I’m preparing to drive back to Georgia, but…
It’s official. I graduated from Holy Cross yesterday. More pictures will follow soon.
Every night, I take a walk around campus – rain, clear skies, or even snow, I take a walk. I use that time to unwind from the day, listen to my music, and reflect upon my experiences that day. Tonight, the walk was a bit more bittersweet, since it’s my last night walk. As I was walking around campus, I remembered my first tour this year.
A parent asked, “Would you do it all over again?” There was no hesitation.
“Yes,” I replied instantly.
And that answer is 100% accurate. Knowing what I know now, I wouldn’t change anything about my undergraduate career. When I applied to Holy Cross, I didn’t know what to expect. I thought I knew what I wanted from my college experience, but my four years here have proved me otherwise. I didn’t understand why being an exclusively undergraduate campus was so important. I didn’t understand the full meaning and value of the liberal arts education. And, most importantly, I didn’t know what to expect from the Jesuit values and identity of this college. If I could, I would come back to Holy Cross for another four years, even if it meant being the only girl from Georgia in my grade and not knowing a single person for the first day of school. The late nights, the difficult classes, the insane reading lists – I’d do it all over again. When I submitted my deposit back in April of 2007, I had no idea that I would be a double major in English and Medieval Studies; I had no idea that I would be as involved in the Classics department as I am, and I had no clue that I would be a ballroom dancer (shocking, right?!). I didn’t know that I would spend my junior year abroad at Oxford University and that I would find my true academic passion there. I didn’t know that I’d end up returning to Oxford for graduate work. I didn’t know that I’d meet professors who would forever change my life, or that I’d meet some of the most amazing 18-22 year olds. I didn’t know or plan any of this. Everything just unfolded. The person who I am today – the one that is leaving the hill in a mere couple of hours – is not the person who entered those gates four years ago. I have Holy Cross and the professors that I met along the way for this, since both the school and my professors offered me so many opportunities and encouraged me to take as many as possible.
I can’t believe that I’m graduating in less than twelve hours. Although I’m sad to leave Holy Cross, I know it’s time – I’ve had a wonderful experience here, but this is just the beginning, as cliche as that might sound.
Firstly, I promise that I will upload my photos from Senior Week events (like my trip to Newport!). It’s just that…well, remember how my faithful digital camera died on me? I’m now using disposable cameras (they’re retro…?), so it takes a while to get it developed, scanned, uploaded, etc. Those will be up soon, though!
At the end of April of my Freshman year, I started to think about my last blog entry. What should I write? How do I say good-bye to readers whom I’ll never meet? In the middle of this brainstorm session, Public Affairs sent me an e-mail and asked if I’d like to continue my blog for the rest of my four years. I jumped at the opportunity and said yes – I knew I wasn’t finished with my blog and describing the typical day of a Holy Cross student. And you all willingly read and followed my adventures through sophomore year, my experiences abroad at Oxford during my junior year, and my last moments on the hill as a senior. Blogging about my Holy Cross experience just grew to be a normal part of my day. Then, back in the end of April of this year, I started to think about my final blog entry – and I was sure that Public Affairs wouldn’t come to my rescue in a deux ex machina like they did last time. Now I was really perplexed. How do I say good-bye to so many people who have seen me grow so much in the past four years? How do I thank all of my readers for following my blog? I actually even started to write a final entry, but it just seemed too weird. Then, out of left field, Public Affairs solved my puzzled state. Public Affairs asked me to consider keeping my blog through my first year of graduate school next year as an alumna blogger. Now, technically, the definition of the word consider is to “Think carefully about (something), typically before making a decision.” I thought about it carefully all right – I responded about two minutes later saying, “YES.”
So, yes, I will still be blogging about my life next year. I won’t be talking about Culpepper’s, Mezcal, or Shrewsbury Street; I won’t mention Mount St. James, St. Joseph’s Chapel, or my beloved Dinand. Characters like Professor Kee, Professor Mulrooney, and Fr. McFarland will not be present, and people like Carrie, Margaret, and Bill might make cameo appearances. It’s a new chapter, but the same blog. I hope that you all will continue to read about my experiences at Oxford next year and how I learn to apply the past four years of my Jesuit education beyond the gates of Mt. Saint James.
