“Take What You Need” – Hannah Benson ’20

Editor’s Note: The below post was originally featured on the Dolenan Office of Community-Based Learning Blog on March 29, 2020. You can find the original post at https://communitybasedlearning.me.holycross.edu/2020/03/29/take-what-you-need-hannah-benson-20/

Sheet of paper with "Take what you need" and various words like love, faith, strength on bottom in tearable pieces

By Hannah Benson ’20

A few years back a fellow CBL intern, Kara Cuzzone ‘19 and I started posting little sheets of paper outside the CBL office door. If you have ever passed by our door in Smith Hall I hope you have noticed how decorated it is with events, quotes, and artwork. The inspiration for this came from a journal account on Instagram that wrote plain and simple, “take what you need” with perforated tabs inviting a passerby to simply rip off a word from the bottom of the sheet. Kara and I wrote things like wisdom, peace, love, hope, passion, and confidence and it has been popular ever since. This was a peaceful project for us too, as every few weeks the sheets would become empty and we would draw another one.

When Kara graduated I really started to miss her artistic talent so I took to my computer and found that the Canva app could give me at least the appearance of artistic talent. I also found that I could print more pages, have more variety, and add more color to the idea. Just to spend a few minutes each week thinking of a holiday themed page or a new Spanish phrase was something I really enjoyed. It still baffles me today that people actually take them. I remember sitting in the office one night with the door slightly open and I kept hearing noises at the door. In the moment, I assumed it was another intern trying to play a trick on me, but as I was leaving, I realized all the words were gone and I had just witnessed people visiting the door.

I have expressed to some trusted mentors these past few weeks that what makes me most nervous about the abrupt end of my last year at Holy Cross is that I have to be apart from everyone. I know I am not alone when I say I feel like I can get through anything if I can sit with my closest friends and laugh, hug, and cry about it. So, our last few days on the hill were bearable but now comes the hard part.

This shift to remote classes means you can’t pick up a slip of paper from the door of the CBL office when you truly need it most. It means I won’t walk into the office next week to create a new page and hang it up. So, I find myself adjusting, as we all have recently, to see if we can make what was once so accessible in person, available in the digital world we now live in. These days we have a responsibility to one another to just simply check in. Even if it’s just a word or two, it can make a difference, just like a word from the door. I am confident that if we do this well it can feel like we are together again and we can get through anything.

If you are someone who frequently took a word or phrase from the CBL door for yourself or to share with a friend, please reach out! Though we may not physically be together, a hope and goal of the CBL interns is to continue to cultivate community. So, if you are in need of a word or saying to lift you up on a long day just send an email to CommunityBasedLearning@holycross.edu with the subject “Words from the CBL Door,” and I will make sure you get one!

Holy Cross Students Present at Joint Mathematics Meeting in Denver

Students, alumni, and two faculty members posing during dinner at conference
Back row L to R: Emily Devine ’21, Piotr Pogorzelski ’20, John Graf ’20, Xu (Mike) Ding ’21, Emily Winn ’17, and Prof. Gareth Roberts. Front row L to R: Patrycja Przewoznik ’21, Marialena Bevilacqua ’20, Xinyi (Elena) Wang ’21, Prof. David Damiano, Kiara Sanchez ’18, and Dr. Ellen Gasparovic ’06. Not pictured but who were at the dinner before or after the photo was taken are Ligia Flores ’18, Prof. Eric Ruggieri, Dr. Joseph Hibdon Jr. ’04 and Prof. Andrew Uzzell.

Several Holy Cross students and faculty members spent part of their winter break taking part in the annual Joint Mathematics Meeting (JMM) in Denver, CO. The group was part of the 2019 Weiss Summer Research Program, and their research ranged from predicting individual success in the National Basketball Association (NBA) to understanding differences in behavioral synchrony in adolescents with autism spectrum disorder. Not only did they get to show their findings during the conference, but some were even able to win awards for their presentations.

“Our students have a significant number of opportunities to present on campus,” said Eric Ruggieri, associate professor of Mathematics, “but it’s a whole different experience to present your work to faculty and students across the United States. I also think it’s an eye-opening experience for our students. It’s a huge community of people who are excited to hear what they have to say.”

The undergraduate poster session with over 300 posters
is the highlight of the conference for students. Students are judged based on their presentation, and can win awards depending on their success. Winning an award is not the sole benefit of the competition, however.

