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7 Holy Cross Students Making a Difference in Their Communities

The students work to create positive change across the globe — from Worcester all the way to Honduras and beyond
April 4th, 2019 by 

Holy Cross students stand around a table
Jhony Guiracocha '20 volunteers at Worcester Public School's Transitions program. Photo by Tom Rettig

Holy Cross students are driven to make a difference in their communities — on campus, in Massachusetts and across the globe. Propelled by the College’s mission statement, our students work together to create positive change, to be “men and women for and with others,” through programs like Student Programs for Urban Development, Spring Break Immersion Program and Community-Based Learning. These seven students in particular are doing their part in a variety of ways, from helping recently settled refugees to visiting with elderly Jesuit priests.

Chantal Umuhoza ’20

 Chantal Umuhoza '20 stands in front of a whiteboard

Chantal Umuhoza ’20 stands in front of a whiteboard at African Community Education. Photo courtesy of Chantal Umuhoza ’20

Chantal Umuhoza ’20, a physics major, has been working with African Community Education, a community-oriented educational program for African refugee and immigrant children living in Worcester, since her first year at Holy Cross.

“Being an international student myself, I understand the struggle behind learning a new language and having to use it every day. I also know the importance of having someone help you navigate that path of learning and integrating into a new country. I love the African dance sessions we have after tutoring where the kids teach us different dance moves — it’s so much fun to see their energy and time spent on activities that remind them of their African culture.”

Gabrielle Lutz ’19

 Three Holy Cross students stand outside during Working for Worcester's build day

Gabrielle Lutz ’19 (center) with other volunteers at Working for Worcester’s kick-off rally for build day 2018. Photo courtesy of Gabrielle Lutz ’19

Gabrielle Lutz ’19, a psychology major, is the co-executive director of Working for Worcester, a Holy Cross student-founded organization that mobilizes Worcester college students to improve recreation infrastructure and opportunities within neighborhoods across the city. Since its founding in 2012, Working for Worcester student volunteers have raised $1 million to invest in the community, mobilizing over 4,000 volunteers and renovating over 100 sites.

“My time at Holy Cross has been more meaningful because I am not only a dedicated student for four years, but also get to leave a long-term positive impact on the city that has become my home.”

Reuben Reyes ’22

 Holy Cross students sit around a table playing checkers with senior citizens

Holy Cross students play checkers with seniors at St. Mary Health Care Center. Photo by Tom Rettig

Reuben Reyes ’22, who is undeclared, works at St. Mary Health Care Center, a long- and short-term rehabilitative center, as part of his Montserrat course, Identity, Diversity and Community: Modifying Technologies. There, he is paired with a man named Daniel.

“During one of my visits in the fall semester, I ran into one of Daniel’s family members. He profusely thanked me for taking time out of my week to visit Daniel and told me how much I meant to Daniel and his family. Before this, I never really had a gauge for how much of an impact I was making.”

Mary Liebers ’21

 Mary Liebers '21 takes the blood pressure of woman in Honduras

Mary Liebers ’21 takes the blood pressure of a woman in Honduras. Photo courtesy of Mary Liebers ’21

Mary Liebers ’21, a psychology major, works with Action for Education, a Holy Cross student-founded nonprofit that opens schools and provides medical care to people in Honduras.

“I originally found out about Action for Education through one of my teammates who had previously been on the trips. Once I learned more about the organization, I got the sense that these trips provided a grass roots mission with true hands on experience and immersion. Being a part of the Honduras team this past summer, it was inspiring knowing that we helped over 2,600 patients over the two-week period.”

William McAvoy ’20

 Three Holy Cross students work with power tools in West Virginia

William McAvoy ’20 (right) helps with a building project in West Virginia. Photo courtesy of William McAvoy ’20

William McAvoy ’20, a biology major in the Naval ROTC program, has taken two Spring Break Immersion Trips to Appalachia — one to Ivanhoe, Virginia his sophomore year and one this year to Beards Fork, West Virginia.

“The most meaningful part of my trip was speaking with amazing individuals that I would have never met had it not been for this experience. On campus, every student flies around from classes to meetings. On Appa, I was able to slow down and speak with students and residents of the Appalachian region and learn their important stories.”

Dora Calva ’22

 A group of Holy Cross students take a selfie outside of Ascentria

Dora Calva ’22 (right) stands with other Ascentria volunteers. Photo courtesy of Dora Calva ’22

Dora Calva ’22, who is undeclared, works with Ascentria Care Alliance: Unaccompanied Refugee Minors, a program that provides unaccompanied refugee youth with financial support and services to assist in their resettlement and adjustment to their new culture, as part of her Montserrat course, Identity, Diversity and Community: Modifying Technologies.

“Having a Montserrat class with a Community-Based Learning component has definitely been beneficial because I have been able to work with the community of Worcester. Recently, I was helping one of the students apply for a position at Walmart. This high school student had just come to America, and speaking English was difficult for her. She wanted to work four- to eight-hour shifts on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. It really made me reflect — she has to work extra hard to take care of herself, all without having a guardian to watch her back.”

Amanda Fradsham ’21

 Three Holy Cross students stand with a retired Jesuit

Amanda Fradsham ’21 (left) stands with fellow Holy Cross students and a retired Jesuit priest at Campion Center. Photo courtesy of Amanda Fradsham ’21

Amanda Fradsham ’21, a psychology major, volunteers at Campion Center, a retirement home for Jesuits.

“My grandmother lived in an elderly care facility in Las Vegas while my family lived in Massachusetts, so we were unable to visit her. This pushed me to get involved with elderly people to insure that they get regular visitors. Interacting with the Jesuits on a regular basis has shown me how important a positive attitude is. A simple smile and hello can completely change the trajectory of someone’s day. And I’ve been able to translate this to my experience on campus, where I see the same phenomenon of the contagious good attitude.”

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