It is insane to think that a year ago I was living in Pentagon City and soaking up everything I could in Washington, D.C., and it’s quite the bittersweet experience every time the pictures from then come up in my memories. Of all my time at the College, I can truly say that the D.C. Semester was the most memorable, influential, and amazing experience and I am endlessly grateful to have had the opportunity to be a part of it. Now in my last semester on the Hill as I think about my future plans, I can’t help but reflect on all of the things that I learned during the D.C. program and how impactful it was for me both then and now.
I knew that I wanted to take part in the Washington D.C. program from the moment that I learned about it. I’ve wanted to be a lawyer since I was 10 and I figured that living and working in the rich professional cosmos of D.C. would be an amazing opportunity to gain insight into this career path. I was right, but I also learned so much more than that. After deciding to apply to go a semester earlier than I had originally planned, I was honestly a little nervous to find that law internships had closed when it came time to choose where to work but I was assured that I would still be able to find connections and learn about it even if it was not the focus of my internship. So after looking at all of my options, I chose to spend the semester as an intern at the TSA Headquarters in Springfield, VA and it was the best decision that I made. I worked with and learned from an amazing team in the Security Operations Office who also made it a point to ensure that I learned about law operations at the headquarters. They connected me to the Office of the Chief Counsel where I was able to learn from Francine Kerner not only about legal operations at TSA but also about applying to law school and pursuing a career in law. Outside of my internship, I was also able to gain insight from a visit to the United States District Court in D.C. as well as from an experienced lawyer who served as a guest speaker for my public policy seminar. It was through these that my love and passion for law was further solidified and I left D.C. knowing that I wanted to work as a law intern that summer.
Moving forward into the summer, it was hard to find a law internship in my area as most required enrollment in law school. But just as I was starting to get a bit discouraged, I connected with a well known criminal defense lawyer from a town over. He was excited to hear about my time in D.C. and just grateful for help in the office but I was ecstatic for the opportunity as criminal law is a big passion of mine. During my time I was able to review cases and attend court hearings at various levels all while being mentored by a successful lawyer I could look up to. After working with him for a while he asked me for help on a big case that he was working on as it was a long trial with a multitude of evidence to work through. Little did I know, I would get to spend a good part of my summer working on a January 6th Capitol insurrection case. A big D.C. case file? I was absolutely elated. While it was definitely a difficult and tedious process at times, I am so grateful that I got to work on it because it gave me a chance to gain deeper insight into the process of working through all of the different parts of a criminal case file and the steps taken throughout the trial process. It was especially then that I was able to implement the various lessons I had learned and skills I had acquired during the D.C. program and I truly feel that having had this experience made me a better intern.
So – moving forward I will continue to miss the bustling streets of D.C., the crisp air of Capitol Hill, even the metro; but I will never forget the memories I made and all of the things I learned during the most impactful and amazing semester of my life.
As a senior at the College, I have had many opportunities to learn from and engage with my academic course load throughout my time as a student. However, some of the most impactful lessons learned and people met during my time at Holy Cross have been because of the J.D. Power Center’s experiential learning. I am sure most students at Holy Cross have heard about the J.D. Power Center in some capacity, but the plethora of programs the Center provides for students is unbeknownst to many, and it was to me as an underclassman. As a senior, I can now reflect on how the Academic Internship Program and Community-Based Learning made my time as a student at Holy Cross more dynamic and purposeful.
As a first-year I was tasked with a Community-Based Learning component of my Montserrat class, during which I visited St. Mary’s Healthcare Center, in Worcester. The work I did during my weekly visits that coincided with my class was only a small fraction of the importance of the visits for me. The time I spent with the resident I was paired with quickly became a highlight of my week. I found myself looking forward to Sunday afternoons with Barb. I would never have thought that what I experienced during my time with Barb would follow me to senior year. The first day I met Barb she asked me what someone’s most important attribute is. I had no idea what she was hoping for in my answer, but she quickly corrected me saying, “your attitude is your best attribute.” As a woman approaching 100 years of age, there was certainly some wisdom I learned from Barb that I would not have gained in any traditional course on campus.
