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245 Students Participate in Service Projects During Spring Break

An additional 58 students took part in business workshops, a spiritual retreat and choral performances
March 21st, 2016 by 
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Hundreds of students at the College of the Holy Cross took advantage of the many opportunities offered on and off campus during spring break—from spiritual exercises to immersion trips to business workshops.

Here are some highlights:

Spring Immersion Trips

245 students participated in a week of service through the consistently popular Spring Break Immersion Program. Students traveled to locations throughout the U.S. where they engaged in volunteer work and connected with local community members through service that included meal preparation at shelters, home repairs, working with elderly and people with disabilities, and exploring immigration issues.

The large number of students engaged with communities in 24 different locations across 11 states.

Students traveled to 15 sites in the Appalachian region, across West Virginia, Virginia, and Kentucky. The array of Appalachian sites, which have been at the heart of the immersion program since its establishment, offered over 180 students diverse opportunities to connect with communities and to engage in and understand the issues that affect them.


Carly Priest ’18 building handicap picnic tables for a park in Narrows, Va.

“During our week in Narrows, Va., we helped widen hiking trails, built handicap picnic tables, and clear part of a future baseball field,” says Catarina Teves ’16, a psychology major with a biological psychology concentration. “Every night we ate dinner with members of the community (who fed us very well!) and then went to an event in the community, such as a bonfire, volleyball game, haunted house, and basketball with kids. We really enjoyed our time there and would like to thank Narrows for their generous hospitality!”

Students also served in L’Arche communities in five different locations: Mobile, Ala.; Syracuse, N.Y.; St. Louis, Mo.; Jacksonville, Fla.; and Haverhill, Mass. L’Arche is an international network of communities that enables people with and without disabilities to live in faith and community together.


Holy Cross students with L’Arche community members in St. Louis, Mo.

“We did a lot of cooking, spring cleaning, arts and crafts, and singing,” says Christine Chevalier ’16, a chemisty major and Asian studies minor. “We shared time with the whole L’Arche community and felt truly welcomed. Each member of the community is treated as an equal, something we feel the world could learn from.”

Two urban sites—in Chicago and Camden, N.J.—offered students the opportunity to learn about urban poverty and social economic issues through work at social service agencies including food banks and urban youth centers. Additionally, students prepared meals and provided other services for the homeless and their families in Alamosa, Colo., and continued relief work to support the communities affected by Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans.


Students stand in front of the house they worked to renovate in New Orleans. They were tasked with installing laminate flooring into the house and left well wishes to the future homeowners on the underside of one of the boards.

“We worked to help rebuild houses with the St. Bernard Project,” says psychology major Patricia Gianfagna ’16, “an organization that helps to rebuild homes for families that were affected by Katrina and also creates affordable housing for the people of New Orleans.”

Learn more about the Spring Break Immersion Program.

COES Business Workshops

21 students participated in rigorous and immersive business workshops offered by The Ciocca Office of Entrepreneurial Studies (COES), which focused on advertising and communications/public relations; and sales and marketing. While students had the option of attending either workshop, many attended both.

The workshops were run by alumni professionals and included business simulations, case studies and team projects. This direct exposure to the professional world included spending one afternoon shadowing five alumni at Racepoint Global, a communications firm in Boston; and preparing and presenting real-world solutions to Brian Kelley ’83, president and CEO of Keurig Green Mountain, who traveled to campus for this specific event. The workshops helped students develop job search confidence, while simultaneously giving them the tools to leverage their liberal arts degree in the business world.

Students interested in participating in COES alumni-led programs, such as these spring break workshops, have completed Fullbridge Professional Edge, a week-long immersion program covering introduction to business. These programs help students connect their liberal arts education to the marketplace and are a part of the COES Professional Certificate Program.


Students discuss marketing and public relations with Erin Knapp ’12 at Racepoint Global, a communications firm in Boston.

“The COES Spring Break Workshop gave me the hands-on business experience I had been craving,” says Casey Carty ’18, a political science major. “From engaging alumni to marketing propositions, the COES Spring Break Workshop allowed me to explore my passions and hone in on where I fit into the world of business.”

Learn more about the Ciocca Office of Entrepreneurial Studies.

College Choir

25 members of the College Choir along with David Harris, director of College Choirs, traveled down south to Alabama for a series of performances. Their travels included visits to Birmingham; Gorham’s Bluff in Pisgah, where they performed at Gorham’s Bluff Town Hall; and a performance with the Tuscaloosa Symphony Orchestra and Vestavia Hills United Methodist Choir at University of Alabama’s Mood Music Hall in Tuscaloosa.

The choir was accompanied by Normand Gouin, assistant chaplain and director of liturgy and music; Christina Cetti, community development coordinator of Wheeler Hall; and vocalist Laurel Mehaffey.


The Holy Cross Choir performing Poulenc’s Gloria with the Tuscaloosa Symphony Orchestra and Vestavia Hills United Methodist Choir in Tuscaloosa, Ala.

“The South offered everything I thought it would and more: sweet personalities (and even sweeter tea), and above all, unparalleled hospitality,” says Adam Ouellet ’16, a music and history double major. “Not only were our hosts extremely gracious, but the musicians and fellow singers we worked with were welcoming and warm. The concert program we brought to Alabama was challenging and singing with a choir we have never collaborated with before was an adjustment, but by the end of the trip, we made extraordinary improvements and became a musical force to be reckoned with.”

Learn more about the College Choir.

Spiritual Exercises

12 students participated in a five-day silent retreat, an adapted version of the traditional Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola. The retreat, which took place at the Campion Renewal Center in Weston, Mass., gave students the space to reflect on their lives and their relationship to others as well as reflect more deeply on their faith.

In addition to time set aside for personal reflection and spiritual contemplation, the chaplain retreat directors engage students in liturgies and thematic talks to help assist in their faith journeys.

Directors of the retreat were: Marybeth Kearns-Barrett, director of the chaplains’ office; Meg Fox-Kelly, associate chaplain and director of retreats; Michael Rogers, S.J., assistant chaplain; and William Campbell, S.J., vice president for mission.

The Spiritual Exercises are also offered in October, January, and May, and attract more than 100 students annually.


Sarah Bower ’16 leading the station of the cross at the Spiritual Exercises at the Campion Renewal Center in Weston, Mass.

“The exercises were a great experience,” says Paul Endres ’18, a chemistry major with a biochemistry concentration. “It was a time to listen to my heart and learn a great deal about myself. I learned things I will take with me into the future.”

Learn more about the Spiritual Exercises.


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