“A high point is the judging process itself,” said David Damiano, professor of Mathematics. “It is often the case that judges will suggest possibilities for further research. This is an especially good experience speaking to an audience of students and mathematicians from across the country. Our students invariably give polished and substantive presentations, and the experience is a confidence booster.”

For the students who attended, along with presenting on their own work, the conference was a chance to learn about other research taking place across the country.

“Each day, we would wake up and attend presentations on various topics such as Probability and Statistics, Real and Complex Analysis, and Mathematical Biology,” said Marialena Bevilacqua ’20. “I was given the opportunity to meet and talk with mathematicians and other students from many universities all over the country. This conference opened my eyes to the many opportunities that (studying Mathematics) would afford me in the future.”

“My experience in Denver was exciting and informative,” said Elena Wang ’20. “I was able to see a lot of mathematics that I wouldn’t have been able to learn at Holy Cross in a classroom setting. Being able to go to Denver gave me a taste of what mathematics is like outside of Holy Cross.”

Seven Holy Cross students presented at JMM. Their project titles, as well as any awards won, are listed below.

  1. Marialena Bevilacqua ’20 [Outstanding]
    Title: Predicting Success in the N.B.A.
  2. Emily Devine ’21
    Title: Understanding Behavioral Synchrony:  Differences in Behavioral Synchrony in Adolescents with Autism Spectrum Disorder using Functional EEG Networks
  3. Xu (Mike) Ding ‘21
    Title: Simulating the Board Game Risk
  4. John Graf ‘20
    Title: Consecutive Increases Related to the 3x+1 Function
  5. Piotr Pogorzelski ’20 [Honorable Mention]
    Title: Predicting NCAA Basketball Games Using Logistic Regression
  6. Patrycja Przewoznik ’21 [Outstanding]
    Title: Structural analysis of the force chains within communities of particle
  7. Elena Wang ’20 [Honorable Mention]
    Title: Clairaut Surfaces in Euclidean Three-Space

Máire White ’20 Discusses Recent Research Trip to India

Maire White stands in front of Indian temple smiling at camera
Máire White ’20 (PC: Luke Butcher)

Máire White ’20 is a senior Asian Studies and Chinese double major, as well as an Ignite Fund fellow. She will be presenting on her Senior Honors thesis on March 10th in Rehm Library at 4:30 P.M. Her thesis is on Tamil Shaivite revivalism and Hindu activism. She will also discuss how her recent trip to Chennai, India, funded by an Ignite Fund grant, has enhanced her research. Máire recently took time to answer some questions about her research and her trip. She also extended her thanks to her external reader, Professor Dheepa Sundaram from the University of Denver, whose guidance on things Tamil has been invaluable to her project. 

1.  What was the goal of your trip to India?

I wanted to go to Chennai, India to do some fieldwork and read some primary sources for my honors thesis.  Chennai is a really interesting place within Tamil Nadu because it’s an education hub as well as a major center for IT companies, so people are really well educated and very engaged with religion and politics. I chose to live in the suburb of Mylapore, where I did interviews with people at Kapaleeshwarar (கபாலீசுவரர் கோயில்), which is one of the most prominent temples in Chennai.  Kapaleeshwarar is an important temple for several reasons.  First, Shiva’s wife Parvati is said to have worshiped Shiva who was in the form of a peacock in this temple (hence the name of my suburb, as “mayil” in Tamil means peacock).  Second, devotional poems written in Tamil called the Tevaram from the middle ages mention this temple, so it has a sort of legendary character.

I was asking people about how they engaged with Lord Shiva, one of the most popular Hindu gods in the region, on social media websites like Facebook or Instagram and how their religious beliefs inform their understanding of Indian modernity.  Furthermore, I got to visit the Theosophical Society, which is a library that seeks to help people understand “religious wisdom,” mainly Hinduism.  Most of the sources are from the 18th-20th centuries, and I was looking at collections of sources that were written by Maraimalai Adigal, who was a Shaivite orator, professor, and sannyasin that wanted to reform Tamil Nadu or Dravidian society (Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala, and Tamil Nadu) and modernize without British or North Indian support.

2. What gave you the initial idea for this trip?

I found out that I could go on a trip like this when one of my professors, Dr. Lewis from Religious Studies, suggested that I go to India to further my honors thesis research.

