Year 3 by far….

Odyssey

My junior year on the hill began with training for the Odyssey program, which has by far been my greatest experience on the hill. While going through the program itself was also helpful and fun, being on the other side was a transformative experience for me as I became a person of support, mentor and friend to others just as upperclassmen before me had done.

Group Orange, otherwise known as the group of students that I had the privilege to mentor for a week during Odyssey.

During the program I was in charge of mentoring 8 incoming first year students. As the program progressed and even afterwards, I began to build relationships with other students outside of my group and can happily say that I know most, if not all, students that participated in the program. Pictured below you can see how I continue to develop these friendships and peer-mentor relationships that budded during Odyssey.

I *try my best* to keep up and catch up with my mentees every now and then. Pictured above is my first check in with Nyeka Watt ‘23.
Me and some of the Odyssey mentors during the program taking a break from the jam packed schedule
Two odyssey mentors and I participating in the “Pie your RA/OL/OM” fundraiser for an AIDS organization this past week.  Eli Nassar ‘20 and Andrew Rolles ‘22 continue to be two of the mentors I have gotten to know a lot more since the programs end and continue to build on our friendship. 

Being a mentor this year has really helped me flourish not only as a leader, but a friend and person in general. I was definitely not the outgoing person that I now am during my first year at Holy Cross and being in this position has definitely helped me continue to grow in that aspect. I have seen myself become more social this year as I reach out to more people and try to immerse myself in new experiences. It’s a lot easier said than done when you are innately an introverted person, but I’m proud of my growth these past years and I’m happy to be able to say this.

Living at The Edge

One of the biggest transitions in junior year has been living off campus at The Edge, a new housing option off campus right by the canal district in the center of Worcester. Living here has many perks like having many many more places within walking distance (and as I’ve said before…. I love walking). On weekends I try to go to the Worcester public library as its only a 5 minute walk from my front door and have even gotten the chance to check out different coffee shops close to home. I even finally paid a long overdue visit to BirchTree & Bread Co. and got to taste their yummy homemade raspberry jam.

Move-in day at The Edge!

While living in the beautifully furnished apartments has its perks, there are a few things that aren’t as fun. Firstly, is groceries and cooking! Living here has been my first time having to buy my own groceries and cook as much as possible given the limited dining plan I have. While I looked forward to having home cooked meals, I did not anticipate how hard it would be to cook around my busy schedules given that I’m also almost never home. Additionally the transportation can be a bit tricky because the school provides shuttle every hour. While it is convenient and easy to plan around, there have been times where I’ve missed my shuttle and had to take ubers to or from campus to make certain meetings or classes. At the same time though, I appreciate that the shuttle schedule ends around midnight and it provides me with an unofficial curfew / stop time from being on campus either studying or working on an extra-curricular task. Despite this, I look forward to living here again next year because having your own room and restroom (with a bathtub!) is indispensable.

Above is the first meal I hosted at my new apartment. This was before my other roommates moved in so I invited a few friends for a communal dinner. 

 

Culture is Not Fixed: My Group Presentation for the Academic conference

Pictured: My classmates and I after our presentation at the conference.

This week I got to present with my class at the annual Academic Conference. My Class, LALCS 299 (Indios in Latin America: Indios and Visual Culture in Latin America and the Hispanic Pacific) presented 6 different theses that reflected the different aspects of indigenous studies in Latin America we have been learning throughout the semester. Our class divided our presentations in groups of 3 people and my group presented the thesis:

Culture is not a fixed or static concept as it is inevitably challenged and changed over time. This process is influenced by migration, development and new understandings of culture and the changing environment. A major part of this process has been influence and assertion of other cultures” (Condensed: Culture is not Fixed).

As an example of a changing culture, we cited the Quechua Scissors Dance, or the Danzaq of Southern Peru. In one of the performance footage (by the New York Folklore Society ) we saw  performers wearing Chuck Taylors with their full traditional clothing, an interesting influence of American culture now that performance and competitions are held in the United States to preserve culture. The most interesting aspect of the dance though, is not necessarily the use of scissors to dance with, but the story behind it. Originally, rocks were used to mimic the sound of rain and with the introduction of steel by the Eurpeans in Perú, there was a shift to scissors. To accommodate migration, many of the instruments used for the dance adapted to a different forms so performers could play them while in motion.

Additionally, we cited moments or motivations in which we see shifts in culture:

  • Colonization
  • Time
  • Technology (archives)
  • Space (migration)
  • Resistance
  • Art

My biggest takeaway from this project was that culture as a fixed phenomenon has historically oppressed indigenous people, which is why we cannot have a monolithic understanding of it.