Of course, I have to give a massive thank you to Public Affairs for this opportunity.
Anyway, this is the first official photo of the Class of 2011. It was taken right after the Mass of the Holy Spirit (aka cry fest).
For the past couple of entries (and arguably this entire blog), I’ve been focusing on me – my steps toward graduation, my feelings about graduation, and what I plan to do after graduation. I realize that this is just one student’s perspective and experience – there are nearly 750 other voices that could speak about their different experiences and plans for after graduation. Since 750 blogs might kill our server, I just want to briefly introduce you to some of my friends (you’ve actually read about many of them over the years) and what they’re doing next year.
First up is Carrie. As you know, Carrie and I were roommates freshman year and have been friends since then. She’s been involved with daytime admissions hosting, Peace Around the World, and Eco-Action. Carrie has achieved so much – she’s a member of College Honors, she went to Oxford, and…*drumroll please*…Carrie will be returning to England next year! She has an internship at the Coventry Cathedral working with their reconciliation and peace building initiatives.Yes, we will be about an hour away from each other next year. Dear England, I hope you’re ready.
Another name that you’ve heard quite frequently is Margaret. Margaret and I have been friends since we worked the Friday breakfast shift at Kimball freshman year. Margaret has been involved with every single student-administrator panel that exists at Holy Cross, and I’m not exaggerating. From Judicial Council to Political Science Student Committee, Margaret has been involved in it all. She also studied abroad at Oxford. Next year, she’s headed off to William & Mary for their law school, but she’s still waiting to hear back from London School of Economics.
Then there’s my other best friend, Bill. We were always really good friends, but we grew much closer this year. Bill has been involved with Liturgical Ministry, SPUD, Magis, and everything else to do with the Chaplain’s Office since day one. He’s also a double Religious Studies and Classics major, which means that our conversations have been right up my alley. He also convinced me to take Fr. Brooks’ Christology seminar, and you all know how much I loved that class. Right now, Bill is waiting to hear back from the Fulbright Scholarship (he applied for Turkey), but he also has a position with JVC.
Miriam is one of the most amazing and talented people that I’ve met at Holy Cross (and that’s saying something). Miriam has been involved in everything – from SPUD to PAW to various committees, she’s done it all. Her main focus is with PAW (Peace Around the World), and she’s brought so many guest speakers to campus to speak about Invisible Children, for instance. She spent part of her junior year in China, and she has an interview for an internship with the International Justice Mission in India later on this week. Oh, yes, she’s also our valedictorian. No big deal.
Although Colin and I have known each other since freshman year, we didn’t become good friends until Senior Year through the English Honors Program. Colin has also achieved so much – he’s a member of both English Honors and College Honors (we actually met through Ellen Perry’s Ideological Destruction of Art in sophomore year). He spent last year in Dijon, France, and he wrote his honors thesis on cartography in literature, specifically in Faulkner (when two students write about Southern Literature, you tend to get really close). Colin is going to teach English in France next year, and he plans to go to graduate school for a PhD. in English.
Grant and I have been friends since freshman year, and he’s my theater major friend. He has done everything with the theater department – he’s starred in all of the musicals and plays since day one at Holy Cross. He’s also flourished as a director, and he directs at least two one-act shows per semester. This past semester, he directed a musical called “A New Brain.” He also served as one of my team captains on the ballroom dance team this year, and he somehow found time to be a double political science and theater major. Next year, he’s headed off to work with Big Lots Entertainment Group in LA.
This is just a small sample of some of my friends and what they’re planning to do. I’ve already gone way over my word limit for this entry, which is why I’m cutting it off here. But, I’m so proud of my friends – the ones that I did mention and the ones that I didn’t. I’m so excited to see where everyone is going to take all of their many talents and their Holy Cross education.
By this time next week, I will be an alumna. That’s a frightening thought, isn’t it? The amount of good-byes that I’ve said in this past week have just made me realize how many wonderful friends I’ve been able to make here at HC throughout my four years. Take a look at what the ballroom team made for me:
And, as if Holy Cross really wanted to cement the fact that I am, in fact, leaving fairly soon, check out the message that popped up when I signed into STAR to check out my grades for this semester:
It’s all really starting to sink in, I guess. And, yes, while I wish that I had more time with my friends and professors here, I know it’s time to move on. Holy Cross has been a wonderful experience for the past four years, and I’m sad to see this chapter in my life coming to an end.