3. Describe the day-to-day experience of traveling in India. What did you see, eat, etc.?

Every day, I would wake up at 4.30 am to go watch mangala aarti, which is when a Hindu priest wakes up the gods within the temple, and is one of the most crowded times for puja (worship) every day before school or work. Hindu temples typically serve small free, vegetarian meals to people, called prasadam (பிரசாதம்), and consists of a rice dish mixed with vegetables and a sweet. Then, the temple was usually open until 1:30 before they close until 4:30 so that the gods can rest, so I could stay and observe, chant in Sanskrit, do informal interviews, or participate in pujas in the temple.  I almost always ate dosai for lunch, which is like a large, savory crepe filled with masala potatoes and served with sambar and chutney.  After lunch, I could go to the Theosophical Society and read sources.  Another thing that I was lucky to have the chance to see was that it was Madras Music Season, where there are Karnatic music concerts accompanied by bharatanatyam devotional dancing in temples almost every night.  For dinner, I was usually given rice, some other kind of vegetarian curry, dhal, and chapati.  Then, I would make my notes legible or transcribe them on my computer before going to bed early.

4. What was the most significant aspect or experience from your trip, research-wise?

For me, I had the opportunity to get access to sources and visit places I never would have had the chance to without going to India.  I could not have had the opportunity to truly understand the zeitgeist within Mylapore, read some of the sources in the Theosophical Society, or do interviews without physically going to India. Further, I got to practice Tamil language every day, so hopefully it’s gotten a little bit better!

5. How did this trip fit into your academic and professional goals?

Currently, I’m writing my honors thesis on the development of a Shaivite modernity in Tamil Nadu, so this research fits in.  In the long run, I’m applying for master’s and PhD programs to continue my studies on the same topics.

Mediation Team Wins Several Awards at INADR Tournament in Toronto

Three students posing for picture holding 2nd place trophy
From L to R: Jake Mozeleski ’22, Alison Emery ’23, Victoria Tara ’21

The College of the Holy Cross Mediation Team recently competed at the International Academy of Dispute Resolution (INADR) Intercollegiate Mediation Tournament at York University in Toronto, Canada. The team had a strong showing, winning several team and individual awards. Jake Mozeleski ’22, Alison Emery ’23, and Victoria Tara ’21 won second place for the mediator team award. Below is a listing of the full results.

Team Awards

  • 2nd Place Mediator Team: Alison Emery ’23, Jake Mozeleski ’22, Victoria Tara ’21
  • 5th Place Advocate/Client Team Award: Justin Absten ’22, Antonio Ricco ’23, Emma Kennelly ’23
  • 6th Place Advocate/Client Team Award: Angelo Carbone ’22, Caitlin Marple ’21, Bridget Whelpley ’21

Individual Awards

Advocate/Client Pairing Awards (Top 20):

  • Caitlin Marple ’21 and Angelo Carbone ’22
  • Angelo Carbone ’22 and Bridget Whelpley ’21
  • Victoria Tara ’21 and Alison Emery ’23

Mediator Awards

  • 3rd Place Individual Mediator: Caitlin Marple ’21
  • 20th Place Individual Mediator: Victoria Tara ’21

A Semester in Political Debates

Student smiling for picture
Gregory Hausler ’20

By Gregory Hausler ’20

The seminar Presidential Debates: A Hands-on Approach, taught by Professor Bishop and Professor Flaherty, has been an incredible experience and I would recommend it to any student regardless of major. Both professors possess extensive knowledge of the intricacies of the American political system and the theater of debating. Despite differences in party affiliation, the professors engage in conversation and always respect opposing points of view. This respect has been echoed by the entire class, as we routinely engage in thoughtful debate and critical analysis of the current state of political affairs. This emphasis on engaging in respectful deliberation has allowed us to explore a bevy of topics surrounding not only the current state of affairs but past political events and campaigns. The professors have created an environment in which everyone in the class can feel comfortable expressing their honest opinion on matters without caution.

The professors have lined up an impressive list of guest speakers to provide us with even more expertise in the art of debating and political campaigning. The fact that these guests, ranging from campaign managers to chiefs of staff to governors, are willing to take time out of their busy days to speak with a group of students speaks to the dedication of both professors in seeking them out to try and help a group of students learn more about the field they potentially hope to enter. The lessons taught by the professors and guest speakers are not simply about debate preparation. They delve into career advice and policy analysis, and provide us with lessons that a textbook could never teach. Additionally, the skills honed in debate prep are ones that can be utilized in any context, echoing the mantra of a liberal arts college. This experience has already been one of my favorites in my entire time at Holy Cross and I’m only a month in!