My next experience through the J.D. Power Center started in the Fall of 2021 in the Academic Internship Program Seminar “Policy and Politics in America: Road to Midterms 2022” with Professors Tim Bishop and Peter Flaherty. One year later, I am in the continuation of the course, “Policy and Politics in America: Midterm Elections 2022” and just as engaged as the first time. Professors Bishop and Flaherty teach the course with extreme care for their students and their classroom is filled with energy and enthusiasm about learning that is hard to match. As a senior, I could not be more grateful for the guidance both in and out of the classroom that the professors offer. As a former Congressman, Professor Bishop offers an expert perspective on the legislative process and inner workings of our Nation’s Capitol. Professor Flaherty, on the other hand, offers his campaigning and political consulting expertise for students to learn and develop curiosity from. Beyond their wealth of knowledge, Professors Bishop and Flaherty are some of the most down to earth Professors and people I have met through Holy Cross. As two Holy Cross alums themselves, their investment in the personal and professional development of the students in their class is unparalleled.
Both the AIP and CBL components of my first-year course have allowed me to develop personally outside of the classroom and have enhanced my time in the classroom. I hope that more Holy Cross students have experiential learning opportunities that impact them in a similarly meaningful way.
As a senior at the College, I’m faced with a lot of upcoming life decisions. I know that I want to continue my education and also find a job. But should I go to grad school right away? Do I instead apply for jobs? How will I fit in more schooling with a job schedule? It’s stressful! And it took until an interview for me to realize what exactly the best path for me could be.
An interviewer asked me if I would like to attend law school eventually as I was applying for a legally based position. I do, so she told me all about the flexible opportunities this employer had for their staff to attend part time law school while also working at the same time. At this moment, I understood that what they offered was essentially a larger Academic Internship Program (AIP), and I recognized the extremely high value of this type of experience.
During my junior year, I took an AIP course (Women and the Law) while interning with an immigration law firm. I had heard all about how learning is enhanced by real world experience, and I felt that in my learning. What this interview helped me realize was that Holy Cross provides an opportunity to trial how part time school and working at the same time could go. It will be less of an adjustment taking on a job and school when it comes time to begin another round of higher education.
AIP at Holy Cross not only elevates our academic experience, but it mirrors what employers may see as desirable learning conditions, at least in the case of law school. Being able to connect how you can become a better asset through a growing understanding of the subject matter is a desirable point to articulate when asked about your future plans if you intend to stick with a job for a while but also want to continue schooling. Further, being able to speak on the real world experience that you gained while also participating in a full class load remains to be impressive to the job market because you’ve demonstrated time management skills and professionalism.
AIP is a truly valuable program and a strong point of a Holy Cross education. It is one that employers recognize as an advantage to your potential as a part of their team, and it can really be a factor in how you choose to determine your future. If doing classes and interning was difficult to manage or you didn’t like it, then maybe part time school while working isn’t for you. And that’s ok! But, if you did find it achievable, the experience certainly builds confidence towards an uncertain future.
My name is Rudy Antoncic and I am a senior Political Science major from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. I am writing this guide with hopes that through sharing my experiences I will be able to assist fellow students who wish to enter federal service. To date I have interned at two federal agencies and assisted operations in over six different offices, including a recent stint this fall in the Director’s Front Office at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Working in these environments in conjunction with my education at Holy Cross have enhanced my College experience more than I could have possibly imagined over the past two years and has allowed me to participate in some tremendously gratifying work. Experiential learning is one of the single most effective ways to make yourself competitive and marketable to enter the extremely competitive atmosphere of the federal hiring process and this guide will show you how to use the programs available to you as a student at Holy Cross in order to do so.