One of the items on the campus bucket list is the famed “Kimball Challenge,” which involves staying and studying in Kimball for the entire day – 7 a.m. until 8 p.m. Well, there’s a version of this challenge specifically for Kimball captains – the Kimball Marathon. The challenge? Show up at 6:45 a.m. and work until 9:00 p.m. – a daunting total of 14 hours. Well, yesterday, Alyssa, Andrew, and I joined the ranks of the very few captains who have achieved this mark of distinction (insanity?).
And the insanity begins to become evident…
Andrew working hard at the break station.
This was after second lunch (12:15-3:00).
Midway through the Midday shift (3-6). This was the killer shift. Ugh, we both wanted to leave during this shift.
And this was us at 8:30.
Yes, Alyssa, Andrew, and I lasted until 9:00 p.m. It was also the last time that I’ll work in Kimball – ever. It’s a rather weird feeling – I’ve been working at Kimball since classes began my freshman year. There were times that it wasn’t glamorous (it’s a dining hall), and there were times that I wish I didn’t have a job. Yet, I’m glad that I stuck with it. Most importantly, the people that I met through Kimball were fantastic. And, of course, the paycheck at the end of the week wasn’t too bad, either… Cheers, Kimball! It’s been great.
Let’s go back to a time when none of you knew me (well, except my family that reads this blog). I graduated from Blessed Trinity Catholic High School exactly four years ago today. Yes, I grew out my hair during my senior year of high school. However, it gets really hot in Georgia during the summer, so I chopped it all off before I started my first semester at Holy Cross.
I knew that I was headed off to the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, MA. I knew no one else going to Holy Cross. A majority of my classmates were heading off to UGA, Alabama (all of them were not hurt in the recent tornadoes, by the way), Auburn, Clemson, or Georgia Tech. I was choosing a small, liberal-arts college, which was quite an uncommon choice. This is the first photo of me wearing official Holy Cross gear.
At the time of my high school graduation, I didn’t know what to expect from Holy Cross. I just remember being generally excited.
Knowing what I know now, I’m not sure what I’d tell myself on my high school graduation day. When I was 17, I had no idea that I would be graduating with a double major in English and Medieval Studies. I had no idea that I would become obsessed with ballroom dance. I didn’t know that I would go to Oxford for my year abroad (I didn’t even know that I’d spend a year abroad!). I didn’t know that I would meet professors who would forever change my life. Maybe I’d tell myself to remember my passport for Summer Orientation to assist with paperwork for working at Kimball. Maybe I’d tell myself to not bring as many clothes as I did. Maybe I’d remind myself that one can never have enough tea mugs. But, most of all, I’d tell myself to remain as excited and open to all the possibilities that I was. I had no set plans when I entered Holy Cross other than my English major, and that helped me to discover all of the possibilities that I did over my four years. Maybe the one thing that I would tell myself on May 17, 2007, is that I made the right choice.
This photo was taken during the summer when I was dreaming of my first days at Holy Cross, and I proudly displayed all of the Holy Cross gear that Mom bought for me during Accepted Students’ Day. Yup, I think I kept up the excitement all right.
And, no, I don’t mind embarrassing myself horridly on this blog. I feel like we’ve known each other long enough.
