One of the eeriest misconceptions about Worcester is that its dangerous, so people don’t usually venture off campus on foot- unless its to a nearby party. During this semester (before it got too cold, though some days are still good) I did my fair share of walking around town.
Though its not the ideal city for walking, Worcester still has a few places that you can easily walk to off campus. For example, it takes me about 35 minutes to walk to union station, but it only takes me 15 minutes to walk to Walmart. While some of the sidewalks are bare, it provides good exercise and saves money (both for you and the energy for the environment). I have also walked to a local favorite: Miss Woo’s, only a 30 minute walk. Along the way you can also stop by Dollar General (for your frugal needs), Wing Stop (if you’re into meat), Wendy’s, Cuppertino’s, gas stations (for snacks) and more!
This past weekend I spent three days in Philadelphia at the Students for Zero Waste Conference hosted by the the Post Landfill Action Network (PLAN) at the University of Pennsylvania. On Friday morning, several members of Eco-Action filled two vans and we were soon on our way there. At the conference, we met with several other universities across the country to address one of the most devastating problems of today: the environment.
The keynote speaker gave a very critical view of the many underlying problems that are connected with the environment. Here are some of the biggest takeaways I got from her speech:
The biggest waste is the potential in people
Environmentalism is not Environmental justice
There is no environmental justice without the fight and liberation of all people. That being said, the fight for racial equity, gender equity, class equity, etc. are all at the base of the movement as well. We must center these issues to truly address the fact that the environment has disproportionately been used as a landfill, and disproportionately affects different people based on their identities. (for more info on this: article)
The meaning of Zero Waste: If an item cannot be reused, recycled, or composted, then it should not be produced
By 2050 there will be more plastic than fish in the ocean (at the rate we’re going!)
Just transition: Is a grounding framework for environmental justice with roots from indigenous communities. When we strive for a shift from an extraction economy to a living economy. What does that mean? Click here
City council meetings are important and crucial to making local change and spots to be an advocate for things you care about
The one space on campus you really want to make sure you make home is your DORM! Because you go back and sleep there every night, have a few snacks, invite friends over every so often and sometimes study… (at least for me, I don’t like studying on my desk).
Here’s a little info on living on the hill and ways I’ve made my dorm my home away from home.
The Roommate Process
The first part of picking a dorm is picking a roommate! As a freshman you are assigned to a dorm with a completely random stranger (or two). Sometimes people have bad relationships with their roommates… and sometimes they turn out to have such a great situation/friendship that they end up rooming together again! That was the case with me and my roommate from freshman year.
In the Spring you get a random time and at that time you choose where you and your desired roommate will live. Our ideal situation was to live in one of the traditional Sophomore dorms (Lehy). Since we had such a late time we ended up choosing Wheeler (which this year transitioned from being a freshman dorm to a sophomore dorm). The few weeks I’ve been living here have made me realize that this was actually the best situation I could have been in and couldn’t be happier living in a building where I don’t have to climb up stairs everyday!!
When you look around my side of the room you can see bits and pieces of pictures, memories, and trinkets that I use to personalize my room as my space. A big part of that is having my favorite books with me, pictures that remind of home (Kansas City) on my desk and pictures of loved ones and pets.
I even went out to get some plants to bring the nature vibes inside
Organizing your space
Since this space is a bit small, I got bed risers and 2 shelfs to put under my bed. I got both of these at the New2U sale hosted by Eco-Action B-)
It’s been a while since I’ve stretched my fingers on this page but I wanted to check in to share how I’ve spent my summer so far!
My first year of college taught me many things but most importantly, ways to better myself as a person and a student. Throughout the year I often sacrificed meals and sleep and had my priorities list out of order. Here are some healthy habits I’ve been working on:
A fixed bedtime and wake-up time
Eating BREAKFAST (as simple as it may seem, it has made my overall well being improve a lot)
Shifting my diet (I am now vegetarian and opt for healthier foods.)
Cutting coffee out of my diet (granted I do sometimes drink coffee, but no longer on a heavy daily basis)
Some activities I’ve enjoyed:
Going to PRIDE festival with my best friends (I got a kiss on the cheek from Monique Heart!)
Working at my favorite place on earth (hallmark!)
Taking a summer course at my local community college. Holy Cross offers this to students as an option to catch up or work ahead
Hanging out with my buds
Going to the lake
Spending quality time with my family
Some things I’m looking forward to this fall semester:
Moving in early
There are some programs at HC that you can move in early through. For example band camp, choir camp, odyssey, etc. This semester I’ll be moving in early for the New2U initiative with Eco Action. Last semester we collected student’s items that would otherwise be going into the trash others can re purpose them. The early arrival will allow us to sort through the items and get them ready to sell. We will also be giving first picks to Odyssey and Passport first year students.