“Tattoos on My Heart”: Reflecting on my Summer Research Experience in Uganda – Delaney Wells ’20

Editor’s Note: The below post was originally featured on the Dolenan Office of Community-Based Learning Blog on August 9, 2019. You can find the original post at https://communitybasedlearning.me.holycross.edu/2019/08/09/tattoos-on-my-heart-reflecting-on-my-summer-research-experience-in-uganda-delaney-wells-20/

Group of people from Amaanyi Center standing with Delany Wells
Delaney with her community at the Amaanyi Center.

CBL Intern, Delaney Wells ’20 spent her summer as a Research Fellow at EmbraceKulture. The organization works to develop the capacity of organizations serving children and youth with developmental and/or cognitive disabilities in Africa. Specifically, Delaney researched the Amaanyi Center, a project of EmbraceKulture and the first and only center in Uganda dedicated to empowering youth with special needs to achieve their potential. The following post is Delaney’s final reflection on her experience in Uganda and how it relates to other experiential learning experiences she has had at Holy Cross (Community-Based Learning, the Spring Break Immersion Program, and the Washington Semester Program).

Crazy, crazy to think that my almost 10-week experience in Africa is concluding. I contemplated for a bit which word to use in place of “experience” in my last sentence, but “visit” did not feel just right. I am very aware that I am a visitor here, and there is so much to learn about where I am. Yet, Lunyo Village has truly begun to feel like home to me. From early morning singing during Assembly, walks to church, the neighborhood goats and chickens that roam about, it is hard to believe that very soon this will not be my reality.

The last few weeks have been very special… beginning to realize my time was winding down, I was able to reallllly think about and practice living in the moment. There have been many situations that have served as reminders of the importance of presence. The very, very finicky wifi and electricity which initially was very frustrating quickly became opportunities where I could step back and take a deep breath; to learn to live in the moment. I have found that sharing time at L’Arche communities (which I did through the Spring Break Immersion Program and the Washington Program) has really reminded me of intentionality and presence, and the Amaanyi Center (where I have been spending my time this summer through the Summer Research Program) is no different. Within Disability Theology there is a writer who wrote of L’Arche and “time as experienced in L’Arche”. This revolves around the idea that time does not exist in relation to real life, things move at a truly human pace. This allows for core members and assistants alike to appreciate each moment, and feel no pressure to rush (I wrote about this a good deal in my thesis if you have more questions !!). This means that a walk that may take one person 20 minutes may take a core member an hour, and there is no shame or annoyance in that. Rather, there is just an appreciation for living life at the speed we dictate, instead of society and others dictating for us. I can attest that time as experienced in the Amaanyi Center is quite similar. We have a schedule for classes and meals throughout the day, but this is in no way binding. If our students using walkers are not in Literacy right at 9 a.m. on Mondays and Wednesdays, we do not rush them. This applies to all members of the Amaanyi Center if teacher Rosemary needs another moment before class to finish preparing for our lesson.

I think that is where the beauty of L’Arche and the Amaanyi Center lies, in the recognition of the inherent importance of a person. Once you prioritize the person instead of the event you are late for or the deadline you are rushing to complete, you can fully appreciate them as a human being instead of a nuisance or something slowing you down. Yes, this may sound incredibly similar to the practice of patience, but I believe it is much greater than that. I just wrapped up my first flight from Entebbe and I re-read parts of “Tattoos on the Heart” by Father Greg Boyle as I tried everything I possibly could to distract myself from the mix of sadness, appreciation, love, and loss I felt after leaving the most special students behind (I think the woman next to me on the plane thought I was truly a mess). Father Boyle speaks of a parable involving a woman named Carmen, who came in to talk to him at what he felt was the wrong time. He was rushing to a Baptism and didn’t want to be bothered with whatever trouble she had gotten into. After she opened her heart to him, explaining her story, he writes “suddenly, her shame meets mine. For when Carmen walked through that door, I had mistaken her for an interruption”. In such a fast-paced world, everything that is not matching or exceeding our speed slows us down and is annoying to us. What if we spend time slowing down, to walk with someone, like Maureen, who moves more slowly? Or spent time really ensuring we hear what someone who may be hard to verbally understand, like Ketty, is saying? What if we could take the rush out of our lives and just appreciate the company of one another being human in this journey together?