 

 

Mid Semester Updates

The spring semester at Holy Cross is always jam packed with awesome events and summer planning for students all around Holy Cross. Recently, I’ve taken part of all those as a general member with different RSO’s, e-board members, and student on campus. Below are a few things I’ve been a part of this semester and a few others that I’m looking forward to soon.

Noche Latina

Last week I was a part of LASO’s annual Noche Latina as a dancer for the Baile Folklorico Mexicano ensemble. Dancing Baile Folklorico alongside my peers was an incredibly fun learning experience, and this was my second time performing for Noche Latina! General members are reached out to by the end of the first semester and the first half of the second semester is filled with rehearsals and planning for the one night event in April each year.

Baile folklorico ensemble alongside Yesenia Gutierrez ’21, Helen Escobar ’22, and Deysi Bautista ’22

Breaking the Closet

We broke!  A literal! Closet!

This year I helped co-plan the (3rd) annual breaking the closet for Pride with my roommate Britt Axelson ’21. At the event people shared and wrote monologues about their experiences being a queer person in and out of Holy Cross.

 

#Hired #CrusaderIntern

Thanks to the Crusader Internship Fund I was able to apply to and choose an internship of my interest without worrying about whether the internship was paid or not. The CIF provides support for students with unpaid internships who are in their second or third year at Holy Cross. While it is competitive program, the Career Development office offers many opportunities to support students on their application.

This summer I will be interning at the Women’s Foundation back home in Kansas City, MO. I have a great interest in working in the non-profit sector and this will be my first hands on experience with it. As an intern I will be working with the grant research and fundraising team

New York!

I recently applied and was admitted to the New York Semester program for the Spring 2020 semester during my junior year. Through the program, I will be interning at an NGO, conducting my own research for a capstone and taking a seminar on leadership. All components of the program will be transferred as credit at Holy Cross! The research topic done through the program is completely up to the student. My hope is to do work with oral histories by conducting interviews with a specific population of people.

The New York Semester and Washington D.C. Semester programs orientation was held this past Saturday at the JCC. Pictured is the meal I had alongside my official orientation packet for the program.

My Weekend in Color

I got to spend this past weekend at (surprise…) the Joyce Contemplative Center again! This time I attended the first ever Bishop Healy Committe Young Alumni and Students of Color conference. During our time there we had time to bond, share our experiences as people of color at Holy Cross and reflect on our future as we transition from college into the “real” world.

Pictured above: Melisa Alves ’06 leading the closing reflections for the retreat

Up until this point I never realized how important and necessary it is for students to have this kind of space away from campus. We have affinity groups like BSU, LASO, etc. where we often have discussions but these spaces are not POC exclusive, and sometimes that can influence the way we filter ourselves or affect our comfort discussing our personal stories in  concern that they will be exploited when  expressing our challenges as POC at Holy Cross.

Pictured above: Gifts we received during our time there, BHC sweater with Sonia Sotomayor quote and a new Holy Cross folder. Image courtesy of Anny Thach ’20

The bonding experience that organically flourished from this space was so special, because we don’t get a Holy Cross space to ourselves like this after college starts. Before college, we have Odyssey and Passport, but even then the intention is not to soley provide space for us to talk about our experiences with marginalized backgrounds, and not everyone gets the chance to attend. While at the retreat I felt a sort of deja-vu to my experience at Odyssey. I felt like the alumni were helpful mentors by giving us  feedback and advice about what its like to transition from College to the world (as opposed to high school to college), all while simulatenously creating personal bonds with us. This happened both formally and informally, during ice breakers when we got to know eachother and formally at the alumni panel, designated as a resource for current students looking into the the endless possibilities of the future as POC grads from HC.

Pictured Above: Guest Speaker, Julia Golden (Associate Dean of Student Affairs at Massachusetts College of Pharmacy & Health Science University in Boston) giving a presentation and facilitating discussion on Horizontal Oppression. The discussion later focused on microagressions. Image courtesy of Adeline Gutierrez ’19.

My biggest takeaway from the retreat, which was a common sentiment among participants, is to enjoy every moment that I have building relationships and bonding with others. Too often as students we get caught up  with all the work that we have that we forget that we are living with REAL people, and sacrifice valuable time with others to stay up all night doing work. Looking back at college in a few years, I know that I definetly won‘t remember limits and derivatives from Calc I, but I will remember the friends I made, and the most special moments I spent with those that made an impact on me during my undergrad time, as well as the activities I participated in that shaped me into the person I am today.