Understanding Yourself and The Process
Before you start the journey of pursuing an internship on the federal level here are some things that you should understand. First, the process is extremely competitive, like any large firm or corporation it is not uncommon for thousands of people to apply for a single internship program, the federal government is no different. In order to stand out and put your best foot forward, have a well thought out reason for wanting to gain experience within an agency’s program and be prepared to articulate that reasoning effectively in writing and in an interview. Expressing knowledge of the agency’s mission and how your skillset may fit into and improve that mission while pursuing your own career ambitions is always a great strategy to market yourself for programs across the federal space. Simply ask yourself, Why do you want to work for this agency? What does their mission mean to me? And finally, How will I be value-added to this mission through my skill set? If you can answer these questions effectively and you feel that you will make positive contributions to the agency while achieving career progression you have already made yourself tremendously competitive. In short, be aware, be knowledgeable, and be an asset to the agency.
Second, the most valuable mental asset aside from your understanding of the agency, its mission, and how you will enhance that mission is flat out perseverance during the application process. The simple fact of the matter is that there are hundreds of highly competitive students vying for only a certain amount of spots each year in a given agency, inevitably this means that you may not get in on your first try, but it is imperative that you learn from the process and continue to apply yourself. Personally I have learned a tremendous amount throughout each hiring process I have been involved in and have used those experiences even if they didn’t pan out toward eventual successful applications. Do not be discouraged, keep trying and if nothing else this experience will prepare you extremely well for any other positions you may pursue even outside of the federal space.
Third, be aware of positions that require a security clearance process, the clearance process is only started after you are extended a conditional offer of employment by the agency. Positions that require a security clearance process are often posted months in advance of a potential start date so be aware of application due dates if the program in question requires one. There are many resources available online from official sources that will help you understand this process. Please note that different agencies often have different clearance requirements and processes so be sure to be knowledgeable about your agency’s standards and be sure to be prompt with any paperwork that the process requires. It may seem simple but quick submission of accurate paperwork will be a major asset to the entirety of the process.
Tools of the trade
Below are some of the essential items you will need to possess to have a successful hiring process. If you don’t have these components yet, work on finding them before you enter the internship application process at any agency you are applying for.
An Up to Date USAjobs Account: USAjobs is the U.S Government’s primary hiring website. Here you will find all of your internship job postings, however please note that not all agencies use USAjobs. Be sure to check agency websites for details of specific internship postings as well. Undergraduate students will usually qualify for unpaid internships and other programs within the GS-4 and below grade code range. Most applications for internship programs are fairly straightforward needing only a resume, cover letter, and transcripts. However, some of the programs (mainly unpaid internships) will require an interest statement to go along with the rest of your materials. Be sure to upload all of these materials to your USAjobs account and keep them up to date so you can quickly access them in your documents tab to apply to multiple positions of interest. Remember, perseverance is key, if at first you don’t succeed keep applying.
A Well Written Resume and Cover Letter: A thoughtfully constructed resume and cover letter combination are absolutely essential to a successful application. Federal hiring managers at various agencies review hundreds of resumes, well structured and well written content are the primary weapon to get you through the door to the interview stage at an agency. Constructing ironclad documentation to support your application takes hours of proofreading, which is a great opportunity to start using the resume and proofreading resources available at the Center for Career Development at Holy Cross. Remember, these documents are the agency’s first glimpse into who you are and what you could provide as an intern, first impressions are everything, if your paperwork stands out you will too.
An Up to Date List of Internship Deadlines: This “tool” may sound simple but it is a powerful strategy for applying to federal internship programs. As previously mentioned, federal internship applications sometimes open six months to a year in advance of a start date due to clearance processing and other requirements. If you are applying for multiple positions (which I highly recommend) be sure to chart out when due dates are and when positions open and have your most recent resume, cover letter, and transcripts ready to go to apply. I have seen time and again deadlines come and go for internship programs that qualified applicants have missed due to scheduling errors, be attentive with clock and calendar with regard to due dates and be prepared, do your research.