Through CBL and other opportunities at school and outside of campus, many of us have come to understand the power of presence; of sitting, or standing, with someone else and engage.  To truly value humanity you must spend time with the other, this is the importance of mutuality-in-community where a relationship can be introduced where people are transformed and taught how to be human. Transvaluation, a notion held central to Disability Theology and one that KEEPS coming up in my life is discovered in personal encounters with people with profound developmental/intellectual disabilities and initiates a movement towards a radically new system of evaluation. When people meet together and engage in mutually constructive relationships of friendship with people who have profound developmental disabilities, they are changed and transformed. Disability is no longer seen as an inconvenience or devaluing concept, simply just differences among people. Really, it is the practice of engagement with respect for all involved that can allow for genuine humanity to be practiced among one another. This is something that takes practice, but what a beautiful skill to hone. If this could be the reality of our world, a real inclusive society built on genuine respect for one another, a gospel of love that is lived out instead of just a faraway notion that is easily forgotten in the day to day busyness.

Father Boyle’s book title is the perfect description for the lessons I learned through my fourteen most amazing students, the staff, neighbors and all who I encountered during my time in Lunyo Village, they have truly left tattoos on my heart. I hope we can all try to take a moment to remember and recognize the humanity among us all as we move to transition into another busy (in a wonderful way!) year. Through this, we can begin towards the inclusion we ALL, people with and without disabilities, need in order to allow for humanity among us all to be celebrated as it ought to be. Love and care for one another, how can you say no to that?

Bubble Tea and Constructing Asian American Identity: A Conversation with Fenwick Scholar Mia Yee ’19

Student (Mia Yee) smiling at camera on Fenwick Porch
Mia Yee on Fenwick Porch. Photo by Avanell Brock

Editor’s Note: This article was published on the Holy Cross news website on May 22, 2019. It was written by Jane Carlton. Mia Yee ’19, in addition to being the 2018-2019 Fenwick Scholar, is also an Ignite Fund recipient.

Every year, Holy Cross names a Fenwick Scholar — a student who spends the entirety of their senior year conducting independent research. But it’s not every year that student embarks on a study of ramen and other modern Asian American food culture. Mia Yee, the 2018-2019 recipient of the College’s oldest and most prestigious academic honor, conducted ethnographic research on Asian American food spaces, combining her passions — and majors — of anthropology and architectural studies.

Yee, who also has a minor in studio art, spent a year observing and interviewing customers and restaurant workers at innovative eateries in the Boston area for her research. Now, we turn the tables and ask Yee about her project, the research process and how Holy Cross has made a lasting impression.

How would you describe your research in a nutshell?

I did ethnographic field research in contemporary Asian food places that serve trendy foods, like ramen, bubble tea, fusion, that type of thing. I focused on spaces that deviated away from what we normally see in American Chinese or sushi restaurants. I was drawn to places that have a lot of aesthetic props and are more modern or global.

There was a moment in Snappy Kitchen (one of the restaurants I feature in my research), where one of the co-owners said, “I don’t like cherry blossoms; I don’t like maneki-nekos,” which are the waving cats. They’re these very Americanized symbols of Japan.

I interviewed a number of Asian Americans, mostly millennials, to get their take on how these spaces are constructing their experiences as Asian Americans.

Why food spaces? Why did you want to spend a year doing research there?

I’m Japanese and Chinese American. My dad is third-generation Chinese American, and my family is very Americanized and worked at the Kowloon Restaurant in Saugus, Massachusetts. In college I became really interested in how space intersects with race, class and gender. I wanted to look at how spaces are racialized. I thought that was a really cool concept that, in architecture, hasn’t been explored as much.

What were some of the questions you explored?

I was interested in the way that class and privilege come out in these spaces, and how that is tied up with ethnic hierarchies, like who immigrated here first. Who’s had the most time here? Who’s been alienated the longest, and who’s dealing with the brunt of it right now? And then also how socio-economic status plays in.

My time at Holy Cross has taught me that Asian and Asian American representation matters. I came from a high school that had many Asian Americans and then came to a college where I was one of the only Asian people in the classroom. I began to think about how and why our identities matter and all our intersectionalities — race, class, gender, ethnicity — matter.