Concerts! I’m going to see Kali Uchis and Rejjie Snow this fall
This year I’m on the E-board and we are currently working hard on getting organized to plan for the semester
During my first year of college I was fortunate to be involved with the Mentor Program. The Mentor Program matches ALANA first year students with one faculty advisor and peer mentor based on their academic and co curricular interests. With the goal to create a smoother transition to college by providing support and resources to students as needed, the program definitely lived up to its mission in my experience.
Last night I attended the end of the year banquet, and as sad as it was to see many of my upperclassmen peers for the last time, it was also a sweet moment as I had the time to reflect on my time at Holy Cross during my first year. Through the highs and lows of the first year, it made a memorable and impactful year on my life.
For the program, I was matched with two incredible women on this campus. The first being my faculty advisor, Dr. Wolfe-Bellin in the biology department given my interest in environmental science. Although I ended up declaring a major in English (how the world works… but yay for having a major!) she was still very supportive and helpful with advice throughout the year as I came in with different things to discuss regarding school and life.
My second mentor, and who I spent a lot of time with, Mariel Aleman, a senior [graduating as a first generation student soon with a degree in Sociology!] met with me once a week throughout the entire school year to touch base on my involvement on campus and my own well being. Aside from meeting and chatting about my life, through this mentor relationship I gained a new friend and connection on this campus. I think one of the most powerful things about our relationship is that we were paired together so well based on our interests and background. As a first generation woman of color on the hill, Mariel provided me with helpful insight as I navigated my first year with varying obstacles that she always had answers and advice for. When times were rough, I could depend on an encouraging text from her [pictured above]. Beyond our background though, with an everlasting passion for social justice and the wellness of others, we found much common ground as soon as we met. In the end, I not only had a mentor and friend, but someone to look up to.
I am so thankful to have been a part of program that not only guides students to excel to their greatest potential, but also empowers them through the process of it. For that I am grateful, because my first year at Holy Cross would have been so much different without this program. I hope that I one day can make an impact on someones life the way my mentors have– whether that is through the peer mentor program or through other opportunities on campus.
By now, thousands of applicants across the globe have received their acceptance package to College of the Holy Cross, and I want to extend a warm congratulations on my behalf to everyone that is a part of the class of 2022!
It really does not feel like one year has gone by since I received my acceptance to Holy Cross. I remember that day vividly, I was getting prepared for my performance at the Missouri State solo and ensemble competition when I received an email. I was so ecstatic that I did not even care what rating I ended up leaving with! In that moment I was filled with a rush of joy and pride, given that Holy Cross was my top choice decision for college. After receiving my second good news of the day (the results for my performance), I got home as quick as I could to share the news with my parents. Being a first generation student and Chicana played a big role in the reason that I took pride in my accomplishment. Despite the odds not being in my favor, I got into my top choice school and was ecstatic about what would happen next.
Solidifying my decision to attend Holy Cross felt as natural as it could get. I had already visited Holy Cross during the Perspectives program in the fall, so I had a good feel about what I was getting into. The push towards diversifying the experience of Holy Cross and the opportunity for a multi-disciplinary education at a jesuit institution are what greatly pulled me to Holy Cross. My parents, however, wanted me to be sure of my decision, so they encouraged me to participate in the Visions (very similar to the Perspectives program) program as well, given that the distance from home was something that scared them. With my experience in the Visions program, (or you could alternatively participate in the overnight visit) I also got to partake in the Accepted Students Open House (which I highly encourage).
If you are unsure of your decision to commit to Holy Cross and cannot make it to campus, some other good resources I found helpful before my visits are the virtual tour, welcome chat, and meeting other students through the official Facebook group. –I say this because sometimes it is not possible to get to campus. Last year I made a friend through the Facebook group (from California!) who couldn’t make it to the Visions gathering, so I told her all about the programing events, shared my stories there and encouraged her to commit. She took a leap of faith with all of the resources I mentioned and is currently loving her experience on campus as well.
Thinking back on the last 365 days, I can say I am thankful for all of the opportunities I have had since I have become a part of this school. There have been ups and downs on this hill, but most of all, I am glad that I have also been offered ways to make my experience better. With this, I say thanks to Odyssey for providing me with the resources I need to tackle college, My peer mentor (Mariel Aleman, 18) for offering me a shoulder to lean on, the Multi Cultural Organizations for making me feel at home, the environmental clubs that keep me rooted in my passions, and Holy Cross for offering me this 4 year thrill.
Wherever your endeavors take you, I wish you luck, and hopefully I will see you on the hill next semester 🙂
It’s been a while since I’ve posted, so welcome back to my blog!
Going back home for over a month was definitely refreshing, and also reminded me of how much more I missed home than I thought I did. I thought homesickness wasn’t really an issue for me during the first semester, but when I saw my parents for the first time I felt a sense of comfort that I longed for during my first months on the hill. I realized then that I hadn’t seen my parents in over 3 months and that was the longest I was ever away from home. I learned to busy myself with school and feelings that lead me to an unhealthy mental health state. Semester one wasn’t easy. It happened, I made mistakes, but most importantly I learned from them.