Awareness of Internship Options
There are many types of internships throughout the federal government but listed are some of the different categories of programs to choose from and look out for. First is the Virtual Student Federal Service or (VSFS). VSFS allows students to participate in project opportunities all throughout the federal government in a virtual environment with many top agencies including NASA, ODNI, and the U.S State Department to name a few options. VSFS is a great and affordable option for students to be involved with part time even while taking classes throughout their college career and is a great option to be paired with the Academic Internship Program offered through the J.D. Power Center for Liberal Arts in the World.
The second broad option is in person unpaid internships, most agencies have a general unpaid internship program in which undergraduate students can gain experience in their agency. These are wonderful opportunities to go to D.C. or other regions of the country and experience agency operations first hand and can easily be coupled with the Holy Cross D.C. semester program if the internship is in the D.C. area. The great part the federal government is that there are all sorts of opportunities to get involved whether you are a physics major wanting to study operations at NASA, a biology major interested in healthcare at the CDC or the NIH, or an aspiring teacher studying education policy at the U.S. Department of Education, the federal government will undoubtedly have a functional area to enrich your interests.
The third and final internship type are Pathways programs. Pathways programs are often paid internships that upon completion of your education program and the Pathways program requirements carry with them the opportunity to possibly convert into the federal government upon graduation. These programs are often the most highly sought after internship programs in the whole of the federal government for this reason are extremely competitive. If you have an opportunity to apply for one of these programs be sure to put your best foot forward as you will likely be competing with a wide variety of individuals vying for an opportunity to directly enter the federal government. Be sure to note that most pathways internship programs have application cut offs, for example if an application has a cut off of 100 applications the hiring officials will only consider applicants within the first 100 applicants, timing is often key for being considered.
All of these programs above can be used in conjunction with the Academic Internship Program and the Washington Semester program if you manage to secure a position in D.C., offered through the J.D. Power Center. These programs allow students to intern while still earning credit toward their degree. Not all schools offer this opportunity and as a Holy Cross student you should take advantage of the opportunity while you have it as the combination of real world experience and academic progression will put you in a distinct category of qualified applicants for possible conversion into full time positions when graduating college.
General Advice: Lessons Learned
After reading all of the information above you may have thought to yourself that I was sitting first in line my first year of college and with all of my paperwork ready to apply for my first federal job. This could not be any further from the truth. My journey to federal service started with me struggling tremendously my freshman year, having not a single idea of what I wanted to do with my professional career. No resume, no cover letter, no online application accounts, and not one clue of what I wanted to accomplish, needless to say I felt completely lost and struggled considerably my first several semesters on the Hill. However, my Montserrat professor one day noticed my situation and told me only two things, improve your writing skills and take a shot at the D.C. semester program or apply to the Academic Internship Program to see what I would want to do.
Three years later I completed both programs back to back my junior year amounting to over 9 full months of combined internship experience with a full class load. These programs completely changed the direction of my college career, allowed me to find direction in my work, and have the capacity to change your college experience as well. I fully understand how difficult finding what you’re passionate about can be and every time I mentor a student, I remember back to the way I felt when I myself was a struggling student who thought that I would never amount to much in my college career. My advice to students in the same situation is simple: Holy Cross is a small college where professors will know your name, will know your strengths and weaknesses, and more importantly be willing to help you. That’s one of the advantages of this institution, you have immediate access to people that will help you being it is such a small and personal environment. If you’re stuck, reach out to your advisors and use the career center, the J.D. Power Center, and other on campus resources to start exploring what is possible.
