At Convocation, Seniors Describe Intangibles of Holy Cross Experience

January 31st, 2013 by 

On the eve of their last semester at Holy Cross, members of the Class of 2013 reconnected and reflected at Senior Convocation, Jan. 21, in St. Joseph Memorial Chapel. The annual event features speeches, poetry and music that encourage students to think about the last three and a half years at Holy Cross and consider how best to use their final semester to shape the life they want to lead.

After a welcome by Martin Connors ’13, Senior Convocation scholar Kelsey Russell ’13 addressed her classmates. She described the restrictions of the “all-important resume” for Holy Cross students by a story of her time spent at Abby’s House, a woman’s shelter in Worcester and a Student Programs for Urban Development site for student volunteers, and how these moments, like many other experiences shared at Holy Cross, cannot be conveyed through a bullet-pointed resume. Her essay follows this feature. .

Kara Donovan ’13 read a poem titled “Kindergarten Graduation” recalling her fear of“graduating” without a future.

Nancy Baldiga, dean of the Class of 2013, addressed her class on the ways in which the people in her life have made the biggest impact and similarly, how the class of 2013 can inspire each other in their last semester.

Seniors Kibbs Fortilus, Nicholas Tasca, James Simmons, Paige Wesson and Richard Pellegrini described vivid memories to encapsulate each year of their shared experience at Holy Cross.

Another Senior Convocation scholar, Elizabeth Harkins ’13 gave an address that surmised that imperfections and unmet expectations actually lead to new opportunities and paths to success. Her essay will appear in the next issue of Holy Cross Magazine.

Two musical performances were given at the convocation. Seniors Alison Christopher ’13 and Suzanne Crifo ’13 sang Stephen Schwartz’s “For Good” and, later, Katherine-Anne Sipolt Rosenthal ’13 performed “Solfeggietto” by Karl Philipp Emanuel Bach on the harp.

Rev. Philip Boroughs, S.J., president of the College, addressed the students, and Chaplains Marty Kelly and Meg Fox-Kelly gave a blessing to close out the ceremony.

“Resumes. 8 inches by 11. 1 page.”

By Kelsey Russell ’13

Here we are in the middle of our senior year — the year of job applications, letters of recommendations and the all-important resume; that tidy compilation of accomplishments, honors, achievements, and skills; the blueprint of your academic story thus far.

Not too long ago, as I sat working on my resume, pushing out margins and playing with fonts, I suddenly felt how restricting this document is, especially for a Holy Cross student. When most of us spend our days running from classes to meetings to office hours to practices and rehearsals, how could we ever boil it down to bullet points on a Word document? But alas, as we apply for our first jobs, to graduate schools and programs abroad, we must condense, summarize and trim the edges of our stories.

But as we embark upon our final semester at our home away from home, I take comfort in the fact that tucked between the lines of our well-polished resumes, are the memories, experiences, and lessons we have discovered on and around Mount St. James.

On paper, a resume says Major (colon): chemistry, political science, theater, econ, history, math, biology, English, music and so on. But we know there’s more to that story. Woven into that single word, are memories of your first lab, or that time you had IR with Professor Cass; your first Shakespeare anthology, all 1500 pages of it; of that time you moved into the math lounge before a test only to find the rest of your class did too! These are not just words; they are your first pair of those styling lab goggles; they are the first time you met Professor, or Ed, Isser; they are that time you finally got the highest pure product yield.

On paper, a resume says, GPA: 3.5, 3.2, 3.7, or like most of us 4.0. But in the spaces between those numbers are memories of all nighters — remember the days before Dinand went 24-5? Gosh, how did we even survive? Yes, in those spaces are cup after cup after cup coffee, or chai’s, whichever you prefer; squeezed in that little space on your resume is that moment you realized A’s at Holy Cross were harder to find then Katherine McKenna.

On paper, a resume lists your activities: club hockey player; member of the Purple Key Society; CASA chair; SPUD director; Moot Court competitor; Public Affairs intern; singer in the College Choir; lector, communion minister, greeter; pitcher for the men’s baseball team; Big Brother, Big Sister; lab TA; tutor in the Writer’s Workshop. But within this text are a host of stories, recollections and life lessons.

For me, one particular story comes to mind. Reviewing my resume, an employer will see that I was an overnight volunteer at Abby’s House, a shelter for battered women and children, and can get a sense of some of the responsibilities this entails. But when I type the words Abby’s House volunteer, they stare back at me. I stop, cursor blinking, screen dimming, and I am reminded of Francis, a 19-year-old woman who I met on my first overnight. She came home to the shelter around 11 p.m., exhausted and hungry after a long day of school and a long night at work. A cashier at a Wal-Mart near her school, Francis walked five miles home from work every night; she could not afford the fare for public transit. I sat in the dining room as she ate her dinner and we started talking about our favorite foods. She said she missed the Haitian food her aunt used to make on holidays. I told her I really missed baking with my mom and sisters. We talked for over an hour and went to bed around 1. About a week later I returned for my second overnight stay and right on schedule, Francis walked in around 11. When she saw me, she smiled and she went right to the kitchen. “I have a surprise,” she told me, rummaging through the cabinet. She pulled out that signature red box, Betty Crocker brownie mix. That was one of the kindest gifts I have ever received.

But stories like these don’t belong on a resume. They are the unspoken qualifications of the Holy Cross student — the Jesuit mission. Over the course of our final semester at our beloved school, I challenge you to read between the lines of your impressive list of accomplishments and to live beyond the margins.

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