Shoutout to everyone that made this retreat possible; especially the alumni. Melisa Alves ’06, Amina Gomez ’16, Suji Yi ’17.

Surviving ~finals~

I’m writing this blog post today in the comfort of my own home next to the Christmas tree with a cup of ponche next to me– without the perpetual stress of school. Albeit, this morning I woke up feeling like I had work to do, which I think many people feel soon after finals season ends. Regardless, I’m happy to have survived this semester of college and can’t wait for the next one. This semester has brought much laughter, stress, but most importantly, growth (a post to come on that later). Today I wanted to write about finals because of how glum and anxious that week can make a person feel. Finals are tough for everyone but hearing people have competitions about who go the least amount of sleep in Cool Beans is both overwhelming and extremely unhealthy (for the person and the campus culture).

I began finals season at the study retreat, hosted by the Chaplain’s office at the Joyce Contemplative Center. At the retreat you get your own room and a very flexible schedule– including meals, prayer, and optional yoga. Additionally, there are resources you can use there like the 24/7 snacks (hello why would you not love being there), the beautiful energy from all the natural scenery around, a big book selection to do some side reading from, and art supplies. At the end of the retreat I left with a lot of work done and as a more relaxed version of myself.

If there is one thing I miss the most about being there is the food! I had such a good and healthy variety of vegetarian food

When I got back to school I resorted to my usual study spot– buried two steps beneath the ground with my stuff scattered everywhere on a tall desk in the art wing of Dinand Library. There I spent a lot of time finishing up papers and honestly– pulled two all nighters before submitting my final pieces. These moments are not as bad when you are with good company though, I had friends that also had loads of work and we encouraged eachother to see the light at the end of the tunnel and to keep working hard.

Although finals sound pretty hefty, the school does a few things to alleviate the stress for students. The following are a few things I have taken advantage of or available resources the school and departments provide during finals week: 

 

I didn’t get a chance to see the therapy dogs that the school brings every finals season this semester, but last semester I got a picture with the beautiful Keeva, who regularly comes to Holy Cross during finals (check out her Instagram)
Pictured: Me with the lovely admissions counselors! This semester I helped host a student for Perspectives Weekend and gave a presentation at my High school as an ambassador for them. As a thank you (to those who work with the admissions office), at the end of the semester we go to the office, pick up a sack and fill it with snacks (Pictured left to right: Tom, Brenna and Laura)
Free espresso beans can be found in the libraries, courtesy of HC Libraries
Destressing stations in the libraries! Additionally, they host “Citation Frustration” at multiple locations and various times, where you can come with any citation questions and concerns you may have.
  • I don’t have a picture, but I’d like to mention midnight breakfast again! They have really good potatoes and egg muffins! All for only a meal swipe (You have unlimited meal swipes…)

 

You Can Walk Worcester!

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!

I captured this image because it has the same name as one of my dogs– Sargent
Pretty sunset and railroad on my way to a restaurant near Clark University
There are shuttles that can take you to Walmart… but you can also take a 15 minute walk and make it there:) There is a nice trail once you get close to the store, picture above
A nice view on my way to walmart with friends
My beautiful friend, Claire Fox ’21 pictured in a garden right outside of Birchtree Bread Co.; another HC fav
Remember the succulents in my dorm? This is Seed to Stem, a friend (Licelot Caraballo ’21) and I walked there at the beginning of the year to give our rooms some freshness

Students for Zero Waste!

Long time no see!

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
CO2 EMISSIONS BY ENERGY SOURCE
#Zerowaste
Pictured: Me and another HC student at the goodwill photo booth (thrifting is a way of being environmentally conscious!). Prop description: Divest Holy Cross! (From fossil fuels)

Making your dorm your home ✿

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!!

Pictured: Me and my roommate Britt Axelson ’21 in our cozy home in Wheeler Hall (:

Decorating

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

I went on a walk with a friend to a local plant store, Seed to Stem and got an aloe vera and baby cactus for our dorm.

Organizing your space

Missing: A tapestry :0 I’m going to DIY a tapestry with a friend out of some sheets we thrifted last weekend

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-)

First Summer Home

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
Missing: my brother

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
  • PRIDE!
    • This year I’m on the E-board and we are currently working hard on getting organized to plan for the semester
  • Year 2 :0

See you all soon!

A Year in Bloom

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.

Pictured: The reception for the banquet. Courtesy of @Holycross_academicservices instagram

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.

Pictured: Me and my peer mentor, Mariel Aleman ’18 at the 50th annual BSU fashion show.