Experiential learning is a very powerful opportunity as it allows you to experience the real world in a controlled environment and allows you to find out how to perform successfully. The combination of meaningful experiences in both the classroom and practical real world work environment will allow you to out compete with the most elite students in the country and will without a doubt make you a better, more well rounded individual. Take the first step and be involved in your time here, you won’t be sorry that you did. If you follow this guide and equip yourself with the tools necessary to compete for these opportunities I have listed above as an underclassmen, you will be leagues ahead of where I was when I was in your shoes and most importantly will likely be able to have the opportunity to represent Holy Cross within the United State’s most influential institutions. Remember, be prepared, be professional, and most importantly never give up if you have a good reason to step up and get involved in federal service.
Every student knows the foundational principle of a Holy Cross education by heart; we are, and we become, men and women for and with others through the educational emphasis on learning for the greater benefit of the world. During my last four school years, each class that I have taken has given me a glimpse into how the information applies to the real world. Whether it’s discussing the politics of globalization or reading Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit, my professors have always shown me the material’s relevance to the world, and what it can do for others, in whatever form that entails.
My academic experience of the mission, and the way that it’s grown within my intellectual pursuits would not be complete, however, without my participation in the various programs that the J.D. Power Center provides. Through classes, we learn how to understand the world and how we can think and act for others, but through experience, we learn how to act with others. This combination of class and experiential learning, understanding how the skills learned in the classroom apply to the world and to real people, is truly where the Jesuit mission at Holy Cross becomes evident.
My first experience with integrating my classes with the world was during the spring semester of 2021. I participated in the Academic Internship program and enrolled in the course Women and the Law while interning with an immigration law firm in Worcester. The course looked into the intricacies of the female experience under the law, and I was able to see many of the topics we discussed in real life during my work experience. I understood on a more complex level, how and why some of these clients were in the positions that they were in, and I was able to assist their cases much better because of the background knowledge I had from class. And the experience of my internship helped me better understand my class material as well because I had something to apply it to.
I have the same sentiment with my CBL component of one of my current courses. I’m working with the Accessibility Advisory Commission for the City of Worcester, and not only am I helping the city with an important project, but also, I’m applying what I learn in class to work for the and with the chairpersons of the commission all to benefit the residents of the city. The collaboration in the pursuit of service is made easier when I have the experience and the knowledge to do it.
The experiential learning programs that I have participated in within the J.D. Power Center has significantly enriched my learning, but most importantly going forward towards life after Holy Cross, it has expanded my ability to live our mission, men and women for and with others, throughout my life.
I spent the Fall 2020 semester participating in the Washington, D.C. Semester Program. This program was an experience that I was interested in before I had even applied to Holy Cross, so I was excited to begin the journey after my acceptance. I ultimately landed on an internship with the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) in their Security Operations and International Operations offices. What I valued most about my internship experience was the balance of autonomy and trust my supervisors gave me while also always working tirelessly to engage with me and find projects that fit my interests. My classes and professors at Holy Cross prepared me well to tackle all of the projects that I worked on. One example of this is that my supervisors frequently asked for my feedback and review on documents before they were submitted, valuing the writing and revising skills I had developed at Holy Cross. Going into my internship I took this knowledge, but also an open mind knowing that there was so much to learn in the work environment from my colleagues and projects I was doing. Although I was working almost entirely on Zoom, I was exposed to lots of new experiences, learned so much about both the TSA’s mission and connected my academic studies to foster intellectual and personal growth. As the J.D. Power Center’s mission is centered around experiential learning, my holistic experience in D.C. embodied all of its most important traits.
Washington, D.C. has so much knowledge to offer that I knew I wanted to expose myself to and educate myself on as much as possible. Experiential learning is synonymous with hands-on and visual learning, taking education from something that happens solely in the classroom to something that we immerse ourselves in every day. Other students in the program and I visited as many of the Smithsonian’s as we could, such as the National Zoo, Museum of American History, Museum of African American History and Culture, and the National Air and Space Museum (Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center) in Virginia. We also took a tour of the Sully Historic Site (formerly Sully Plantation) and were fortunate enough to do a tour of the White House. Additionally, I took advantage of the motorized scooters around the National Mall and took in the various structures and statues along the way. All of these experiences were opportunities to learn and to engage with pieces of history first hand. This learning challenged us intellectually but there was also a social – emotional aspect that made it even more powerful. The Washington Semester Program provided me with new opportunities to connect information I had learned in the classroom to real-world situations to find even deeper meanings. This learning also helped build a better sense of appreciation and built upon the liberal arts foundation that Holy Cross offers.