During difficult times, it is important to seek help from others. You can’t stay quiet, and one of the biggest lessons I learned (As simple as it seems) was communication. Many don’t like to talk about going to the counseling center, because there is a bad stigma associated with it. But these resources are important for students to know about and USE because they are free, and there for us to use to help us.
Aside from that, there are staff and faculty on campus willing to help you. Go to office hours. Talk to your professors. If someone tells you to feel free to drop by and say hi, do it. (i.e. a dean giving a speech during convocation) They mean it. So go out there and meet the people that surround you!
Prioritizing yourself sometimes may not seem feasible, but it is important to take a break for yourself. One of the ways I practice self care is by doing face masks, and these two are my favorite. Additionally, journaling my feelings also helps, as well us making some sort of art. Sometimes, various clubs will even have special de stressing nights where you can make art and get free massages, etc.
Eco- Action meeting tomorrow night in the Hub, advisor meeting in the morning, oh and the regular PRIDE meetings got moved to Thursdays…
Whether you like it or not, in college you have to be organized and have some form of planner to keep you on track. Now don’t get me wrong, I didn’t get through high school without a planner but I never realized even how much more useful it would be in college. The workload gets heavier, and sometimes life will throw many things at you all in the same day or within the same time frame.
The following are snaps of my journal and planner. I keep both, one that is more personal to me that includes goals, notes I take at events, and important events with doodles. My planner has my day to day life and specifies my academic assignments and includes reminders for club meetings or events I should go to.
I like to begin my months with a calendar and a set of goals. After attedning a goal setting workshop offered by the school (free of charge!) I added specific things I can do to obtain my goals.
Additionally, I have some motivation and things that keep me going so I can always look forward to something.
This is a glimpse of my week in September during the beginning of the school year. I like to mark off finished assignments by highlighting them and write my events to go to on the bottom lines.
Sometimes I don’t have my journal with me and will use my planner’s blank pages to take notes at important events.
Lastly, I began using sticky notes this year. If I actually put all of my activities for the day in my planner it would look very overwhelming, so I keep a daily to-do list on my laptop, where I do the vast majority of my work!
Moving to a PWI from an inner city school can be hard. It’s different. And it’s definitely true when they tell you there will be a culture shock. I’ve found it difficult to acclimate myself to a world with different demographics than I’m accustomed to, but I can definitely say I still feel at home.
A big part of this been the presence of Multicultural Student Organizations (MSO’s) on campus and their ease of availability to students, but that is not the only resource that has helped me. Below are a few ways I’ve been able to engage with different activities on campus in and out of the class room that have helped me cope with the culture shock and engage more with the diverse community on campus.
Latino History Project of Worcester
I have a strong interest in Latin American Studies, so I’m currently in a Spanish course . One of the components of it is a Community Based Learning (CBL) experience. The community aspect of my course is the participation in the Latino History Project of Worcester, which is a local organization that aims to collect the stories of Latinxs in Worcester through interviews. Last weekend I went to the THE JOURNEY, which showcased much of the present local Latin American culture and its rich history. I even got the chance to do my first interview in Spanish with a Worcester local that day!
The Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlan is reputable for their involvement on campus with current events. With the news of DACA, the MEChA hastily organized a Phone-a-ton event to show our support of DACA to our fellow representatives. Later there was also a fruta fundraiser that I was able to help in where the proceedings went to DACA recipients.
Apart from being a support group, I have enjoyed the several Latin American Student Organization efforts to explore the complex identity of the Latin American community. One of my favorite events this semester has been the Café con leche talk. During this discussion, we got to enjoy some warm coffee and donuts while Holy Cross staff moderated a discussion on the implications and history of identifying as Latinx or Hispanic.
I hope your first semester of school is going great! So far, the schoolwork on the hill has started to stack up [which is something I’ll talk more about later] and I am at a much deserved rest now during fall break. Since I didn’t go back home, that also means I have a lot of extra time on my hands.
One of the things I was excited about when coming to Holy Cross was being so close to a big city offering so many opportunities for concerts, especially smaller unknown bands. Coming from Kansas City, Missouri we do get a fair amount of different bands but it does not compare to bigger cities like Boston or New York City. In July, I bought tickets to see Japanese Breakfast, an uprising indie band. Last night, I had the experience of my life watching them perform live.
My biggest takeaway from my trip was the complex transportation system. Below are 3 tips if you ever plan on traveling to Boston on your own without the free school shuttles:
Download the mTicket app to buy your tickets in advance and avoid the lines. When you get on the commuter rail, you just show your mobile ticket.
Be prepared to take the T when you get there too. The Commuter rail from Boston only makes it so far and there are some distances too far to walk
Examine the maps well before deciding which line you are taking and where you are stopping. You will lose a lot of time going back!