! The responsibility is ours, people!

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

One “skill” I learned at Holy Cross is a particular set of leadership qualities. Leadership means service. Service means putting others before yourself and struggling for those people. What makes a successful team is a selfless leader, and a relentless worker at the helm. Successful leaders build their team’s foundation on love. While I should not claim to have this skill mastered, I do hope that in my teaching I have been able to lead the kids by putting their needs above mine, and giving them every ounce of love and energy that I have.

What advice do you have for students on campus today?

One, take classes taught by Matt Eggemeier and Peter Fritz. They will transform the way you think, even if you do not remember the specific lessons. They make you uncomfortable, mentally and spiritually. That is what makes Holy Cross a special place, being put to the test as a Christian and as a student, with the hope that eventually you will develop into a servant leader! The material you cover is mind blowing! It’s like rock ‘n’ roll religion class. It forces you to act.

Two, it’s the people at Holy Cross that make it a special place. You can take classes anywhere. This brand of people is tough to come by, however. So, spend time with them, get to know them and their stories, and grow with them! They are incredible people and that is what will teach you to be men and women for and with others. HC people are cream of the crop! Don’t wait ‘til senior week to realize that because you were by yourself in the library all day. With that said, get your work done on time! I got a very bad grade in one class because I handed in a paper late because I was too busy talking to people!

Three, get into the city of Worcester. Get out of the Holy Cross “bubble.” We are in a unique location that allows us to serve. On top of that, we are in a unique location that allows the Worcester people to teach us something! So, go out into the community. But, before you do that, know that the people you interact with are probably going to serve you more than you serve them! Get moving, people! Moving mountains starts with moving a pebble!!

Lastly, work your tails off! You have to be resilient and gritty!

Meet Crusader Intern Laura Escolero ’19 at Generation Teach

Tell us about where you are interning and the kind of work you are doing.

I am interning at an academic program for middle school students located in Boston and I specifically teach health and fitness.

What has surprised you about being an intern?

Working at Generation Teach has made me realize all of the training and skill building teachers have to go through in order to be able to teach during the school year. It has definitely shown me that teaching may be one of the most difficult jobs and it is a job where you never stop growing and adjusting your teaching to better reach out to students.

How did this experience influence or connect to your future career plans / goals?

This experience influenced my goal of working with children in an academic setting and has allowed me to realize what career path I want to follow.

Any internship advice to pass on to other Holy Cross students?

This internship had a lot of expectations and demanded long hours, which consisted of 9.5 hours daily and on some days of the week, programming was 12 hours long. My advice for Holy Cross students would be to expect to work long hours and have enough available time during the summer to devote to this internship.


Meet Leyda Frias ’18 Intern at Part of the Solution (POTS)

Meet Leyda Frias ’18 Intern at Part of the Solution (POTS)

Tell us about where you are interning and the kind of work you are doing.

This past summer I was working at Part of the Solution (POTS), a non-profit in the Bronx, NY. At POTS, I worked with the legal clinic, where we prevented evictions. Some of my major assignments for the summer include, making six month and year follow up calls to recipients of an emergency fund, aid in the preparation for fair hearings and eventually I was even able to complete my own intake for new incoming clients. I was also fortunate to shadow lawyers and legal advocates in housing court and administrative court.

What was your favorite part of your internship?

My favorite part was directly interacting with clients, whether it was during intakes or just simply helping them write a letter to their landlord. It was rewarding to see that I was making at least a small difference in their lives.

What has surprised you about being an intern?

I realized that too many people in these communities do not know how to properly read their leases, which hinders them from knowing all their rights and what a landlord can and cannot do.

Meet CrusaderIntern Vanessa Costa ’18

Meet Vanessa Costa ’18 Special Events Intern at Cystic Fibrosis Foundation

Tell us about where you are interning and the kind of work you are doing.