Tonight was my last regular Mass with the entire student body on campus. Yes, there’s Mass next Sunday and then our Baccalaureate Mass next Thursday, but those are specifically for Seniors. The 10 p.m. Mass has always been my favorite – I do love the 11:30 a.m. Mass, but the sense of community at the 10 is just overwhelming. At first, I wasn’t scheduled to serve tonight (the first time I haven’t served at a Mass since…February?) because I wanted to sit with Bill, Margaret, Ashley, and Jimmy – just to really enjoy Mass. Then I received a phone call asking if I could serve. It seemed kind of fitting to serve at my last Mass, so I said yes. It was a really weird feeling – it felt like any other Mass, laughing at our mistakes, the things we forgot to set up, and rushing around and acting like we knew what we were doing. But there was also a sense of sadness. Aside from Ballroom Dance, the Chaplains’ Office has really been my main activity on campus, be it through SPUD, MAGIS, or Liturgical Ministry. Then, as the lector read out the following intention: “And we pray for the Class of 2011 as they go out into the world…” Of course, Paul Melley then had to close Mass with “Go Out in the World.” It was quite sad. See, my first real experience of Holy Cross was during Mass on Accepted Students’ Day. Mom couldn’t stay with me and I was spending the night at HC, so I went to Mass alone. But the sense of community at that Mass just made me feel at home instantaneously. I knew that I could go to school where such a community of friendly, faithful kids could make me, that lonely little 17 year old from Georgia, feel as if I was already a part of their community. It was also that same community – specifically the 10 p.m. Mass – that made me feel so welcome after my year abroad at Oxford. I felt like I had really come home after an extended vacation. So that’s why tonight was difficult. And no, technically it’s not a good-bye since I’ll have two more Masses on campus, but it definitely won’t be the same.
After this very reflective Mass, Bill, Margaret, Brian, Mike, and I went to Midnight Breakfast, where we indulged on pumpkin pancakes, bacon, and eggs that Fr. McFarland, Dean Austin (an Oxford grad woo hoo!), and Dr. Velacchio served us. Quite a contrast…
In 2 weeks, I will officially be a graduate of Holy Cross.
Does that sound weird to you? Good. It sounds weird to me too. I just turned in my last Chaucer and Dante paper (eeek) and the signed copies of my thesis (my advisor and reader have to sign three copies: one for College Honors, another for English Honors, and another for CISS). I have my Lit Theory exam tomorrow, and then my Lit Theory paper is due on Tuesday. And then I’m finished with college.
Wait. What? I’ll be finished with college? This is really just beginning to settle into my brain now. And that’s why I’m trying to soak up everything that I can – sitting in Dinand (yes, I’m a nerd), talking with friends, eating Kimball waffles (no, seriously – hear me out. Kimball waffles are the perfect ratio of crispy and fluffy. It’s magical), and just enjoying my time on the Hill. With only two weeks left, I feel like there’s so much that I have to see and do in Worcester and around Holy Cross. Well, I was able to accomplish two things on my bucket list.
1) Max out my library borrowing allowances. Yes, I currently have 50 books from Dinand in my room. Kind of exciting, kind of sad.
2) Climb the Kimball Hill and take photos with friends.
Yesterday was a beautiful day, so Carrie, Miriam, Rebecca, Janet, Tina, Meghan, and I had an impromptu climb and photoshoot. We all met freshman year, and we’ve been the best of friends ever since. Here are the results (all photos are courtesy of Miriam Westin):
I think the general frivolity went extremely well, don’t you? We’re planning for another session where we just do all sorts of random poses around campus. After we did our group shots, Miriam took a couple of individual shots for us. Miriam was kind enough to take a photo of me in one of my favorite spots on campus.
I love Commencement/Fenwick Porch. I remember coming here for my tour and standing on that exact porch and thinking, “Wow. This campus is gorgeous.” Besides, if a bunch of white columns and ivy doesn’t scream college, then I don’t know what does.
I have finally completed my honors thesis, and it looks beautiful in its binding. After approximately 300 cups of tea (that’s an accurate number) and countless hours of banging my head against the wall, I am finished with it.
Yes, those are all of the books that I consulted throughout the process. This does not include the articles or the Interlibrary Loan books. I did a lot of reading this year. And what’s really sad is that all of that research boiled down to 130 pages.
The entire thing ended up being around 130 pages, and I still didn’t say everything that I wanted to. I’m glad that I went through this process because it exposed me to the academic writing that I hope to do in the near future. Professor Kee was such a wonderful advisor throughout the entire process, and in our last meeting, he told me that I will never be satisfied with anything that I write – it’s just a fact of academic life. And, yes, I know that I could’ve articulated certain points more, or investigated a certain theme more. But, for an undergraduate honors thesis, I’m quite proud of what I was able to accomplish. It’s also kind of cool to hold it in my hands and say, “Wow. I wrote this.”
To quote one of my favorite lines from Beowulf, “Rest? What is rest?” I still have two final papers to write and a final exam to prepare for. May 17th…May 17th…May 17th…and all shalle be wele, according to Dame Julyean!