Take for instance “Crazy Rich Asians.” Beyond being a rom-com, it’s noteworthy because it’s the first movie in 25 years to have an all Asian cast — and that matters. When Asian Americans go and eat in these trendy, cosmopolitan, modern food spaces, they gain social and cultural capital, which gives them a platform where they can say “Hey, look, Asian stuff is cool” and is a space where they don’t feel like an “other.”

What was it like to undertake a yearlong research project?

I was working on it every day, and I also spent the entirety of most breaks doing research. While it was hard to separate myself from my work, it was still highly academic and analytical. But sometimes the question was, does work really have to be separate from one’s identity? It gave me some perspective, as I was able to understand all the dynamics of being connected to my work and understanding my own place as a researcher.

As for the actual research, I think because my family has worked in restaurants my whole life, it helped immensely in terms of talking to proprietors. I was able to talk the talk, so to speak. I could talk about restaurant stuff and they were like, “Oh, you actually understand this.”

What did your path to becoming a Fenwick Scholar look like?

It took me a while to find my people here, but I’ve come to love parts of Holy Cross. I’ve met amazing friends, had amazing mentors and professors. That said, my Fenwick Scholar process was a little convoluted. It was not a straight shot. I started off thinking that I wanted to look at how general spaces are racialized. From there I focused specifically on food spaces. It’s really nice to see that projects about race and about class matter.

You’ve mentioned that Ann Marie Leshkowich, professor of anthropology, has made a big impact on your time at the College. How so?

Professor Leshkowich is one of the most brilliant people I’ve ever met. I went to her during my sophomore year fall semester and said, “I heard a few of Susan Rodgers’ students went to Indonesia. How can I do that?” She told me she was going to Vietnam the next summer, and suggested I do independent research with her. So I went to Vietnam with her. She has so much wisdom and so much humor. She’s known to be challenging as a professor, which I actually wrote about in my acknowledgements. But that has made me grow.

Yee’s Fenwick Scholar project was entitled “Asians Eat Food and Drink Bubble Tea: The Co-Construction of Contemporary Asian Food Spaces and Asian (American) Identity.” Her faculty advisors were Ann Marie Leshkowich and David Karmon, associate professor of visual arts.

Professor Stephanie Yuhl Works With Worcester’s LGBTQ+ Community to Share Their History

Editor’s Note: This article originally appeared on the Holy Cross news website on June 5, 2019. It is written by Evangelia Stefanakos. 

Stephanie Yuhl at the opening reception for "LGBTQ+ Worcester — For the Record," the exhibition she helped bring to life at the Worcester Historical Museum.
Stephanie Yuhl at the opening reception of “LGBTQ+ Worcester — For the Record,” the exhibition she helped bring to life at the Worcester Historical Museum. Photo by Louie Despres

On April 25, the Worcester Historical Museum was filled with emotion — sorrow, anger, joy — as hundreds explored the museum’s newest exhibition, “LGBTQ+ Worcester — For the Record,” a chronicling of images, histories, voices and experiences of Worcester’s LGBTQ+ community over the last 50 years.

The exhibition, timed to the 50th anniversary of New York’s Stonewall uprising and the advent of the modern gay liberation movement, showcases the scattered documentation of Worcester’s LGBTQ+ experience, which is quickly growing due in large part to the work of College of the Holy Cross’ Stephanie Yuhl, professor of history. Supported by a three-year Scholarship in Action grant, Yuhl is working as part of a team of scholars to develop a physical and digital historical archive, oral history project and artifact collection of LGBTQ+-related materials in Worcester County.

While Worcester’s LGBTQ+ community has claimed space in the city for decades, their history has long been overlooked, a common occurrence for marginalized, hidden or oppressed communities, explains Yuhl. Through partnerships with the museum and various community representatives, Yuhl’s Scholarship in Action grant project, titled “From Margin to Center,” aims to make this rich history both visible and accessible — and, in doing so, showcase its value.

For Yuhl, this is social justice history work.

“The idea was to build a collection because if you start collecting materials, you start validating that history and if you have a history, you’re not easily erased,” she shares. “I always say, and said at the opening of the exhibition, that archives are a form of power.”

In order to build this collection, Yuhl and her community partner William Wallace, executive director of the Worcester Historical Museum, established an extensive network of partners in Worcester. The team of collaborators includes professors Robert Tobin from Clark University and Joseph Cullon from Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI), both co-curators of the exhibition and larger archive project, along with a community advisory board made up of organizations including Worcester Pride, the Boys and Girls Club, and UMass Medical School. These many touchpoints helped guide the collection process and reach the variety of people who self-identify as members of Worcester’s LGBTQ+ community.