This summer, I interned at the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, a nationwide nonprofit dedicated to the fight to find a cure for Cystic Fibrosis, a genetic disease affecting 30,000 children and young adults in the United States. I had the privilege of working at the MA/RI chapter of the foundation with an amazing group of dedicated individuals. Throughout my internship, I collaborated with my team and aided in the preparation and production of about six or seven different major fundraising events, some of which I saw through to the end, and others of which are still to come. The majority of my time at my internship was spent on two events, in particular; a weekend-long hiking event in the Berkshires, and a three-course cycling event coming up in October.

My internship projects included recruiting participants and sponsors, attaining donated auction items and local services, preparing mailings, maintaining itemized inventory and organization pre- and post-events, as well as many other tasks. All of the money raised at each of these fundraising events goes toward supporting medical efforts to find a cure for CF, while also allowing the foundation to provide support and resources to CF patients and their families.

Give us an example of how you have applied your academic learnings to your internship?

As a Sociology major, I have gained a deeper appreciation for the diversity of the world and its peoples. I have become more open-minded and understanding as a person, which I have found to be extremely beneficial when interacting with different types of individuals. This proved particularly beneficial during my internship when I had to interact with such individuals as corporate leaders, small business owners, and CF patients and their families.

What has surprised you about being an intern?

It surprised me how willing my coworkers and supervisors were to accept me into their space. I immediately felt like part of the family, like I belonged there. I think that’s why it felt so strange to leave at the end of my internship; I didn’t want it to end.

How did this experience influence or connect to your future career plans / goals?

This internship definitely strengthened my desire to make a difference in the world, and it reaffirmed that I had made the right decision by choosing Sociology as my major. I want to help people in the future; help make their lives a little easier and fairer. For that reason, I would really love to pursue a career in social justice or social welfare.

Any internship advice to pass on to other Holy Cross students?

Put yourself out there. Give everything your best shot and don’t shy away from new experiences. You never know who you are going to meet and how much of an impact something or someone might have on your life and your passions.


My Alumni Job Shadowing Experience at Seaport Veterinary Hospital


Name: Gillary Garcia
Class Year: 2020
Major: Religion Studies
Shadowing Visit Site: Seaport Veterinary Hospital

Describe your visit and what did you gain from the experience?

During my visit I was able to sit in appointments and see how the doctors dealt with the animals and the cases that were presented to them. I was able to scrub in and see a spay procedure be done. The doctor explained everything he was doing so I was able to understand every step of the procedure.

How did this experience influence or connect to your future career plans/goals?

I have always wanted to be a veterinarian so I was so happy to be able to participate in the alumni shadow program because I could experience what a day in a veterinary hospital is like. There was so much I learned in that one day.

What is some helpful advice your alumni host shared with you?

One piece of advice my alumni host shared with me was to be open minded for the different opportunities there are to work with animals. Working with animals is not necessarily always a hospital setting, so he told me to get out there and to try different things! The alumni advised me to become involved in volunteer work early and to really get experience with working with animals. It can be as simple as volunteering at shelters or joining summer programs. He told me to pay attention to vet school prerequisites but to also be a well-rounded student in other subjects as well.

Why would you recommend the Alumni Job Shadowing Program to other students?

I would recommend the Alumni Job Shadowing Program to other students because it is a great way for them to see what goes on in a regular day for their desired career. If a student is unsure of what they want to pursue, the alumni shadow program is a great way for them to explore new things!

Want to explore an interest? Consider applying to the Winter Break Alumni Job Shadowing Program and spend the day with an alum. Click the button below to learn more about the application process.

Meet CrusaderIntern Maureen Hodgens ’19

Maureen Hodgens’19 interned at SenseAbility Gym this summer. Learn all about the fun and rewarding work she is doing tutoring kids.

Tell us about where you are interning and the kind of work you are doing.

I am interning at SenseAbility Gym, a nonprofit corporation serving special needs children in the greater Worcester area. The gym, located in Hopedale Massachusetts, provides children a safe, clean, spacious area where kids can play and accommodate their sensory needs.