For my thesis project I wanted to expand on my internship with the TSA and academic interests and explore a topic with real world ramifications. I was working closely with the International Affairs office and as an International Studies major I knew this was the perfect blend. Through my work at the TSA, I learned about their dedication to aviation security and that on an international scale its administration can get messy. I found in my initial research that aviation is a crucial part of our world, so I categorized it as a global public good or a good that is critical to the well-being of the citizens of the world. Throughout the writing process I developed my central thesis statement and ultimately focused on the international ramifications of private-public partnerships and increasing international bodies’ ability to regulate the supply of global public goods. I was fortunate enough to win the Vannicelli Award for the most outstanding thesis produced in my semester in the Washington Program. Last month, I presented my research and findings to the campus community and was honored to share a piece of the hard work I put into my thesis. I learned more about this topic than I ever could have imagined, but it was also an opportunity to strengthen my writing and research skills which will be valuable for any path in the future. My experience in the Washington Program inspired me to become a Center Ambassador for the J.D. Power Center during my senior year and to begin pursuing opportunities in International Affairs after graduation. Finally, the work that I did at the TSA, lessons from the classroom and experiences traveling around the city have fostered the tools I need to be successful both academically and professionally.
Editor’s Note: Applications for the Fall 2021 New York and Washington Semester Program are still available. Submit your application today at https://apps.holycross.edu/stuProgApp. Applications are due May 24th, 2021.
Written by Nicolette Frasco, Class of 2021
My experience during the New York Semester, although short lived due to the COVID-19 pandemic, enhanced my college experience in ways I did not know possible. Independence is the main staple of the program. Although that may sound daunting at first, this freedom forced us to mature in a plethora of ways.
I worked four days a week while simultaneously attending a weekly seminar and writing my thesis paper. On top of this, my classmates and I maintained an active social life with each other and the new connections we made through our jobs and the NY social scene. We lived in an ideal location, just one train stop into Brooklyn from downtown Manhattan. In fact, my commute every morning was only 20 minutes from my door to my job in the financial district. I worked at the center of the world’s financial markets while interning at the New York Stock Exchange through their largest market-maker Global Trading Systems. The opportunity to work at such an important institution made every day both fulfilling and exhilarating.
Many of my classmates and myself became close with our colleagues and attended functions related to our jobs, such as sponsored events and viewing parties. On top of this, we also networked with Holy Cross alumni on a weekly basis through events coordinated by our professor, which gave us exposure to different types of professions.
COVID-19 sent us home only 1 ½ months into our semester and, needless to say, my classmates and I were heartbroken. We all came into ourselves during our time there and learned a new sense of responsibility through our daily experiences. When you live in one place long enough you begin to accumulate your “places.” Like the diner on the corner where we loved to recap our weekends, or the restaurant with an impeccable view of the Brooklyn Bridge. Almost everybody in New York is a transplant and because of that it felt so easy to find our place there. To be one of many enjoying what the city has to offer and making your own way fills you with an electric energy that only New York can give you.
Editor’s Note: Applications for the Fall 2021 New York and Washington Semester Program are still available. Submit your application today at https://apps.holycross.edu/stuProgApp. Applications are due May 24th, 2021.
Written by Brandon, Class of 2021
Without exaggeration, I owe my everything to the New York Semester Program. In a narrative all too familiar, my life plans were shot down by a certain pandemic you may have heard of and I was suddenly unsure what I would do after my quickly-approaching graduation, or with my life in general. The NYSP gave me renewed purpose and I am beyond happy to say that as a result of the program I am fully employed and living in NYC.
