Photo Gallery: Class of 2018 Gets Taste of College Life at Summer Gateways Orientation

Memoir by world-renowned environmentalist is first-year common reading

July 9th, 2014 by 


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Incoming students and their parents were on campus in June for three separate sessions of Summer Gateways Orientation. The workshops, lectures, and special events allowed attendees to meet faculty and administrators, make friends, and learn about life in and out of the classroom.

First-year students are also reading “Unbowed,” by Wangari Maathai, the late environmental activist and winner of the 2004 Nobel Peace Prize. Maathai visited Holy Cross in 2006 and addressed the community in St. Joseph Memorial Chapel. Her talk is available as a podcast online. Estrella Cibreiro-Couce, dean for the Class of 2018 and professor of Spanish, chose the book for a number of reasons.

“I had long been an admirer of Wangari Maathai’s work,” she says. “The grass-roots organization she created, the Green Belt Movement, which has planted over 50 million trees in Africa to date, is a great example of the way communities can work together to protect the environment and to improve their living conditions at the same time. I also find her life story inspiring because it shows the importance of being true to your convictions and of persevering in spite of adversity. Above all, ‘Unbowed’ highlights, in my opinion, the power of education and the way you can use your education to transform the world, both at a local and global level. My hope is that students will be inspired by Maathai’s story as they embark on their own educational journey at Holy Cross and that they will look for ways they can change the world around them for the better.”

With Maathai’s book as inspiration, Cibreiro-Couce is organizing an alumni panel on Sept. 11 to learn about and celebrate the environmental and humanitarian work of Holy Cross alumni. She is inviting them to reflect on the impact of their Holy Cross education and on their convictions and careers. Alumni who will be taking part include Vivian Daly ’13, inside sales representative for Next Step Living, an energy-efficiency company; Helen Holden Slottje ’89, managing attorney at Community Environmental Defense Council Inc., and recipient of the 2014 Goldman Environmental Prize; Tim Mooney ’92, preserves manager for Francis Carter Preserve & Tillinghast Pond Management Area at the Nature Conservancy; and Emily Sullivan ’14, environmental specialist at Triumvirate Environmental.

This is Cibreiro-Couce’s first year as class dean, a role that will allow her to stay with the incoming class from matriculation through graduation.

“I am very excited to have taken on the position of class dean because I truly enjoy working with students,” she says. “I am always inspired by Holy Cross students’ energy, kindness, idealism, and inquisitiveness, and I look forward to helping them with their everyday challenges as well as their long term goals. This position will give me an opportunity to help young adults shape their future and that is exciting and transformative for me.”

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