I run the Summer Refresher Program which provides one-on-one academic support (mostly reading comprehension and math) to students. The gym is an excellent location for sessions because students are able to earn break time where they can choose what they would like to do based on their needs (such as relaxing in the quiet room or jumping on the trampoline). The gym serves as a great setting for learning and focus, and the kids feel safe and comfortable going to the gym because many of them have been going since they were just 2 or 3 years old. In addition to tutoring, I also help out at open gym, which is unstructured time where parents and kids can play together while using the equipment. I have been able to assist instructors and other professionals (such as occupational therapists, special education teachers, social workers, and speech pathologists) to help teach children different social, emotional, and physical skills.

Give us an example of how you have applied your academic learnings to your internship?

I took the course, Educational Psychology, last semester where I learned about many of the challenges that children face on a daily basis at home and in the classroom. These may include a learning disability, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, developmental disorder, physical disorder, sensory disorder, speech and language disorder, autism spectrum disorder, or emotional and behavioral disorder. Reading about the descriptions of these types of disabilities in a textbook and then memorizing them was a good start, but definitely not sufficient enough to gain a real grasp of these challenges. In order to understand the obstacles that these children face, it is necessary to interact with them and get to know them as a whole person, which is what this internship has provided. Although these labels are used in order to identify and classify types of disabilities, I have learned that even children within these “boxes” are completely different and special in their own way. Through my internship, I have also learned that a child can never be expected to act the same or have the same needs as another child with the same diagnosis. This experience helped me to see students in a much more holistic way.

What has surprised you about being an intern?

It’s surprising that internships can actually be really fun! The work I do isn’t easy by any means, but after spending so much time planning a tutoring session and then executing it, the feeling afterwards is so rewarding. I was also surprised at how quickly I felt welcome at my workplace community. Thanks to my supervisors, Tina and Alysia, as well as the other members of the SenseAbility Gym community, I love going into work each day. I learn something new every day! I think that for a lot of college students, the word “internship” can cause some anxious or negative feelings. However, I have learned that an internship can actually be a positive experience that enriches your skills and helps you to grow as a person.

How did this experience influence or connect to your future career plans / goals?

As a future educator, it is a top priority for me to have exposure and experience with children of ALL needs, and most especially those who have special needs. This internship has reaffirmed my love of children and teaching.

I have learned about classroom strategies to help students with Sensory Integration Dysfunction (SID) such as reducing sensory overload, providing comfortable furniture, planning movement breaks between and during activities, and devising team or group experiences. When coping with sensory integration dysfunction, it’s important for future teachers to know that growing older doesn’t mean getting better at many physical or intellectual tasks. Many teachers don’t learn about SID in their educational training, but the child with SID often has enormous difficulty in the classroom. These students will play a key role in my future classroom, lesson planning, and ultimate execution of my lessons as a teacher.

As a content teacher, I will be able to collaborate effectively with my special education professionals to make the classroom environment more welcoming and effective for all students. Exposure to these children and their parents early on in my training will allow me to facilitate future collaboration with the special education department and enrich the experiences of my future students on IEP’s and 504’s. I’m so grateful that I have had the opportunity to work with children with a variety of needs in an educational setting so far this summer– I have already gained so much more confidence working with children of all abilities!

Any internship advice to pass on to other Holy Cross students?

There’s no doubt that finding a summer internship can be really hard. Sometimes you end up accepting an internship that isn’t your #1 choice, and that’s okay. If you go into your internship with an open mind, you can end up applying what you have learned in ways you never thought were possible. Even though your internship may not be exactly what you want to do everyday for the rest of your life, you can still acquire skills that will help you in the future. If you don’t enjoy your internship even after coming in with an open mind, remember that crossing off a career field from your list is still beneficial. Make note of what you enjoyed doing during your internship, as well as what aspects of your day you didn’t love as much. Tracking what makes you passionate as an intern can help to determine what future job is the best fit for you. Narrowing down a career search is always a positive, so accepting an internship will always be a win-win situation for you!