“This has required a lot of social energy, a live network, a lot of building up relationships and trust before people are willing to share their stories,” says Yuhl. “This is especially true because we’re talking about a population that has generally been disparaged. You don’t want to only be extractive.”

This grassroots effort — in partnership with the community, for the community — is vital to the success of the project.

“One of the central tenets of this type of public history work,” explains Yuhl, “is shared authority. It’s not just a scholarly expert that comes in and says, ‘This is the story,’ but rather serves to ask questions and be a platform for communities to tell their own histories.”

People in LGBTQ history exhibit looking at items on wall
The Worcester Historical Museum is packed with members of the community exploring the “LGBTQ+ Worcester — For the Record” exhibition. Photo by Hui Li ’21

Through this project, Yuhl has been able to marry her scholarly interests in public history and in gender and sexuality in the U.S. context with the needs of the local community, making it a perfect fit for the Scholarship in Action initiative. The initiative’s funding, sponsored by $800,000 awarded to the College from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, aims to support sustainable, community-based faculty research projects in Worcester over the next five years through a series of grants.

Yuhl received one of the two inaugural Scholarship in Action grants, alongside Susan Rogers, professor emerita of anthropology, who is studying refugee resettlement in Worcester. A new crop of grants will be awarded in the coming months to support more community-based faculty research projects, which also create a range of experiential, applied learning opportunities for students.

In just the first year of the three-year project, many Holy Cross students have contributed to Yuhl’s research in varying ways, whether conducting legal or newspaper research or helping to gather initial data for a wall-sized map of LGBTQ+ spaces in Worcester that is featured in the exhibition. Most notably, Nora Grimes ’19 and Emma Powell ’20 curated “I’m Not the Only One: LGBTQ+ Histories at Holy Cross,” an exhibition up during the spring semester at Holy Cross. This exhibition was the result of a full summer of research conducted by Grimes and Powell through the Weiss Summer Research Program and is a part of a larger Holy Cross initiative called Project Q+, which aims to create a Holy Cross-specific LGBTQ+ archive.

“As a young historian and ally, I felt that it was and is my duty to participate in this work, to listen, to gather and to uplift the voices that have been a huge part of our history as a college since its founding,” says Grimes, who shared that the most rewarding part of the work was the opportunity to publicly display and share this history that has been historically marginalized with the campus community and alumni.

Grimes and Powell’s work also contributed to the larger archive Yuhl is creating as well as the Worcester Historical Museum’s exhibition, which featured a handful of Holy Cross-specific LGBTQ+ artifacts.

The show at Holy Cross served as a complement to the Worcester History Museum exhibition, with similar shows being put up on the campuses of Clark and WPI by professors Tobin and Cullon, respectively. The college exhibitions aim to reinforce that this local LGBTQ+ history has many different homes and that the history at one institution may look very different from that of another. Ultimately, explains Yuhl, there is a connection between each institution’s LGBTQ+ history and the city’s.

“Our exhibit at Holy Cross may seem small in the scheme of things,” says Powell, “but it is part of a larger project of the Worcester community acknowledging LGBTQ+ people and lobbying not for an apathetic acceptance but for an active celebration.”

While much has already been done, the work of collecting is far from over. Over the next two years, Yuhl and the Worcester LGBTQ+ project team will continue to gather artifacts and stories from the Worcester community in the hopes of capturing a broader, more accurate depiction of the history of its LGBTQ+ community.

The Worcester Historical Museum exhibition, which will be up through October 12th, could mistakenly be seen as a culmination of the collecting, but Yuhl explains it is rather a catalyst for it.

“The exhibit serves as an opportunity to report out to the community on the state of collecting,” she says. “It is the sort of middle point and we’re looking at it as a provocateur, an invitation both to catalyze and invite the community to understand what it is we’re trying to do and to contribute, to share their stories, to help shape it because, ultimately, it’s theirs.”

The LGBTQ+ community’s response to the exhibition, as well as that from those outside of the community, has been overwhelmingly positive — an indicator of the early success and impact of this project.