This isn’t a new concept, but internships prepare you for real-world situations like no classroom can. It doesn’t hurt that the NYSP puts you square in the middle of the fastest and most lively city in America, so you can expect those real-world situations to come in shining, memorable heaps. The NYSP puts you in the beating heart of the commerce, publishing and artistic industries in a way no coursework or lecture can.
In the New York Semester Program, I worked as a writing intern at a small news website based in Midtown Manhattan. As an intern I published more than 700 articles on two websites and earned irreplaceable references and experience. Since then I was hired full time as a writer here in New York City; that happened solely because of my internship. I also fell so deeply, fully and stupefyingly in love with Brooklyn Heights, a place I am lucky enough to now call my home.
The New York Semester Program is an unparalleled opportunity to dip your toes into life, independence, and America’s most beautiful city. You will be intoxicated by a feeling of freedom and what time you don’t spend in a classroom will be spent hardening and developing your love of life. If you are anything like me, I guarantee you will do everything in your power to never leave this city again. I am very lucky to now call New York City, and specifically Brooklyn Heights, my home and I deeply and peerlessly thank the New York Semester Program for giving me a life and career to be proud of.
Editor’s Note: This post was written by Anne-Catherine Schaaf ’22 and Smarika Suwal ’22, who worked with Prof. Aaron Seider (Classics) as Research Associates.
In a world of quarantines and closures, who is venturing to the basement of Dinand Library to read bound copies of a journal? The answer, of course, is no one! Accessibility and inclusion were already guiding principles for our work on the New England Classical Journal (NECJ) before the COVID-19 pandemic, and they proved to be even more important in this new context. A regional Classics journal published by the Classical Association of New England (CANE), NECJ previously existed in only bound copies or behind a paywall. During our work as Research Associates, we were already in the process of transitioning the journal to Open Access on CrossWorks, and once the pandemic began the number of downloads and locations of our readers skyrocketed. As we think about the future, we know that accessibility and inclusion must remain our core principles, and we hope to build on the slow and meticulous work that helped us make the journal an Open Access publication this year.
Our daily work consisted of independent tasks like proofreading and uploading past articles, as well as more collaborative work such as making key decisions on the journal’s formatting and layout. As the semester progressed, we also began to focus on NECJ’s outreach. We discussed potentially creating social media accounts and obtaining DOIs (Digital Object Identifiers) to transition the journal to Open Access. Additionally, by creating new content like abstracts and keywords for older articles, we not only helped the journal reach new audiences but also improved our own writing and research skills, strengthening our ability to quickly absorb complex content and highlight the most important aspects people needed to find. Anne-Catherine created the journal’s first abstract and keywords list, establishing the outline for future abstracts and keyword lists. Smarika took on the major project of creating a spreadsheet to organize our archive of past NECJ issues.
All of these tasks tied into larger opportunities for learning, which we accomplished through regular readings and discussions about the historic exclusivity of Classics and the role classical journals, and NECJ in particular, have in dismantling existing structures of racism and other forms of bias within the field. Two particularly impactful pieces were this editorial from the American Journal of Philology and Dan-el Padilla Peralta’s talk on race, power, and inclusion in journals at the 2019 Annual Meeting of the Society for Classical Studies. We also discussed the racist events that occurred at that same annual meeting as well as Prof. Padilla Peralta’s and others’ responses to the meeting and those events. This knowledge has informed our own work outside of NECJ, as we were part of the team that created the Diversity and Inclusion Committee to support inclusion efforts in our own Classics department.