Mitchell ’19 Carves Path in Politics

Woman on balcony overlooking National Mall in Washington, D.C.
Carter Mitchell ’19

An interest in politics has always played a role in Carter Mitchell’s Holy Cross experience. Since volunteering on a local campaign during high school, Mitchell ’19 has carved out a path for herself in the political world, with stops such as the Speaker’s Balcony in the United States Capitol and the re-election campaign for Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker.

“My interest in politics first began during my senior year of high school when I volunteered on Governor Baker’s first gubernatorial campaign,” said Mitchell, a Political Science major. “It was a great hands-on approach to the election process. Through my political science courses at Holy Cross, I developed my passion for politics, and particularly enjoyed classes relating to American Government.”

Mitchell took part in both the Washington Semester Program and the Academic Internship Program (AIP). She interned with former U.S. Speaker Paul Ryan’s leadership office in Washington, and then interned with Gov. Baker’s re-election campaign through AIP.

“My semester in Washington, D.C. was a great opportunity to fully immerse myself in the city, and to focus on my internship and thesis,” said Mitchell. “The AIP course allowed me to further my interest in politics and campaigns while remaining on the Holy Cross campus.”

As for what comes after graduation this week, Mitchell will find herself in the world of politics full-time. She secured a position with Targeted Victory, a full-service political strategy and marketing firm based in Arlington, VA. Mitchell described how her Washington Semester and Academic Internship experiences played a role in securing her job offer.

“The internships developed my work ethic, time management skills, and the ability to handle new responsibilities,” said Mitchell. “During job interviews, I was able to articulate the ways that I approached my tasks, challenges, and other aspects of my internships. The skills and relationships that I developed through both semester programs were beneficial in the job search process.”

Mitchell encouraged future Holy Cross students to consider taking part in either program, as it played an important role in her post-graduate plans.

“My experiences in the program were valuable in shaping my Holy Cross experience and future career,” said Mitchell. “During the internships, I recommend taking advantage of every opportunity, learning and understanding all the aspects of your internship site, and fostering connections within your office and with Holy Cross alumni. The real-world and hands-on experiences of both programs is unmatched, and I encourage students to consider pursuing a semester program.”

Grey ’19 Impresses in Washington and in Summer Research

Man in suit standing in front of window
Alexander Grey ’19

When Alexander Grey ’19 first came to Holy Cross as a transfer student, his decision to major in Political Science was somewhat unexpected. Originally an International Relations and Diplomacy major at Seton Hall, Grey decided to change his course of study.

It worked out well for Grey, as he would go on to take part in both the Washington Semester and Weiss Summer Research programs. After graduation, he will be traveling across the Atlantic to the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) on scholarship for a M.Sc. in Political Theory.

“I pivoted to Political Science,” said Grey, “a choice which I am more than pleased with since it granted me a wide-reaching background in politics. The philosophical side of politics, in a field that is going increasingly quantitative, is exciting to delve into and fits with how my brain works more than statistical modeling and such.”

In the Washington Semester, Grey interned with the office of U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal. This internship gave him the experience of seeing “real-live policy making” in addition to his political philosophy background.

“Having experience in the real world is always helpful,” said Grey, “when applying to graduate school, and LSE greatly appreciated the background in American policy which my internship brought to the table.”

He also attributed his application’s success to the Weiss Summer Research Program. Grey, who is also an English major, researched in Summer 2018 how author Joseph Conrad’s letters influenced his novel, Heart of Darkness. The experience, even though not in the realm of Political Science, played an important role in his application to the LSE.

“The ability to say that I have crafted, researched, executed, and presented on a significant scholarly endeavor,” said Grey, “shows demonstrated capability which even a healthy term-paper cannot prove. Weiss demonstrated I am capable of putting in the work required for the M.Sc.”

Grey credited several mentors at Holy Cross for his achievements, including Profs. Madigan Haley and Sarah Stanbury of English, Profs. Alex Hindman and Eric Fleury of Political Science, and Dr. Anthony Cashman, Director of the Weiss Summer Research Program in the Humanities, Social Sciences, and the Fine Arts.

When asked to give advice to future Holy Cross students considering graduate study, Grey said that it’s important to take chances and to highlight your accomplishments.

“You never know what graduate committees will find interesting about you,” said Grey, “Yours could be a voice they want in the classroom as it brings a unique perspective to a room of otherwise like-minded people. If you find an interesting way to craft your story, no matter what that story may be, there is no telling what might happen.”