Our work concluded for the year with a presentation at the virtual CANE Annual Meeting on the work we had accomplished, what we had learned, and our plans for the future. A key goal of our presentation was to get feedback on our inclusivity efforts, and ideas for how to improve. The presentation was well received, and a robust discussion followed, with participants from all levels of classical pedagogy emphasizing the importance of representation in the field and offering many helpful suggestions to expand upon our aims for NECJ. The journal has transformed over the past year, but even more exciting changes await in its future, and as we look back, we are incredibly grateful for this learning opportunity, and eager to see how our work continues to make an impact.
On Friday, May 15, 2020, 20 senior Spanish majors were inducted into the Spanish Honor Society, Sigma Delta Pi. All 20 students participated in at least one CBL course, with 90% of them first encountering CBL in Spanish 301: “Spanish Composition and Conversation.” Senior CBL Intern, Katie Kelsh was among the inductees. Katie takes to the blog to reflect on how CBL has been so important to her Spanish major experience. Congratulations Katie and to all the senior Spanish majors on this achievement! The Donelan Office thanks the Spanish Department for all that they do to encourage Spanish students to take part in community-based learning. View a video montage celebrating all of the senior inductees, created by Professor Bridget Franco of the Spanish Department.
Lately, I have frequently found myself helping my brother with his Spanish homework. As I sit with him at the dining room table, repeating vocabulary words and attempting to explain to him the difference between the preterit and imperfect tenses, I keep thinking about my own journey with Spanish. During my first year at Holy Cross, after five years of Spanish classes, I signed up to work with the Worcester Public School Transition Program when they came to Holy Cross where I would spend time with them and also be able to practice my Spanish. However, during the first day that I spent with Worcester Transition Program, when they asked me what my favorite meal at Crossroads was, I became nervous and struggled to answer the question. Thinking about that moment, I have realized how important the CBL component of my Spanish major has been. It has given me the opportunity to gain confidence in actually using my Spanish to effectively communicate with others. The simple act of weekly conversation had helped me grow incredibly as a Spanish student. Spending time with my community partners, I was learning new vocabulary, the ways to distinguish between a Puerto Rican and an Argentine accent, and why they call the tasty Cuban dish ropa vieja. These moments were critical to my understanding of Hispanic language and cultures.
My time spent with my Worcester community partners prepared me for my semester spent abroad in Buenos Aires, Argentina. While not technically a CBL experience, living in Buenos Aires for a semester was definitely the embodiment of experiential learning. Having experience conversing with others in a second language helped prepare me for this new adventure. I was experiencing a new culture, speaking a second language, and living in a foreign city. It was truly the quintessential CBL experience. The lessons that I learned from my community partners such as being open to having conversations with strangers, making mistakes, and learning from others helped me through a challenging but rewarding semester. Taking my language learning out of the classroom and into real life meant daily lessons such as the importance difference between llevarand traer when ordering take out and how after many years of Spanish classes I finally started to understand how and when to use the subjunctive. Whether it was through CBL or in Buenos Aires, it has been these moments, outside of the classroom, when ordering coffee or chatting with the doorman as I waited for the elevator, that I finally understood why I enjoyed learning Spanish. It wasn’t knowing exactly when to use the preterit or imperfect tense, rather it was how learning a new language allowed me to communicate, have conversations, and simply connect with many new people. These real-life experiences, many offered by CBL, take language learning to the next level in allowing students to carry their classroom learning into real life, enabling students to learn culture and connect with people in their global and local community.
Recently, I attended the Spanish Honors Society Induction where I listened to my fellow students describe what their time as a Spanish major had brought to their life. Listening to each student speak made it was obvious that the Spanish major was so much more than just a set of classes we had taken. Student after student spoke about not only learning a new language, but the endless opportunity and experiences that came along with that language, such as finding out they could learn and live in a completely different country or getting to know their host mother. This was what we all loved as Spanish majors, the gift of language that gives us the ability to converse and connect with people across the world, people we might have never met otherwise. However, it did take a while to get to that point. The experiences we had and people we met through CBL helped us gain the confidence and knowledge to begin using our gift and I could not be more grateful for that.